WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS FOR ABC’S ONCE UPON A TIME.
Ah…Once Upon a Time….a show once so wondrous and imaginative now a collection of overused tropes and timeline retcons.
I remember back in the day when I was first introduced to this show and how much I enjoyed the colorful characters, the intriguing plot lines, and the level of heart that went into the making of this show.
However, now that I look back on it there is something that wasn’t quite right with the premise from the off.
For those of you who don’t know, Once Upon A Time is about story-book characters who are ripped from the pages of their fairytales by the Evil Queen from Snow White and placed into “our world” where they live in complete obliviousness as to whom they used to be. Only the world-weary daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming can break the curse and restore everyone’s memories.
Now, it’s an interesting concept and, arguably, season 1 has the best plot. However, there is one issue with it that has bugged me about it for years: The curse itself.
Taking into account nobody remembers their past triumphs this seems like a good curse, right? Regina is large and in charge with everyone under her thumb and the Charmings are kept apart.
This was totally a good plan, wasn’t it?
Here’s the thing: While Regina took away a lot of things, she gave them so much more.
1. The townsfolk now have access to modern medicine. From what little we’ve seen of The Enchanted Forest, it seems like they were mostly dependent upon shamans and midwives for their healthcare. Sure, some of the higher-born characters likely had physicians to attend to them but the peasants would have appealed to someone like Rumplestiltskin to end their suffering, and, as the imp is fond of saying “magic always comes with a price.” Even if he did end their woes temporarily it is very likely it would come at the cost of something (or someone) very valuable to them.
Without the curse many townsfolk would have died in childbirth or any other illness but now that they live in a modern world with a fully-operational hospital that likelihood has been drastically reduced. Thanks, Regina.
2. Electricity and other modern appliances. No more chopping down firewood in the dead of winter or broiling in the summer heat. I can’t even imagine how many house fires have been avoided because of the lack of unattended candles or poorly doused furnaces.
Electricity allows for so much like communication, entertainment that doesn’t involve watching people being executed, and much faster methods of producing food.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg. Activities that used to take people weeks to do now take a matter of hours or even minutes. They now have machines that do the clothes washing for them. They have horseless carriages to tote them around. They have leisure time which, back in the middle ages, was considered unheard of.
Also, indoor plumbing.
Need I say more?
3. Access to supermarkets and fresh food. Hunting can result in a lot of deaths. Back in the day you often ran the risk of becoming lost, being shot by an errant arrow, or even being gored by the very creature you were hoping to make your prey. However, thanks to Regina, the townsfolk no longer have to concern themselves with this. Now they can simply go to the store and purchase it at a reasonable price. As an added bonus, they no longer have to worry about famine or plague destroying their crops which would have lead to their deaths in The Enchanted Forest.
4. They have free public education. There’s no question that public education has it’s foibles, but just consider how much of a boon it is for society. It’s difficult for us to comprehend now, but there was a time when more than half of the population couldn’t even read and that was considered the norm. Without Regina’s curse, most of these people probably wouldn’t have had anything more than a first grade education, if that. Most of them would have been relegated to working on the farm/mill/shop until the day they dropped with no hope of bettering their circumstances without the aid of magic.
That brings us to our final point.
5. No more magic. Emma can attest to the fact that the world is a hard and painful place even without spells or cantrips. However, once you add magic into the equation, the amount of suffering you can put someone through is limited only by your imagination. Ruby murdered her own boyfriend as a result of her magical condition that turns her into a werewolf, Geppetto’s parents were turned into puppets, Ursula had her singing voice taken away, Merlin was stuck as a tree for hundreds of years, and these are only a handful of examples. Magic seems to be the main cause of strife for many of our protagonists and Regina essentially “trapped” them in a world without it. How is that bad for anyone besides Regina?
I know some people may argue that Regina made them forget their loved ones, which is obviously a bad thing, but here’s the issue: they didn’t know they had forgotten them. It’s like torturing someone but then having them drink a memory potion to forget what they have been through. What is the point?
She didn’t curse them.
She gave them 1st world problems.
Honestly, I could go on and on about all the benefits that come with living in a modern society, nevertheless, I think I’ve made my point.
Regina is officially the unsung hero of Once Upon A Time and may have saved everyone’s lives long before she made the journey to the good side.
So bow down, peasants, before your true Savior.
And don’t forget to eat your apples.