Grimm Versus Once Upon a Time

I really shouldn’t be lumping these two shows together because they truly are not in the same category. But I’m doing it because they both came out at the same time this past Fall, and both are based around the idea of fairy tales (though very different fairy tales, to be fair).

Grimm is a murder mystery/police procedural show with a very big twist – the main character is a Grimm, one in a long line of Grimms who can see the creatures the Brothers Grimm wrote about underneath their human mask. His job is to hunt and kill these creatures. But because he wasn’t raised knowing he was a Grimm, he was not raised with the same kind of prejudices toward these creatures. He only takes down those who have done real harm, the same as he would with any human breaking the law.


Once Upon a Time is much more narrative based, revolving around a town full of people who are story book characters – they just don’t know it. The only person who does is a little boy named Henry, the only person to have ever lived in the town who didn’t come from the book, because he was adopted. He puts the pieces together when he’s given the same fairy tale book that they came from by his teacher, Mary Margaret Blanchard. Once he realizes that his adoptive mother is actually the evil queen who cursed everyone and ripped them from their own dimension to live in a town called Story Brooke in Maine, unaware of their true selves, Henry searches for his adoptive mother because, he realizes after reading the book, she’s the daughter of Snow White, and the only person who can save the town from the evil queen.



At first, I preferred Grimm. It was grittier, it was created in part by David Greenwalt, a Buffy writer (so it has that a little of that wit that I missed from Buffy), and it had a very interesting premise.

However, Grimm has failed to make something of that premise. There is no true conflict, no reason for Nick to really fight these things other than the fact that his aunt, who raised him, was the last Grimm, and she died fighting them. You’d think this would be bigger motivation to feel something about the situation, but it has not proven to be. And he is in a stable, nurturing relationship. I get the feeling they will derail it, because that is what they have to do, but they haven’t done it yet, and we’re already three quarters of the way through the first season.

Once Upon a Time, though cheesy at times (they CG everything, and not all that well) , actually gives me a reason to watch. The characters are well written and three dimensional. I actually care about them and what happens, and even the evil queen is obviously an emotional wreck, which makes me more interested in what she does. There is so much conflict here that I absolutely have to watch it now. That’s what a show is supposed to do. That’s how you’re supposed to feel about it.

I will keep watching Grimm with the hope that it gets a bigger dose of conflict and character development – if it doesn’t by the end of the season, though, I just may have to move on. Until then, Once Upon a Time will keep me satisfied.

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