From Swan Queen to Abusive Bad Boys — OUAT’s Good, Bad, and Ugly

Swan Queen, apple with wings and a crown

This week marks the end of Once Upon A Time, a show which sparked a love-hate relationship for many viewers, especially among its legion of lesbian fans. Former OUAT fanfiction writer and Swan Queen lover Lee Winter gives her list of the good, the bad and the ugly memories.

The Good … which always starts with Swan Queen

There was so much to love about Once Upon A Time, and fans always come back to season one and an amazing meeting. The day the woman who gave her son up for adoption met the ice queen who adopted him. Enter one of the most exciting pilots ever to air on TV, and the birth of an amazing new fandom… Swan Queen.

Sheriff Emma Swan, with her tight jeans, red leather jacket, biceps to die for, and swagger up the ying-yang, was a jaw-dropping new character for TV. And her occasional failure to remember to wear pants when answering doors made us all wish we were Jehovah’s Witness. Methods to make her point included applying a perp’s forehead to a steering wheel and chainsawing mayoral apple trees.

Her nemesis was Regina Mills, an uptight reformed evil queen, who favored pencil skirts, button-popping shirts (which she often forgot to do up), sultry glares, and lip curls of disdain. Aside from her modern-day mayoral role, she was great at multi-tasking evil schemes when not staring in anger* at the lips and eyes of her sheriff, while standing an inch from her nose. *Not to be confused as burning sexual tension.

The first time Mayor Mills offered bounty hunter-turned-sheriff Emma Swan the best apple cider she’d ever tasted, punctuated by a jaunty sway of her hips, the air between these two ignited. The games they played, the fights they had—it was like a complicated mating ritual without the cheap drinks. Fans later wound up with the hangover, though. But while peak Swan Queen lasted, the show was simply delicious to watch.

We’ll forever savor smug desk-perching Regina waiting for Emma, which was totally not a come on; their clothes swapping antics, which was totally explainable although they never did; the holy-crap-they’re-about-to-kiss approach to mine rescues; and that lil thing of combining their magic to save the world.

And, finally, even if the show’s makers like to call Swan Queen “unintentional”, we’ll always have the fact Regina liked to ponder how to get the Savior to “taste my forbidden fruit”.

Whoa, what a concept!

Imaginative and intriguing, this show began with one genius idea: Put fairy tale characters in our world with their memories gone. The result had such charm, with the perfectly matched blow-in Emma and imposing, ice-cold Regina who had a penchant for yellow-Bug clamping.

In heady season one, Gold was still dark and mysterious, Hood’s two-note emotional range — primal glower and shitting dog — were not yet defiling our eyeballs, while Belle’s absence spared us from her diabolical bogan Aussie accent. And Hook and his manpain had yet to make everything about him, including Emma’s reason for existing and the whole actual show.

One perfect highlight was early Mary Margaret. Non-judgy, great friend, terrible dating history, and not too ashamed to admit it. Snow White imagined as a real woman? Flaws and all? It was fabulous.

This was when Once Upon A Time really worked. Centered on its core cast of Emma, Regina, Mary Margaret, and, to a lesser extent, Gold, the writers explored and picked apart their imperfections, strengths, and eccentricities. The result was so different and stoked so much excitement, buzz, and ratings, that it was as thrilling as the birth of a new Beyoncé meme.

Evil Isn’t Born, It’s Made

The worst villains are the ones as dull as your Great Aunt’s souvenir teaspoon collection. They have no reason for doing anything beyond “Cos I’m bad/jealous”. For the record, bland one-note heroes with treacly goodness clogging their veins are no better, which is why Snow pretty much got on everyone’s last tit in later seasons.
Anyway, Once Upon A Time earns points for its value-added villains, especially for diving into their backstories. Some tales were heartbreaking (Regina), some uncomfortable in their human weaknesses (Rumplestiltskin), but they were fleshed out to some extent, giving viewers empathy for the characters. We got to learn that they weren’t born evil, they were turned that way.

With fully formed villains, Once Upon A Time opened the door to something cool. Redemption arcs. Almost every black-hatter had a crack at going straight, and when one, Regina, succeeded in doing just that, it was as riveting as the eternally straining third button on her shirts.

The message was a good one, too: It’s never too late for someone, no matter how bad their choices, to turn their life around. No one’s too broken to be put back together. (Well, unless they’re into Dalmatian coats.)

The sometimes glorious acting

When Once Upon A Time’s cast was on fire, it was impossible to tear your eyes from it. Gold (Robert Carlyle) and Regina (Lana Parrilla) going toe to toe was phenomenal. Their showdowns were epic, and it’s hard not to quiver just a little at how good some scenes were.

“What’s your name!” an impatient Regina hissed through the cell bars at Gold in season one, wondering whether he knew his true identity. “Rrrrrumplestiltskin!” he declared with all the theatrical flourish of Severus Snape.

And when Regina and Emma weren’t smoking up the screen, or Regina angst-splattering all over the place in her latest redemption arc, there was subtlety and humor that was just magic. Like the time Regina conceded, with a dry tone and stupendous eye roll, that she didn’t want to kill Emma. Dramatic actors are one thing, but also finding ones with shades of gray, comic timing, lightness, and vulnerability, is what made the core cast really something.

The Mindblowing Costumes

The extravagant costumes were like an extra character and, thanks to Eduardo Castro’s inspiration, it felt like being in another world. The evil queen, especially, strutted and wreaked havoc with an increasingly intricate wardrobe.

There were spectacular corsets that looked like ornate sculptures, tight black leather pants paired with dramatic, swirling capes, Russian ice queen furs, and bodices squeezed and scaffolded to produce bursting cleavages that seemed to mock gravity and physics. But, like magic, inventive costuming comes with a price.
In a 2012 interview with PerthNow, Lana Parrilla said: “It’s very difficult to breathe in those things. I once ate a quarter of a cheeseburger and it got stuck in the middle of my chest. I had to remove the corset in order to swallow it. That was it — I went on a liquid diet. It’s very, very challenging, not only to eat but to go to the bathroom. I need two people to help me go!”

Otherworldly costumes weren’t the only interesting creations. The modern-day garb in season one – screw-you leather jackets squared off against strutting suits, popped collars, and lethal heels – was a real Why, hellllo, there for fans of Regina and Emma.

I freely admit, I’d shamelessly vote for an evil mayor just to watch her strut about in apex-predator power suits and THAT shirt. Mercy.

Yeah, but Don’t Forget the Bad

I know, I know, yes, the show had its problems, which from some angles you could ignore if you were so inclined. Here are a few.

Heteronormativity

Once Upon A Time’s gay panic after Swan Queen garnered thousands of fans sunk the greatest fandom ship that never was, as love interests of the fiercely heterosexual variety were hastily flung at the duelling leads. Because, hey, what could possibly be believable about two people who share a kid falling in love? And who’d care about an evil queen falling for the heroic savior who destroyed her curse? It’s not like that sounds awesome or logical or anything.

But that’s okay, they tossed us some side characters going from zero-to-lez-in-thirty seconds. Look, see, they’re snogging like they’re trying to win a radio contest. And that’s, like, exactly the same as Swan Queen, said no one ever.

However, a big thumbs up is earned for the Alice/Robin (jnr) relationship in the final season that was slow-burn, real, and sweet. It’s no Swan Queen deal, but it was organic at least, and younger queer fans could finally see themselves properly portrayed in this fairy tale show.

A little more conversation…or any

Wouldn’t it be nice if the core characters spent five minutes on their interpersonal issues instead of chasing the next boogedy thing down a portal nobody gives two shits about?

Like, hey Emma, sooo, you found your folks after feeling abandoned for thirty years? How’d that feel? Bet that was worth a convo. Better yet, a conversation with her parents. By that I mean in season two, not five bloody years later.

Or maybe Regina could tell Snow what life with Snow’s perfect father was like? Maybe Regina might also want to spend two seconds processing getting tortured. Or Hook could express a drop of remorse over leaving Regina to her torturer, or conspiring with Cora to destroy Regina.

Perhaps Regina might want to fess up to killing Graham? Or mind-wiping Henry? And, hey, how does Emma feel about her acerbic bestie and her broody boyfriend both being up to their eyeballs in dark doings? That would be great to resolv… Oooh, look! Giant!

Loose ends? Meh…

Sometimes I wonder whether Once Upon A Time’s motto was: let no once-major plot point be resolved. Emma’s wrist tattoo? The Home Office? Red’s true love is Dorothy! Wait, didn’t Mulan have a thing for Red…or was it Aurora? I’m fairly sure she said she loved a person and they were just the awesomest. Say, where did Mulan go? What happened to Merlin? Or the first Rapunzel? Uh, guys, did you forget she was black?

Cashing in and selling out

Less said the better about how overt this was. No, really it was laughably awful. There was the excruciating Frozen, Brave, and a few other not-even-trying-to-hide the show-hogging, Disney toy product-placements…I mean storylines.

An inbred family tree befitting any royal family

So pay attention. Here is just one slice of the show’s mindfuckery: Emma’s first love coincidentally turned out to be a fairy tale character. Her scruffy man-child boyfriend, Neal/Baelfire, was also Gold’s son, a young man raised by Captain Hook before Neal ran with Peter Pan (Gold’s father) and the Lost Boys. Hook then became Emma’s boyfriend. Although first, she had a big flirtation with Regina’s lover/former sex slave, Graham, as well as a fiancé who turned out to be a flying monkey for the Wicked Witch. That witch, Zelena, was also the sister of Regina, the mayor/ex-evil queen who adopted Emma’s son. And, just FYI, by Gold, we mean Rumplestiltskin, aka the Crocodile, aka The Beast. Do keep up. Frankly, we’re all Milah in this scene. (Go to the one-minute mark.)

Drowning in so much dumb stuff

By dumb stuff, no, I’m not talking about David although that IQ-deficient galoot couldn’t even grasp Henry has two sets of grandparents. (They gave this guy a gun?) Nor am I talking him and Snow ditching their newborn baby to go traipsing around the Underworld with Emma. You know, let’s make up to the first kid we ditched, by ditching the second? Like that’d never end badly. Nope, the A-grade dumb stuff was asking usually dignified actors to issue commands into CB heart radios, to control people via their cartoony glow-hearts.  Amazingly, it looks even worse than it sounds. How they didn’t all call their agents ASAP after that silliness is mystifying.

RIP season-one Emma Swan…

Remember where we came in?  Tough, sassy, perp-on-steering-wheel slammin’ Emma, who had charisma, sat with bloke-sprawl, and wore tank tops like a boss. Soft butch chic never came any finer. And then she got swapped with a pod double in a character travesty so risible I’ve never seen its equal before or since.
Emma morphed into the creators’ pin-up feminine ideal and seemed to lose all purpose as she slept-walked through the final seasons.  By the time Once Upon A Time had its former kick-ass, cheeky, rebellious Emma tricked up for a date with Hook, like a teen girl off to her prom in the fifties, red rose clutched in quivering fingers, it was hard for season one Emma fans to stomach her ultra-girlish aw-shucks-ing.

Her studio-ordered, perfectly-eyebrowed pirate accessory was then surgically joined to her hip like a limpet, lest we forget that she’s really into boys. Meanwhile her dire tragic, floofy wardrobe screamed “My mom has the matching outfit”.

I kept waiting for Regina to give her a vigorous shake and demand she snap out of her Stepford Girlfriend haze, given no one else seemed capable of noticing Emma’s silent cry for help.

Episode pitch: Regina calls in the cult busters, with Henry’s assistance, called: Operation Just What In The Hell Is Going On, Miss Swan?

This Show Had Real Issues: the Ugly-as-Hades Stuff

Okay, so the above stuff is not so terrible. Not in a real-world-impact way at least. But the show also had some outright ugly issues, too, that contained awful messages, especially for younger fans.

The half-life of people of color

Final season aside, which, to give the show its due, did improve things markedly, for years Once Upon A Time had a color-desaturation problem. From Lancelot and Rapunzel to Sidney and Marian, the darker your hue, the faster your expiry date. Even Lana Parrilla, of Latina extraction, was supposed to have her character killed off in season one. Only Regina’s huge popularity saved her. By contrast, the studio wasted no time in its haste to save Charming when he was intended for a pilot-episode bloody puddle.

In our diverse world, having a non-diverse cast these days really stands out like dog’s ears. There’s no excuse for a cast that would almost entirely disappear against a backdrop of a pile of freshly laundered hotel towels.

While it seems like they finally got the message in the last season, with a thoroughly diverse new cast list, it did feel a bit too little, too late by then, as half the fans had already left.

One dodgy adoption message

“I went to find my real mom!” said Henry in the first episode to his adoptive mother. Ouch, kid. Heat-seeking-missile accuracy of a bitch slap right there. Although they had some valid reasons, Once Upon A Time often forgot that by treating then-evil Regina’s relationship with her adoptive son as not kosher was a terrible message. Adoptive parents and their kids rightly hated it and complained. Apparently the showrunners needed persuading by Lana Parrilla that Regina did love her son and reminding that although Emma was blonde, pretty, and the hero, she really did have zero rights to Henry after signing them away years ago.

Sexist double standards

Not all villains were created equal on Once Upon A Time. If Regina Mills so much as twitched, Grumpy would call it proof she’s evil again. Gold, also with a murderous past but with a lot less guilt about it, had no such issues with the torch-waving populace.

Regina’s redemption arc went for five seasons, involved Mercedes Benzes of tears, caves of self-sacrifice, and surviving the magic DTs, while being hit with narrowed eyes at every turn. Hook, by contrast, had the Disney Express Queue redemption arc, faced up to and paid for little of his dastardly past, and still wound up bedded and wedded to the female hero. Anyone would think men can literally get away with murder or something.

Good ole-fashioned bait and switch

A show initially praised by critics and fans alike for its female focus, with three impressive, strong women leads, Emma, Regina, and Snow, slowly morphed into a show about men, or the women’s roles as love interests, to be precise. Name one show where the reverse has ever happened. I’ll wait.

Fans who loved early Once Upon A Time, with women causing havoc, cracking heads, and saving the day — before the characters discovered they vitally needed male limpets to do all the above with them — had every right to feel like they’d been fleeced worse than a carnie’s mark.

Abuse was romantic or an act of love

Once Upon A Time writers should probably look up what “protect” means in the dictionary. Hint: It does not include pregnant teenaged girls, framed and tossed into jail by boyfriends for their own good.

Or young, despairing queens trapped in loveless marriages to elderly husbands who spy on them and lock them in their rooms.

Or Dark Ones lying and lying and lying to their true loves and hiding disturbing secrets.

Or sleazy pirates with anger-management issues and an eyeliner surplus whose crappy behaviour is explained away by the girlfriend as her fault—because she doesn’t make it easy for him to stop lying to her.

But hey, boys will be boys. All this hard-core protecting of women is love, I tell ya. It’s something for impressionable young girls to aspire to and think is totally fine if their boo does it too.

And the big one … consent was optional

Did you ever watch a TV show and wonder if the writers realized what a toxic, troubling slimeball they’d just evacuated from their creative bowels? I thought Stargate: Universe, with its awful body-hopping consent nightmares, was the worst. Somehow, Once Upon A Time outfestered even that hemorrhoid pile, because a show about fairy tales seemed to think rape and dubious consent were such tasty plot points that they needed repeating, again and again.

It’s a pretty awful list. Characters endured implied marital rape (young Regina with the “lonely” old king Leopold) and sexual-slavery rape (a horrified Huntsman dragged to the Evil Queen’s bedchambers).

During the curse, many characters bedded people they’d never have touched if they’d had their memories whole and could give informed consent (Graham with Regina, David and Katherine with each other, and Mary Margaret with Whale, to name a few).

But teetering high on the steaming gross heap was that Hood and Hook both conceived children after believing they were having sex with women they cared for, only to discover she was really a villain in disguise. In Hood’s case, his wicked villain demanded and won custody of his daughter. Imagine the outcry if the genders had been flipped?

But not a single writer cleared their throat and said, “Uh, guys, maybe ditch the creepy non-consent furball?”

In sum, this family show sometimes felt as messed up as Law and Order: SVU* and that series is about sex crimes. * To lighten the mood, here’s a gratuitous pic of Detective Benson checking out Alex Cabot on L&O:SVU. You’re welcome.

But…The good outweighs the bad, right?

Right! Absolutely. This is absolutely correct, if you weren’t massively invested in Swan Queen. Or Emma staying true to character. Or you wanted Belle and Gold in a healthy relationship more than twenty percent of the time. And did we mention Swan Queen? No, really, they’ll give us rape and torture but not Swan Queen?

In the end, for all its sometimes terrible and oblivious faults, Once Upon A Time was a memorable show. The final season had some really lovely feel-good moments to even out a lot of the rough stuff that came before it, even though it lacked the charm and freshness of season one.

Overall, Once Upon A Time had a cast capable of stunning performances, sizzling chemistry, and created memories that would last forever for fans. Most importantly, it started a powerful fandom that’s still strong, and inspired thousands of fanfics, art, and videos.

Pretty impressive for a quirky idea about fairy tale characters coming to our world.

 

Lee Winter is an award-winning veteran newspaper journalist who has covered courts, crime, news, features and humor writing. Now a full-time author and part-time editor, Lee is also a two-time Lambda Literary Award finalist and a double Golden Crown Literary Award winner. She has just published The Brutal Truth with Ylva.

 

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About the Author : Lee Winter

14 Comments

  1. Carolyn McBride May 15, 2018 at 18:31 - Reply

    Absolutely agree 100%!! For the most part, Neverland was the beginning of the end. I was always, and will always be a SwanQueen fan. I’ll watch the very last ep, but only because I was there for the beginning and I’ll be there for the end. That first season tho? Hooboy!

    • Lee Winter May 16, 2018 at 01:37 - Reply

      Every time I try to pinpoint beginnings of the end I find a new one. But for me it was the episode Manhattan when Neal aapeared. Don’t start me…

  2. Lindi May 15, 2018 at 18:47 - Reply

    I completely agree with this! I watched OUAT until the middle of season 6 and then just gave up. I LOVED the show initially, but it became so repetitive, predictable and just embarrassingly bad at later times, that I just couldn’t watch it anymore! I did a happy dance when Hook died, but I should’ve known better to think him gone for good.

    It was a GREAT idea for a show and it had some fantastic episodes, I just mourn the fact that they missed so many great opportunities and dragged the show on when they should have ended it already. Aw well, time to dive into some fanfic where likeminded people expand on what might have been…

    • Lee Winter May 16, 2018 at 01:36 - Reply

      If only he’d stayed dead… sigh. Yes, they missed so many opportunities.

  3. Annette De Leon May 15, 2018 at 19:17 - Reply

    You are absolutely correct!! After the first season, I stopped watching. Couldn’t take the pain!

    • Lee Winter May 16, 2018 at 01:35 - Reply

      The first season was the best so you may have noped out of there at its peak.

  4. Danna J Holder May 15, 2018 at 20:42 - Reply

    Great review. (description of early Mayor Mills has some inaccuracies) SwanQueen is a natural flow to the story line, at least when it comes to hope, falling in love, breaking curses and finding a “happy ending” with your true love. Emma’s character scarified herself and became the Dark One for Regina’s happiness, yet she she willingly turned Killian into the Dark One against his will, that’s not love. Her character went from strong, brave and independent to disengaged, uncertain, selfish and what the hell is she wearing! A lot of stories written as fanfic have depth to the characters the series which it could attain.

    • Lee Winter May 16, 2018 at 01:34 - Reply

      Awesome, thanks! Gosh, what Regina inaccuracies though? Totally agree about Emma. 🙂

  5. Cristina May 16, 2018 at 12:14 - Reply

    Oooooh… gonna get real Dead Sea salty™ over here, folks.

    Season One was peek goodness. Not only due to the “unintentional” Swan Queen moments—which was a wonderful bonus and, come one, how could the writers not see it? lol—but mostly because the narrative thru-line was a tightly written take on the “gods/fairy tale/supernatural creatures among us” trope that centered around three strong female leads who were dynamically written and energetically portrayed (who, unfortunately, also fought other women/each other over men. Le sigh). Season one’s major question: “Will the savior break the curse?” (and subsequently “How will the savior break the curse?”) was an excellent mystery hook to attract and retain viewers. It’s a strong hook even for viewers who were simply sticking around just to ship characters. Other solid mystery fodder (that the writers would squeeze for every ounce of blood in later seasons) was: “Which person is what fairy tale character? and, “what fairy tale person will pop up next?” A lot of what they added around those mysteries was solid too…

    …. But the true essence of its goodness was the juxtaposition of the differing goals & motivations belonging to Regina, Emma and Snow. This trinity of women espoused different takes on motherhood (but miss me with that “you’re not my real mom” crap), different expressions of womanhood, different takes on family/friendships, and different views on other hefty topics like responsibility, agency, and culpability. On top of all that was Gold/Rumple slinking around in the background, throwing his own herbs into the trinity’s tea to brew trouble—which made everything more interesting because, while he had a huge male ego and used people, even he acknowledged, at times, that he was dealing with competent female adversaries.

    Season Two was also good because it upped the ante on the mystery hook and offered the overarching question: “what happens now that the curse is broken and magic has come to a world without magic?” (and subsequently: “what will happen now that magic is back in the presence/hands of villains like Regina and Rumple?”) How can you resist watching for those answers, especially if you love you some Regina vs Swan antics and enjoyed season one? This just added another set of build ups and pay offs with nice twists and turns. And, this season fleshed out more of Regina’s backstory, placing you on board that train screaming for her redemption because, yes that rotten apple tree she fell from was some piece of work in the form of Hershey’s Cora. Plus, it expanded on the shows themes about parenting. (One could author a long, long, long paper on this show’s various takes on parenting). The writers really began to weave an intricate mythology behind its major characters in seasons one and two… that they would proceed to squander in the remaining seasons.

    The first two seasons presented their mysteries (big and small) on the money and had interesting character dynamics. The seasons after that began to suffer from “bring in the major properties,” which, in some instances, was more tolerable imho than most people afford it, especially in comparison to that “save Hook” stuff of nobody’s wishes that followed. I do give the writers credit for actually tying the show’s major catastrophes to something either Rumple or Regina did or was a part of, even if only tangentially, in the past… but I absolutely hated it when they conflated Hook’s history to their level and made him the avenue for a “let’s make OUAT great again” campaign (and did so by ruining anything that could have been even remotely interesting about Hook. Like, I don’t know, his mascara game? That ish was fierce). Yes, the granddaddy of all suckage was OUAT’s “praise Hook” approach to storytelling. More on that later…

    … Because I had bones to pick with the show long before Hookmania. Yes this: The show’s disappearing, benched, or axed minorities. Every time I saw a POC character (who was not Mulan because, Disney Dollars for when her live action movie comes out, so she’s still running about somewhere until said movie) I was like: “Here’s another ‘limited edition Lancelot.'” Or: “Watch her go full-on Vader.” I was shocked—shocked I tell you—that Ursula stayed around as long as she did (which was like a day and a half–and don’t get me started on how Gold was giving her servant status while living in her apartment… but, also a big shocker, she was having none of that!) and she had a redemptive arc of sorts (where Hook never atoned for his crappy behavior toward Ursula and then it was, bye Felicia redemption. She just ghosted out!) Still, it was a piss-poor track record that got to such a low point that, if you are a black woman, you couldn’t give this show one iota of love because it gave zero f**ks about you (Rapunzel *cough* black women being about their hair and needing a white savior *cough;* Neal’s girlfriend whatshername being just all types of hell no; Marian being meek and frozen and cheated on and just… what? Dead? Killed off screen? And replaced by a white woman who was essentially in full-on black face to portray her? This is what you write in the year 1810 when, you know, you’re a KKK propagandist; Nimue going full-on Vader and choosing evil to become, omif’inggod, the first Dark One = an original sin so bad even Eve gives her the side eye; Cinderella’s fairy godmother who was around for such a split second of a split moment before she was unceremoniously killed and replaced by Rumple that no one can blame you if you don’t know who I’m talking about or can’t find any evidence of her existence). Yeah, Ursula was an anomaly, alright. I honestly think the writers were surprised about Ursula themselves, and that’s why Ursula just rode out and was over and done with Storybrooke. I think she went to Wakanda where her siren song magic could be welded into vibranium based musical instruments and where her outfit game could actually, you know, shed its dollar store, last minute Halloween cosplay look and reach epic Queen of the Sea status. Y’all ain’t ready for her!

    Still, Season Three supplied that Regina School of Magic™ bridge scene in episode 17 that birthed all those magic lesson scenes in Swan Queen fanfics where Regina shows Emma all the ropes of magic. Yeah, just magic. *wink wink* Regina admires all that magic bottled up inside Swan. Shush, don’t tell anyone.

    I don’t even fault them for bringing in the Frozen arc. Because that sisterhood message between Elsa and Anna (that made the movie good) was mirrored in some ways between Emma and Regina—though they dressed that up as Emma & Anna friendship and Emma & Ice Queen mommy issues—and that was the only part of Frozen being in OUAT that I cared for anyway. Plus, folks got Regina/Evil Queen’s classic rebel yell: “SwaaaAAAAN!” The Frozen stuff wasn’t great, but it didn’t chase me away.

    You know what did chase me away?

    When OUAT became Hooklandia.

    That whole jaunt into the underworld to rescue him. Where two grown a** people left their tiny baby to travel to another realm to rescue a human-garbage pile-of-a-dumpster fire-of-a-non person. Oh, and the squandering of Black Swan. Dark One powers Swan. Lots o’leather wearing dark one powers Swan. Who’s biggest claim to fame is conferring Dark One status to… Hook? Miss me with all that! Totally was the part where they tanked and sank Emma Swan. Can she dress up in pretty dresses? Hell yes. Must she rip off her soul in order to do it? Hell no. Emma just faded into Hook-ness in the most disturbing Stepford Wife way, and this was made all the more distressing and disturbing because Hook became all “grab her by the ****y” Trumpy and was rewarded for it. It’s like the showrunners and writers happily endorsed f**kboy aggro culture to the nth degree with not a drop of remorse.

    Admittedly, I returned to the show for a spell during Season Six. For those episodes where Regina and Emma do their buddy magic act and where Regina redeemed the Evil Queen (omigod, if they had effed that up and had some version of Hook or Hood do the saving, I would’ve hit zero to 100 on running away from that hot mess real quick like nobody’s business).

    Haven’t watched Season Seven yet because it centers on Henry and still has Hook. All the (I heard) good representation of Season Seven was six seasons too late. Might watch season seven someday because I hear Regina…er Roni owns a bar. Has short wavy hair. Wears tank tops. Leather jackets. Jeans. Shows arms. Shoulders. Smiles. Still has snark… Geez, how the hell did they eff that up?!

    OUAT will go down, in my mind, as existing solely as: Seasons One-Two, skip to scenes in Seasons Three-Six that have Regina and Emma alone in them, and then a timelord jump to Season Seven scenes that have Roni/Whoever-Lana Parilla-plays in them and the Alice/Robin storyline scenes, and that’s that.

  6. Cristina May 17, 2018 at 07:44 - Reply

    So… just in case no one could tell in my rant above, lol, I agree with all of your points!
    Quick giddy question just for kicks… you’re in the OUAT writer’s room. Building off Seasons One & Two, what kind of story would you have pitched for the OUAT universe in order to make Swan Queen canon?

    • Lee Winter May 20, 2018 at 03:24 - Reply

      Cristina, I’d have gone with the plot of Scribes and Scrolls’ fanfiction, The Debt and its sequel A Ledger Squared in Blood. It was exciting and set in the fairytale realm just after the curse broke, with Regina on the run, and it including them reconciling the evilness of Regina and finding love with Emma. That’d do me just fine. 🙂

      • Cristina May 21, 2018 at 05:44 - Reply

        Thanks for the rec! I’ll check it out for sure.

  7. michelle.boehlen May 19, 2018 at 01:43 - Reply

    Ms. Winters, the above is brilliant.

    • Lee Winter May 20, 2018 at 03:23 - Reply

      Thanks so much, Michelle. 🙂

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