ABC's Once Upon A Time aired its first episode almost six years ago. Coming in the fall, the show will return to its usual Sunday night timeslot for another round of damsels defying the distress standard, dastardly villains wreaking havoc, and happy endings finding their true meanings. Now, any show should and would be proud to accomplish the longevity of six seasons. Most don't get even close to that. And because the show is entering that potentially fatal year, one has to wonder if the series will get a proper shot at its own happily ever after.
The Ratings Don't Bode Well for The Series
Since the finale of season one, Once Upon A Time has had a scary decline in ratings with each episode, with the rare jewel propping them up a tick or two during the season. Season five was no different. It faltered big time, just as the seasons before it, when it came to bringing in big numbers for its parent network. Many fans believe this is due to the steady increase of Disney properties, such as Brave, Frozen, and Hercules, working their way too deeply into the webbing of the series that started out with two wholy original characters in Emma Swan and the son she gave up for adoption. If the series continues its decline into season six, it can almost certainly be expected that the show will either not continue or be given an order for a seventh and final season.
The Quality Is Starting to Suffer a Bit
Don't get me wrong, I'm a nineties kid, I love Disney movies and everything Disney just as much as the next guy. But, Once Upon A Time is pushing it a little bit when it comes to what originality they bring to the table with the inclusion of these character's iconic stories. I never once thought I would find myself rolling my eyes at an episode of OUAT. Never. I fell in love with the show from the first five minutes of episode one and I have relentlessly defended it to nay-sayers and people who look down on it. But, especially with season five, it became harder and harder to do that. I felt cheated at times, imagining what could possibly be going on in the writer's room at ABC. Too much focus is put on the Disney properties, way too much, and not enough is put towards making the show as enchanting as it was in 2011.
The Acting Has Definitely Been Better
If the actors can't believe the situations their characters are in, it shows. And then the audiences ability to dismiss reality for the hour long period just shrivels away and dies. This inability to step into the shoes of the characters shows most in two of the series' main stars: Emilie de Ravin and Jared Gilmore. Ravin portrays Belle of Beauty and The Beast fame while Gilmore portrays the original character Henry Mills, son of Emm Swan and The Evil Queen and grandson of Snow White and Prince Charming.
Ravin's (who's Australian by birth) accent on the series - her no so great attempt to give her character an old time feel - has become like nails on a chalkboard. Maybe if it weren't for that, I'd be able to believe that she believes. But even so, her inability to commit fully - either through her own fault or the obvious neglect in the writer's room - has become such a huge problem for her character. At this point, Belle really serves no meaningful or believable purpose on the show, at least not enough to warrant her remaining a series regular.
In Gilmore's case, he was great when he was younger, but somewhere around season 3, that all just changed. He bumbles around the screen like he's forgotten his lines and is either just terrible at improv or the director just doesn't care to do another take. It's obvious he's not putting his best foot forward any longer. And that, to me, is an utter disappointment.
So, Do These Reasons Merit a Series Finale in Season 6?
Of course not. At least, not yet. The show has yet to air its sixth season and I, for one, will never stop believing the show can return to the magical glory of its freshman season. For many fans like myself, we have to believe its going to get better year after year after year. Sometimes, that's all we have to convince ourselves to keep watching. Co-creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz have promised that the show will return to the small arc formula it used in season one. But, if memory serves correct, they've been making similar promises for years now. And I just don't know if can find the strength to believe in them any longer.
Only time will tell.
Once Upon A Time returns this September at 8:00 PM Eastern time on ABC.