What Once Upon a Time does for feminism *Spoiler alert*
Ugh, Belle. How I adored you as a child. And how I pity you as an adult. Everyone and everything loved you, even though your head was in a book half the time. I loved how you would steal a few moments to yourself to read while on errands, I loved how you didn't realize that people admired you, I loved how oblivious you were, so enraptured with your stories you were. I also loved that you were so devoted to your father, and that he was always so devoted to you (as a self-proclaimed Daddy's girl from childhood, and a gal who was raised in a single-parent family by her Daddy, you can only imagine how much this hit home for me) but really... Stockholm syndrome? Did nobody in Disney say... hold on, we've killed a Mammy (Bambi) and a Daddy (the Lion King) so how about we, y'know, stop fucking with these kids' brains? N'awh. Give a bit of terrifyingly unhealthy relationships disguised as humble heroism.
Anyways, rant over.
Belle in OUT is pretty bland for me (this may be due to my high expectations..?). She hasn't really found her persona yet, but I think this could be viewed as a reflection on her character. She focuses too much on finding the good in others (Rumplestitskin) that she doesn't really focus on herself all that much. She centers her whole life around the man (seems familiar...) and when she's left without him, she's almost at a loss as to what to do. She's teary eyed and lost, like a puppy. But one I'm okay with letting wander for a little bit longer. She undermines her participation in anything - I'm thinking of when she cast a spell to stop intruders getting into Storybrooke or when she sent a message back with Ariel about Wendy, they were both great acts but still, she seems unimpressed with herself.
Similarly to the Beast, Rumple is self-obsessed and self-centered. You're almost left wondering if he's really interested in her or in her idea of him. Which then again leaves us ignoring Belle as a character. C'mon Belle, you can do this! Get your individuality back!
The Evil Queen / Regina Mills
I included the Queen for one important reason, and I also chose her real world character as her comparison image to support this reason: The Queen in OUT is not simply evil. Actually, as a young woman, she seemed quite sweet. OUT really goes out of their way to explain her character and what motivates her to do what she does. You actually come to really pity the character, a woman forced to marry a man she doesn't love, a woman whose true love is actually killed by her own mother. And moreover, a woman who finally finds happiness (and a sense of morality) in the taking care of another human being: her adopted son, Henry.
I absolutely adore the fact that I am now sympathizing with Regina/the Evil Queen. I really am rallying for her, hoping that she does change, that she realizes that people will give her a second chance, if she only believes that they will. Because they will Regina, trust me. Just believe (Team Regina!)
Ariel / Ariel (she wasn't trapped by the curse)
I included Ariel because she's one of the few characters that were not under the influence of the curse (reality) but that enters into this reality eventually. I just wanted to point out what OUT actually changed in this character, in small but important ways that I think make all the difference.
In OUT Ariel finds her own way to Eric after losing him when "Ursula" intervenes. Eric actually has no involvement with their becoming reunited (because you know what? Ariel was always the proactive one. Not Eric. So this makes total sense to me). Another thing that OUT does is that they don't present Ariel as part of a huge, loving family. As a matter of fact, she seems quite isolated, like someone who is looking to escape loneliness. This makes her wanting to be reunited with Eric more logical. And finally, and most importantly, while Ariel can have legs, she isn't stuck with them. She has a bracelet that she can take on and off as she desires.
Not all of OUT is perfect, and I've only chosen a handful of the characters that they include in their fairy-tale show. Not all the characters are super powerful feminist amazonian women set on the world to reconquer what was taken from them in their previous fictional Disney character forms. No, they're characters that were already existent, ones with specific and unique character traits that are both flawed and perfect all at once. OUT plays around with how these personalities would play out in reality, how they would react to different struggles, and most importantly: How they would develop as people.