'Once Upon a Time' Season 5 Adds 'Brave's Merida, But Diversity Should Go Beyond Red Hair
Anyone who reads my posts with any regularity likely already knows that I'm the official Once Upon A Time Queen. I have a true and deep-seated affection for the series and love everything about it, and I enjoy getting all meta about it at every available opportunity. Whether it's dissecting the intricacies of Emma and Regina's relationship or speculating about the true nature of the Dark One, there's no element of Once that I find unworthy of discussion. But one thing I would love to talk about more is diversity in Storybrooke and beyond — a fact made even more apparent after news broke that the latest princess to join OUAT is none other than Brave's Merida.
I know many will argue that Once hasn't entirely neglected non-white characters, and of course we have to acknowledge the likes of Mulan, Ursula, and Rapunzel. But at the same time, none of those characters were given much depth due to episode time constraints and ongoing plotlines — so, I would love to see a diverse character with even more depth.
This is not so say there wasn't potential with Mulan, Ursula, and Rapunzel's storylines. While we never got to know Rapunzel well enough to even begin to speculate on where her story could have gone, Mulan's backstory could have easily been utilized so audiences could learn how she became the fearsome warrior she was, why she was traveling alone, where her family was, how she came to know Prince Phillip to begin with, and when she knew she was in love with Aurora.
In Ursula's case, she was introduced as a dark character, but it was never really explained what was so "dark" about her. We got to see a bit of her youth — though that exploration was only to endear Hook to the audience more — and then she hit the road with her father, never to be seen again. I was sorry to see her go and felt there was potential there to give Ursula more to do. Perhaps we could have been given flashbacks of young Ursula with the mother who meant so much to her to illustrate the importance of their relationship. Maybe we could have seen her continue to mend her bond with her father, from whom she'd been separated for so many years. Maybe she could return and show us all of this? (C'mon Once!)
And though fans were left feeling as though they wanted more storylines from Ursula, Mulan, and more, we now have Merida. Which is great — Merida is another fantastic example of a strong, badass woman. Still, there are more diverse characters that could have found their way into the storyline, and perhaps still should find their way into the storyline. We still haven't met Aladdin's Jasmine, The Princess and the Frog's Tiana, The Hunchback of Notre Dame's Esmerelda, and Pocahontas.
Given that Once is a series which reflects the ideas of love and strength — particularly when it comes to women — I'd love to see more representation on this season and beyond. So, please, Once, give fans that sort of happy ending — and maybe work Jasmine into the storyline somehow, because I can imagine her being a real badass on this show.