Saturday, November 4, 2017

In Which I Review Once Upon a Time (7x5)

When it comes to the Disney Princesses, Tiana is just a bit different than your average pretty teenager.  In fact, a lot of purists wouldn't even classify her as a princess at all. More like Belle and less like Aurora, Tiana's main storyline in her movie, "The Princess and the Frog," rests not on finding true love or meeting a handsome prince, but instead on living her life on her terms. Belle wants adventure in the great wide somewhere, Tiana wants to open up a restaurant and serve her famous beignets and other New Orleans inspired cooking. Sure, true love comes along the way (it is a Disney movie, after all) but Tiana does not spend even a fraction of her movie seeking that out and lamenting her lack of a love interest. In other words, Tiana is a modern girl living a modern life. Love happens as Tiana lives her life, which is, more often than not, the case for us mere non-Disney girls. In this week's episode, "Greenbacks," Tiana learns that the hero she needs is herself, not some handsome prince who can save her kingdom. 

Do You Know The Number Of Times I Had to Look Up The Proper Spelling Of Beignets?

It shouldn't surprise viewers a lot, but Tiana's story doesn't match beat for beat the one you would see in the Disney film. Tiana's spunk is still there, though tempered just a bit too much for the live action version to truly resemble the animated one. Tiana, in OUAT, is a princess down on her luck, instead of a hard working serving girl trying to find a big break. Honestly, this doesn't do Tiana much credit because part of her animated version's charm is that she's a working girl; it makes her relatable. All of us can understand the hardships of having to work long hours to make ends meet, and while Tiana and her mother are facing financial ruin, it's not because they were poor to begin with but rather that their kingdom is losing money and they are forced to sell their many expensive goods. Tiana, in OUAT's version, is still traipsing around the woods in a ball gown and jewels whereas the animated Tiana spends a decent amount of time in an apron and waitress gear. Sabine, Tiana's cursed counterpart, has the working girl aspect down pat except she's lacking in the one thing that I think Tiana really needs: common sense. I get that a big part of Disney and of OUAT's borrowing of The Great Mouse is the idea that dreams come true; if you keep on believing a dream that you wish will come true. It's catchy, it's cute, it's schmaltzy and when you're a kid watching an animated princess and her tiny mouse friends sing about it, it's really easy to believe. It's also a load of nonsense. Sometimes, dreams don't come true. They just don't. Dreams require more than just hard work and pluck; they require time, effort, and most importantly money. Maybe I'm just a bitter thirty year old (entirely possibly) but Sabine'e entire idea that in order to make money--enough to pay off the newly escalated rent and, further, to buy a place for her, Jacinda, and Lucy--was to take over a fast food kitchen and make beignets is absolutely ludicrous. And, again, I get that this very in line with Disney and the projection of their brand and what it is they sell, but Tiana--like Belle--is a Disney character I consider to be, at the very least, practical. Sure, she thinks she'll accomplish her dreams someday and she is still a dreamer but she's got a levelheadedness to her that seems to be completely missing from Sabine. There are a myriad of problems with hedging your entire financial success on making some pastries. What happens when the manager of Mr. Cluck's comes back and won't let you work out of his kitchen? What happens when the demand for your beignets goes down after the novelty wears off? What happens when Sabine and Jacinda need to shell out more money to outfit the food truck with a stove, counter tops, and supplies? In a mythological realm, like the Enchanted Forest or even a Disney movie, these problems are rather nonexistent because reality in those worlds operates on belief and heart and not...y'know...actual reality. But Hyperion Heights isn't set in those worlds; it's supposed to be in the real world which is why I was so pleased to see Jacinda call out Sabine for her ridiculous ideas, at least initially. This is also why the Tiana side of the story--the flashbacks--felt a little more palatable than the Hyperion Heights side. Tiana's endgame--after much rigmarole--is to appeal to the prince for aid in her kingdom; she's no longer thinking about marriage or how a rich prince will save her but is taking matters into her own dainty hands, rolling up her sleeves and trying negotiation, something Sabine doesn't even consider for a moment when Victoria ups the rent. In other words, it makes Tiana look levelheaded and Sabine look rather dense, though given that the curse might break at any moment, I suppose that's not altogether bad.

Miscellaneous Notes on Greenbacks

--Can you tell I didn't have a whole lot to talk about this week? It wasn't a bad episode but the writers are still just throwing a lot of plot spaghetti at the wall and unlike in past years, I have little interest in trying to wade through it all. I am content to let it unfold on its own.

--Drizella is slowly becoming one of my favorite parts of this new season. I like her passive aggressive snark and her killer wardrobe.

--“I do have a few friends…on the other side.”

--The handsome prince and his lady love both turned into frogs! +10 for that twist; didn’t see that coming even a mile away! Actually started laughing hysterically.

--I’m not sure what it is, but I find the way Gabrielle Anwar plays Victoria to be really off putting. Maybe it’s her voice or slightly plastic-y face, but she’s just not doing it for me.

--"Ralph....wreck it!"

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