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Fractured Fairy Tale: The Appeal and the Danger of 'Once Upon a Time'

The show's emphasis on the power of love is its strength—and weakness.

ABC's big surprise hit this year doesn't feature lawyers, police officers, doctors, or any other primetime staples. It features princesses, imps, talking crickets, magic mirrors, and an evil queen.

Once Upon a Time has consistently scored high in the ratings this season with its unique mix of classic fairy tales and modern mores. The story begins with Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), a no-nonsense bounty hunter, being found by the son she had given up for adoption. Young Henry (Jared Gilmore) tells Emma that the town of Storybrooke, Maine, where he lives, is full of fairy tale characters who are under a dark spell that only she can break.

Naturally, Emma is disinclined to believe his theory. But meeting Henry's adoptive mother, Regina (Lana Parrilla), convinces her that something is wrong with his situation, and that she needs to figure out what it is. Meanwhile, flashbacks reveal to us that Henry has, in fact, stumbled upon the truth: The residents of Storybrooke are indeed enchanted fairy ...

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