Parents' Guide to

Once Upon a Time... Happily Never After

By Stephanie Morgan, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Progressive, raunchy anti-fairy tale is a visual delight.

TV Netflix Drama 2022
Once Upon a Time Happily Never After poster

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What would you get if you turned Bridgerton into a telenovela, asked Baz Luhrmann to direct, and made it a musical? Judging by the chaotic nature of Once Upon a Time... Happily Never After, the show's creators aren't exactly sure, but it sure is entertaining watching them try to figure it out. Everything here is over-the-top, from the characters -- ever ready to burst into a well-choreographed song -- to the sumptuous costumes and edgy sets reminiscent of Romeo + Juliet and Ever After. The melodrama is relentless, topped only by sex scenes spicy enough to make even Shonda Rhimes blush.

All this adds up to a viewing experience best consumed in small doses. Even at just six episodes, the series is still about two episodes too long, especially if watched all at once. The novelty begins to wear off and, though the supporting players are a delight, the protagonists aren't revealed to be terribly likable or the ending completely satisfactory. Just when it all gets to be too much, the show's uniquely feminist, sex-positive brand of dry humor persists and reminds viewers exactly what the series is striving to be: the exuberant escapism we all still need. This one won't be everyone's cup of tea but, for the right audience, it'll be a joyful surprise.

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