For today’s post, I have decided to discuss one of my favorite modern media trends. There has been a trend for the last decade-plus of having media (that is films, books, and movies) where the plot is based around fairytale figures. But this particular trend is a mash-up of several fairytale figures into one plot. That is why I personally refer to this as the faerytale mashup! Popular examples that I truly love are Once Upon a Time and Disney’s Descendants. I also did enjoy the Netflix film The School of Good and Evil, but I have yet to read the books, so when I do get to read them I may decide that the film pales in comparison. Other examples that I am less familiar with are Grimm and Tell Me a Story, both of which I have only seen a few episodes of.
The concept of integrating multiple fairytales or folktales into one narrative is similar to the classic monster mash, or as we have more commonly seen in the last couple of decades, the supernatural kitchen sink (where if one supernatural entity exists all do). I have always been a huge fan of both the monster mash type of story, a la Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein, and the supernatural kitchen sink, a la Charmed. So, seeing the faerytale mashup genre grow in popularity was something that made me very happy! I will be honest, I did not begin watching Once Upon a Time until its fifth season because I knew that the premise was right up my alley, but I worried that it was too good to be true. I heard great things from the outset, but I knew that it may just be overhyped. Once I finally gave it a chance, watching the old episodes from the beginning, I felt like I should have watched it since the premiere. I adored the show and the execution of a great concept!
Concerning Disney’s Descendants, I have just recently watched all of the films for the first time on Disney plus. This is another example of my loving the concept, and even loving the author who wrote the novels that the movies are based upon, but fearing that the concept was too good to truly work. Once I actually watched the films, I thoroughly enjoyed them! I truly loved and felt for the characters and felt that the way they integrated the fairytales with modern music was very well done and totally fun! I have always adored a good villain redemption arc, and getting to see the children of the villains become protagonists in their own rights was a real treat!
The School of Good and Evil has its main characters as original ones that go on to interact with classic faerytale figures. This concept is similar to the children of faerytale villains and heroes meeting in Disney’s Descendants. This can also be compared to the character of Emma Swan in Once Upon a Time, who is herself a daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. There is much irony employed in The School of Good and Evil, with the lead female characters ending up in the opposing schools that they believed they would be destined to attend. I really enjoyed having the more presumably textbook “good girl” really feel into her own badness while attending The School of Evil! It was likewise a treat to see the character that assumed she was never good enough become a member of The School of Good.
At the end of the day, the idea of combining many faerytale elements into a singular narrative gives endless possibilities for a unique take on an age-old tale! I hope you have enjoyed this post. What do you think about the concept of faerytale mashups? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
- Once Upon a Time (2011)
- Descendants (2015)
- Descendants 2 (2017)
- Descendants 3 (2019)
- The School of Good and Evil (2022)