Recently I’ve been catching up on one of my favourite TV series – Once Upon a Time.
It’s an entertaining show for many reasons.
The writers are having fun writing the scripts and storylines, and the actors seem to be having fun playing with what they have been given. Delving into things that fairy tales are made of and twisting them around, relating them to reality in a way which is intriguing and insightful.
Happy endings… has become synonymous with what spurs the darkest heart to even greater darkness, what makes a villain strong and what makes a hero weak – perhaps even turning the greatest good into the greatest evil. When good turns to evil for the sake of a happy ending… it still sees itself as good. Evil is a bit less delusional (not by much), even when it is chasing illusions.
That’s probably just my take on it, but I wonder… as those who write the show wonder, share their wondering and prompt me to wonder.
It likes to turn those fairytales, legends, myths, and Disney cartoons on their head. That’s something which hits a sweet spot for me, as I like to flip things around and explore the flip side of the conventional side.
Goldilocks… I can’t recall if Once Upon a Time has dealt with this story. One character did refer to it sarcastically, but… oh, memory! How memory works and doesn’t work! Either way, it causes all sorts of problems!
He’s giving me a look like I’m Goldilocks, ate his porridge, broke his chair, slept in his bed, and now it’s payback time.”
― Charles de Lint
Goldilocks and her quandary…
That particular tale was one which created a bond between me and my mother early on in my life. My mother and I weren’t of the bonding sort, especially not with each other, so this was novel.
To put this into perspective…
My mother was not a strong influence in my life when I was a baby because she was physically not there. She was ill due to giving birth to me (my existence literally made her physically sick), and therefore others stepped into the breach. She also had one of those moments of not wanting me after I arrived (she told me this on many an occasion, just in case I didn’t hear it loud and clear the first time, so that I would, I guess, be grateful that she put up with me… or something like that).
This sort of thing happens. We want something so badly, may go to extremes to get it, and then when we get it… we don’t want it because it’s not exactly what we thought it would be when we were dreaming about it. The magic came at a price… which we thought we could avoid paying because we were different and special and not like everyone else.
I was handed off to others for my care, and later taken back and found to be flawed because of what those others who had cared for me had done to me. Like feeding me when I was hungry – this made me ‘fat’, which apparently was a ‘bad’ thing. Or paying attention to me when I cried – this made me needy and expectant to have my needs met when I cried, it also made me a ‘cry baby’ which was a bad thing for a baby to be as my crying was annoying to my mother for many reasons, some of which were issues she had about herself when she was a baby.
To put it simply, I was not ‘just right’. I was too hot, too cold, too hard, too soft, too high too low, too wahtever which was never good enough.
And never would be, as ‘just right’ for my mother was a quest never to be reached, but to always be pursued by her and by all those whom she came across in her life as a Goldilocks.
Bears… U R doing it wrong.
This is just one of those coincidences… these illustrations are genius… this particular Ursula doesn’t like make up, but also doesn’t need someone else to give me ‘permission’ about being the boss of my face. Then again ‘Ursula’ is just my nickname due to me being a bit like a bear.
This theme of Goldilocks and the Bears played out for the rest of our relationship, with my mother playing the part of Goldilocks who was very finicky, picky, and in pursuit of perfection (according to her), of an ideal which to her was a blissful dream, but to me (as all the bears) became a frigging nightmare.
That she was a burglar and breaker in of someone else’s home… yeah… Goldilocks didn’t really consider her part in the whole, at least not in my mother’s version of the tale, and always saw herself, and was written up, as the hero in search of a happily ever after for herself (always impeded by the imperfections of others which ruined everything for her).
Ah… the happily ever after of others who see you as the others and everything goes tits and arse up from there.
There was a period in my childhood when my mother told me the tale of Goldilocks every night. Each time she told it, it was different – she did not use a book from which she read, she used her imagination of a story she had once read and now owned.
Each time she told it, the only consistent element was that she was Goldilocks.
If I was anyone in it, it was the bowl of porridge which was too hot or too cold, or the chair which was too high or too low, or the bed which was too hard or too soft. Or maybe the bears (but she wasn’t the one who gave me the nickname, if she had been, I would not be using it). She added other extras of too this or too that which were never just right. I was always one or the other or both, but never that elusive just right.
The goal for me, as I came to understand it, was to be the thing which was just right for Goldilocks – what I didn’t understand at the time was that this goal was impossible to achieve. Goldilocks, in reality, would never be satisfied with anything or anyone.
That’s a perfectionist for you!
I realised that much later in life, that ‘just right’ was not meant to be, once the damage was done.
Some of this damage has, at least according to me, become a blessing in disguise of a curse of sorts.
I run away from just right when I see it as though it was a plague, especially when that just right is one created by others and those others want it from me.
Personally, I don’t really have a just right, I have a that’ll do and let’s see what happens.
Some people consider that ‘settling’ for something that isn’t good enough for you, for them, is the ultimate villainy of life. They’re ‘just righters’ and nothing and no one is every good enough for their ‘just righteousness’.
I don’t know what’s right for you, I only know what’s okay with me. I want to land and feel my feet touch ground before my fuel runs out and I crash.
When I’m faced with a decision these days, I’m not after what is ‘just right’ for me in the role of Goldilocks. I don’t want to be Goldilocks, she disrespected the Bears’ home and the Bears, she had her reasons, and then ran away… before benefiting from the facing the consequences.
That’s her problem and dream ideal of perfect. Not mine. As far as a bowl of porridge and chair and bed is concerned, I can accept what is here, now, and offering itself as an option, and I prefer to be invited rather than forcing my way in.
Then see what happens from there.
Which actually makes… making decisions a bit of a nightmare because every option has pros and cons and possibilities within each pro and con which is both good and bad and all the shades in between. And may depend on others and respecting their say in the matter.
Let’s just say… I’m not particularly adept at deciding and choosing, and prefer it when I pick at random and just go with the adventure which unfolds from that choice. The consequences are wizards of teaching life lessons and… whatever. Learning is a learning curve. Sometimes someone else is drawing the line.
Regrets… part of it all. Those wonderful imperfections which make the imperfect look rather lovely, especially if compared to (that rigid prison of) perfection.
Not the most practical or popular way to go in a world which sees idealism and perfectionism, and the pursuit of it, as a sign of someone being ‘just right’.
Eff it, I’m a mess… and that’s my just right, if I have one.
Beware of those who are ‘just right’ in a perfect ideal kind of way, or who are focused on finding what or who is ‘just right’ in a perfect kind of way for them… nothing and no one is ever good enough for them.
Or so my version of the Goldilocks’ syndrome goes… they can’t handle being ‘wrong’, will seek out every flaw in you and others and things (and worse still, they see that in themselves and make others pay for it)… and a fail is the most likely ending.
And if you’re a Goldilocks… be aware that you may not be able to handle it when your just right is embodied by another person… when your Mr. or Miss Right lets you down by not living up to your high ideals. The fairytale falls apart and the pain that causes may make your happily ever after an elusive good which may make you a bit evil which is convinced that every evil it commits is for the good of the world. You ‘just right’ becomes a never-ending nightmare for you and for all.
That’ll do… let’s see what happens
Yup – Goldilocks. Not my favourite fairy tale character.
Good post. 🙂
Thank you 🙂
Goldilocks basically broke into someone else’s happy home, criticised everything, vandalised it, made a mess then ran away leaving someone else to clean up her mess. It’s a weird fairy tale. Mind you, most fairy tales seem to be cautionary tales. I think our modern take on the concept of fairy tale has a lot to do with Disneyfication. Most of the stories were very dark, Disney just airbrushed them.
My favourite fairy tale is one which is sometimes known as ‘Salt over Gold’. It’s Russian.
What’s your favourite fairy tale?
I love that you brought up the dark side of the fairytale as often that is what they are deep dark insights into psychological dynamics which are true to life in the deepest, darkest way….Recently been re reading Thomas Moore’s book on Dark Nights of the Soul and he makes the point over and over that we dumb down much in this day and age and sanitise it literally smoothing over the deep dark depths of it (at least in mainstream media). I haven’t got to watch this show yet but am intrigued now.
Thomas Moore has some great insights!
The dark side of fairytales has always had a fascination for me. One of the best modern books about that is the Clarissa Pinkola Estes one – Women Who Run With The Wolves. She explored the meaning of the stories passed down through generations. The TV series Once Upon A Time does an intriguing take on it. And makes Happily Ever After very sinister.
The light is most luminous when it is juxtaposed with darkness. Grass is never so green as it is when there is a thunderstorm 🙂
Love that book so much and loved hearing some of her cassettes on the fairytales I really identified with. Yesterday we had this blood red sky in a day of rain and wind and the colours were so intense it was achingly beautiful, a good entry point to the Taurus time of year. ❤
You live in one of the most stunning places on Earth (with some really scary critters), it must be magnificent to take in so much awesome and wild beauty.
The story of the rainbow serpent is a wonderful tale.
Oh… I saw a fun and quirky Aussie film the other night – Mental (2012) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1655416/ – I don’t know if you’d enjoy it or have seen it, but some of the ideas in it were very interesting. It’s basically about everyone being a bit mad, and that’s okay 🙂
I love that show too! A bunch of complex, imperfect female characters, who get to have complex, imperfect relationships with one another! And no, they haven’t talked Goldilocks. (I really like how you’ve made your own path through that tale, btw.)
My one major beef with OUAT? The rehabilitated Beast aspect of Rumpelstiltskin. Which…just no. He’s violent and cruel to Belle, he constantly plays headgames on her, he murdered his first wife by literally RIPPING OUT HER HEART — yet the show keeps expecting us to believe there’s a real love story in him.
Not enough NOPE in the world…
Thank you 🙂
The whole ‘love’ story between Belle and Rumpel is my least favourite storyline, but for a different reason – Belle refuses to accept Rumpel as he is, as he keeps showing her and telling her that he is. He keeps warning her about himself. She refuses to listen, to see him as he actually is, and keeps trying to change him into who she wants him to be for her. That is a big Nope for me.
She brought him back from the dead after he had finally done something honourable, finally faced his own inner demon, and his resurrection cost his son his life, and then she expects him to be good, nice, be someone else to please her and play house. Nope!
I must fess up to the fact that Rumpel is my favourite character (in large part due to loving Robert Carlyle as an actor). I like the way that he always warns people about himself and the price of magic, of getting what they want by taking a short cut, and they never listen. It’s a clever plot device and a rather chilling insight into human nature (which is why I love the show).
They don’t really let their characters get away with anything.
Do you watch Grimm?
So we’re agreed: the Belle/Rumpel “if this is a love story, it’s a really sh!tty one” plotline has got to go! 🙂
I love the Rumpel character (and Robert Carlyle’s performance? *swoon*) as well. Belle strikes me as just so implausible and vacuous a character, I have no opinion on her beyond annoyance.
Yes, I watch Grimm. (Monroe — and Silas Weir Mitchell — such fun!) I really enjoy the central characters and their relationships, and the broad story arcs. The episode-specific characters & plots often strike me as suffering from lazy storytelling, from racial and/or gender perspectives, which is disappointing — but also pretty common for TV shows, unfortunately.
Definitely agreed! 🙂
I get uncharacteristically excited (about TV) when there’s a new episode of Grimm. Silas Weir Mitchell is superb, very intriguing actor. And I love Trubel. Great character. I like the fact they they often deviate from what is expected, and that they don’t often feel the need to make their clever characters suddenly stupid to advance the plot (really hate it when TV shows do that). However I do find the whole ‘Royalty’ storyline a bit tedious. I prefer it when they stick to an individual case in Portland and explore the different Wesen, tales and myths. There are quite a few holes in their formula, but there is still a lot of novel fun to it.
For me a good TV show is one where I can’t predict what’s going to happen next or what the characters are going to say, which is getting harder to find as I watch way too much TV. 😉
Have you ever watched The Booth at the End. That’s a very strange show, rather fascinating.
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