Once Upon a Time… Happily Never After review: Unusual take on a repetitive story

Rating: 2/5

Once Upon a Time… Happily Never After is a Spanish musical comedy series which tells the story of two lovers caught in a spell, binding them for centuries.

Story

The tale of ‘Once Upon a Time… Happily Never After’ begins in a distorted version of the Middle Ages. Two forbidden lovers, Princess Soledad and a fisherman, Diego are sneaking around together, regardless of the consequences.

The princess has two mothers, one of whom approves of the relationship and the other, who is against it. Anxious about their fate, Diego goes to the local witch to get a spell to bond the two forever.

She offers a blue dragon and states that Soledad and Diego will be together as long as the dragon lives. However, she also says that if one of them dies, the entire town will not fall in love for eternity, unless the dragon is released by them into the lake before the pink moon sets.

Diego, however, goes to war and is tragically killed in battle. The town enters centuries of lovelessness.  

Many years into the future, the townspeople believe that Soledad and Diego are reincarnated and they are destined to be reunited, to break the spell. The series follows three main characters – Maxi, Goya and Juana, and their attempt to figure out who the reincarnated lovers really are.

Performances

Sebastián Yatra delivers a good performance as the anxious Diego and flirty Maxi. He embodies the character in all its quirks. He shows the love blinded nature of both Maxi and Diego perfectly.

Mónica Maranillo brings a passionate performance for both Soledad and Goya. She brings emphasis to portray what each of the two characters believed in and strove for – love and environmentalism respectively.

Nia Correia stuns as the beautiful Juana. She plays her electric and optimistic Juana. She brings forth the character’s independence and personality.

All in all, the performances were well portrayed by the talented actors.

Positives

The series strives towards inclusivity. It features a same sex couple, people of multiple races and sizes, in leading roles.

The storyline of this series offers a refreshing take on the classic ending of every ‘happily ever after’ tales, where the prince and princess reunite. It depicts the princess and her lover as best friends now, while the love interest is a different woman.

Negatives

Making the series a musical seemed extremely unnecessary, as it adds little to nothing to the storyline. The gesture might even come across as taking advantage of having talented singers in the cast.

The storyline is confusing, with the modern elements being present in ancient times, only to shift to the actual modern time.

The plot is also dreadfully slow, as it does not actually progress until the last episode. The audience is left to wonder the origins of many characters until the end.

There are unnecessary details such as the tour group being present, to add comic relief, which fails entirely. The dragon’s presence and pertinence completely misses the mark, as the series tries and fails to bring attention to it.

The comedic elements themselves fail to land and seem drab.

Verdict

‘Once Upon a Time… Happily Never After’ tries to take an age-old story and refresh it, however fails to do so with forgettable musical numbers and an unremarkable plot with dull humour.


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