Beauty & the Beast in Pop Culture

For the final day of Beauty & the Beast Week, I have decided to discuss Beauty & the Beast in pop culture.   Yesterday, I went over why I believe this type of tale has had such enduring appeal over the centuries.   Today, I want to get into different ways this type of tale has been used in pop culture over time.

First, I want to go over how the Beauty and the Beast story was used in the television show Once Upon A Time.   In the course of the first season, we get to see that the Beast of the tale is actually a character that we had known from the first episode, Mr. Gold or Rumpelstiltskin.    The choice of having Rumple be the Beast figure was an interesting choice.   He had already been acknowledged as being a figure known as the Dark One who had an insane amount of magical ability.   He was known to use his magic for all sorts of evil deeds and to trick others as he saw fit.   Even in his original fairytale Rumpelstiltskin is an evil faery being who plots to steal a baby, fitting into a character type that we would easily see as beastly.   That is why I enjoyed the entwining of him as being the Beast of the Beauty and the Beast subplot on that series.   I do want to acknowledge that I think this is one of the least functional variants of this fairytale couple.   Rumple routinely goes back to using dark magic for bad intent against the wishes of his partner Belle.   He hurts her emotionally and lies to her many times over the course of the series.   This means that the growing together and bringing out the best in one another that we usually see in this tale type (and that is the primary appeal, as I discussed in yesterday’s post) is not present in this version.    So although I liked how they worked this into the plot of the show, I do not like the way the relationship itself unfolded.

Now I will move on to other portrayals of this tale type in pop culture.   Primarily the usage of this type of story is common in supernatural and paranormal romance stories.    The most obvious way this is used is in a supernatural creature falling in love with a human trope.   I could go over an endless amount of examples of this type of story, but this post would be endlessly long if I did.   So I will instead just mention a couple of my favorites.    The romantic entanglements in The Vampire Diaries (both the books and the series) show the Beauty and the Beast tale type in the relationships between humans and vampires and humans and werewolves.   I want to give special mention to my favorite relationship that never really fully was from The Vampire Diaries television series.   Of course, that is Caroline and Klaus.   Now, I know that Caroline is a Vampire herself which may raise some questions as to how she could possibly be the Beauty (who is normally a human) in this set-up.   But, Caroline is a young vampire who has just been turned when she meets the thousand-year-old Hybrid.   This means that Klaus is very much the one with the more powerful masculine and beast-like energy in their dynamic.   There is very much this Big Bad Wolf energy to Klaus in his Hybrid power, but being around Caroline softens him and brings out his emotions as well as his desire to protect those less powerful than himself!   Caroline is able to more fully embrace her love of her vampire nature because of Klaus, after all, it is him that gets her to admit she would never want to be a human again because she likes herself better this way!   That is an example of the balance of masculine and feminine energies bringing out the best of one another that I talked about in yesterday’s post to the letter!

Finally, I want to discuss my favorite television relationship of all time.   To regular readers here at White Rose of Avalon, it is likely unsurprising that I would bring up Phoebe Halliwell and Cole Turner here.   On Charmed, the Phoebe and Cole relationship was the most beloved by many fans.   I think this is because it is an example of a Beauty and the Beast dynamic done well.   Phoebe is a good witch, one of the most powerful ones of all time to be exact.   Cole is the human name of the demon Balthazor, as he is an upper-level demon he has a human half (in his case his father was a human).   When Cole met Phoebe it was an assignment to kill the Charmed Ones, but in getting close to her he truly did fall in love.   Even upon learning who he truly was, Phoebe could not vanquish him and let him go.   They came back together to form a relationship that truly brought out the best in each other, with Phoebe softening Cole and proving to him how good of a man he could be and Cole showing Phoebe that she could be taken seriously and make a great wife (two things that, at the time, she was sure she would fail at)!   While their love did end in tragedy with Cole becoming the Source of All Evil and Phoebe becoming his Queen before having to vanquish him, it did not have to end like that.   I feel that had the writers made different choices, Phoebe could have forgiven Cole and they could have healed from those events over time, just as they had during the initial time Phoebe found out he was a demon.   But, I digress as that was never to be.    But I will finish by reiterating that the course of their relationship over seasons three and four of Charmed show us the Beauty and the Beast tale type used in fantasy television in a lovely way!

I hope that you have enjoyed this week of Beauty and the Beast-themed content for this year’s Love Week and in honor of Valentine’s Day.   Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my amazing readers!   What is your favorite usage of the Beauty and the Beast tale type in pop culture?   Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Further Watching/Reading

  • Once Upon A Time (2011)
  • The Vampire Diaries Series by L.J. Smith
  • The Vampire Diaries (2009)
  • Charmed (1998)