Throwdown the Results Show: Once Upon a Time vs. Grimm

By Tim Surette

Nov 17, 2011

Welcome back to Throwdown! It's the second week of this series and our first ever results show! Last week we asked you to tell us which new fairy tale drama does a better job of bringing the classic stories to life—Grimm and its real-world fairy tales, or Once Upon a Time and its dual universes that keep fairy tales intact and separate from our world—and boy, did you respond! Pat yourselves on the backs, guys, because the story received more than 200 comments and many of you showed real passion for the topic.

Those of you who skimmed the votes already know which show won: Once Upon a Time in a landslide. By my tally, the final vote was 95 to 31 in favor of Ginnifer Goodwin's Snow White, though some of your votes were open to interpretation and I used discretion where applicable. There were also three votes for the very mature "Neither, they both suck," and five write-in votes for Supernatural. I hope Supernatural gets at least five write-in votes in every subsequent Throwdown.

Here's a graphical breakdown of Grimm versus Once Upon a Time, based on your votes, because graphs are cool:

Which show brings fairy tales to TV better?
Grimm, 31 votes | Once Upon a Time, 95 votes

Grimm totally got Pac-Man'd by Once Upon a Time, but there were plenty of great arguments from both sides. Let's look at some of the highlights.

Kodash89 said: "Once Upon a Time is excellent, I wouldn't say that it has left the way we know fairy tales completely intact (or this Disney way) either. Snow ... more White is hella more feisty then we ever knew, the whole robbing from Prince Charming thing added a depth that wasn't there in the Disney story, now we know why he just turns up out of the blue and slaps one right on her ruby lips."

Osdawa16 said: "Grimm, by far, is better. It is a much more unique take on the fairy tales. The storyline never occurred to me. The Grimms that wrote the fairy tales actually fought to control/stop the villains they wrote about? What a cool idea. Not to mention the production. I'm partial to dark shows in general, but the way Grimm is filmed is entirely captivating."

Arch_Angel88 said: "I must endorse Once Upon a Time. I prefer the method they have chosen to portray the realm of fairy tales, as opposed to Grimm's darker interpretation. Grimm attempts to merge fantasy and reality, with its mythos purporting that the stories of the Brothers Grimm were factual accounts of history. Personally, I don't care for this plot device. Grimm's clear-cut procedural format of having to defeat a monster every week is rather dry. We have come to associate fairy tales with the wonderment of magic and enchanting ethereality. Once Upon a Time offers us an intricately complex world of breathtaking landscapes, fantastical creatures, and rich characters. We have already been introduced to several prominent fairy tale figures, and by showing them in two alternate universes, the development of these characters is far more comprehensive. Grimm is more about the supernatural living amongst us, and keeping the evil ones at bay. It simply does not feel as though I'm watching a fairy tale. The same could NEVER be said about Once Upon a Time."

TrueTVWatcher said: "I myself must say I like Grimm more. All myths and legends are based on seeds of truth, or so the saying goes, and Grimm applies this theory by interpreting the source material of the stories and applying it in a creative yet realistic, if-it-were-true way. I love the dark tones of the characters so far, and the back story about the Grimm family and their studies is a great idea. This show reminds me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in many ways and that makes it even more interesting to me!"

Summerqueen said: "OuaT does it better. Even though the two worlds are separate and ne'er the twain shall meet, seemingly, you have point-for-point contrast enabled between the storybook and Storybrook versions of the fairy tales. It's a show that challenges us to look for the objective truth in the Classic Fairy Tale and see it shimmering and glimmering between the cracks in the mundane world. It puts meta-narrative in play in a way that Grimm simply fails to do. In that sense, Grimm, though darker and supposedly grittier, has less force and less realism. It doesn't actually ask us to think about the fairy tales in the offing or their cultural uses, why we need them, why we tell them, how they explain cultural phenomena, etc."

ktfahel said: "My vote is for OUAT because it's a show that our whole family can enjoy. My young daughters love both the fairy tale land AND the modern Maine town (we're also New Englanders, and they love that connection). My 9-year-old daughter says, 'The show is intense, but the fairy tales fit in.' My husband and I love the mystery and the action. Grimm is not exactly what I would call family-friendly."

DwayneMason0 said: "Grimm all the way!! I prefer Grimm because it's how the fairy tales were originally before they became Disneyfied! The procedural aspect works really well with Grimm whereas OUAT is a serialized show, so if you miss one episode you might get lost. My main problem with OUAT is that they are doing too much too fast. We've already seen Snow White, Evil Queen, Maleficent, Rumpelstiltskin, Pinocchio, Gepetto, and so many other classic characters we are familiar with. They already plan on introducing Belle, Gaston, and more in Season 1! Point being... once you introduce every fairy tale character we've come to know, you run out of ways to wow us because it's not like Belle is a regular character. Grimm has the smarter approach of doing a little at a time."

Thank you to everyone who wrote in! We'll be back tomorrow with a brand-new Throwdown, so get your thinking caps and pondering skirts out of the washing machine and prepare yourselves for another civilized debate.

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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  • CharlesMethod Feb 09, 2012

    alright watched once upon a time and watched grimm. i thank once upon a time is an ok show. but i much prefer grimm i thank grimm is the best show out other than supernatural of course but if the cancle grimm for once upon a time i thank nbc should just shut there business down.....

  • lulabele2424 Jan 12, 2012

    Disclaimer: Supernatural wins. Period.

    Hmm. I think that (for me) they're too different to compare. Once Upon a Time and Grimm are both good shows in my opinion, but as shown from the reviews quoted above, it's a matter of personal taste versus which one is actually a better show. (Sorry if I'm not making sense). See, I prefer Grimm because I'm a sucker for both police dramas and fantasy-ish shows, and this combines them in a way that I think makes it more original than Once Upon a Time. I also just happen to prefer watching the darker stuff... so that's just my personal preference. But as far as quality goes, they're both fantastic and I really, really hope neither one gets cancelled untimely. I'm actually glad they're so different; hopefully that'll make it easier for them both to last :)

  • VirnaMedina0 Nov 20, 2011

    Both Grimm and OUAT rocks! Now I'm confused :D

  • AndrewZenobi Nov 19, 2011

    To me this is apples and oranges. I like OUAT because it has a deep story, but I feel like it is going to be like Lost in the way that it is going to be one problem after another. Which gets frustrating at times. Where as Grimm is just fighting one monster at a time with a minor overall plot. If I had to choose which one to watch I would have to pick OUAT just because I would want to miss something important.

  • HeatherCarmit Nov 18, 2011

    Another write-in for Supernatural from me. :D

    Between just OUaT and Grimm, the latter feels more my style. I understand what people see in OUaT, and I like the idea of familiar stories coming to life in both our own world and another reality. I just don't find it that enjoyable. I've watched every episode, and yet I can't seem to get into it. Grimm is definitely darker, and I like the premise more than OUaT - a family of monster hunters who pass knowledge from generation to generation is exactly Supernatural enough for me to like it. As far quality, though, I've found the writing to be a bit laughable, and most of the actors seem to have very little chemistry. Still, I feel less bored watching it than watching OUaT. Maybe it is just me and I want something (even a Supernatural re-tread like Grimm) to be on when Supernatural eventually goes away. I just hope the main character gets more likable, right now the only character I like is the wolf.

  • Llamaland Nov 18, 2011

    Well after watching Once Upon a Time, I will stick to my original answer that I like Grimm better.

  • TrueTvWatcher Nov 18, 2011

    I hope people realize that a lot of the characters in Once Upon A Time as well as Disney Movies are based from Grimm's Fairy Tales, perhaps the question should have been, who does Grimm Fairy Tales better?

  • atjp Nov 19, 2011

    Grimm is not doing Grimm fairy tales. Grimm takes "monsters" that appear in Grimm tales and throws them in a stand alone procedural episode.

  • atjp Nov 18, 2011

    After the last episode of Grimm I am now wondering what, if anything, that had to do with fairy tales? I really want to like the show but it just feels too much like it's trying to be Supernatural.

  • TrueTvWatcher Nov 18, 2011

    Maybe you should try reading Grimm's Complete Fairy tales or Fairy tales found from all over the world. Just because the story does not feature familiar Disney characters doesn't mean it is not a Fairy tale.

  • atjp Nov 19, 2011

    Read most of the Grimm tales that appear in the original 3 volumes, thank you. I'm a big fan of tales, mythology, etc....

  • OhioStateHack Nov 18, 2011

    Sure... But if you're going to do a show based on fairytales as your draw to get people to watch shouldn't you be using the fairytale characters that most people know?

  • alfridavella Nov 18, 2011

    No comparing, both series I love to watch :)

  • sourabhshetty Nov 18, 2011

    All the comments in support of Grimm generally talk about how the idea is original, interesting, or cool. They are all correct. But the problem arises in the execution. The lead actor is not charismatic enough, and except Silas Weir Mitchell, none of the cast get a chance to shine. Once Silas' character gets incorporated fully, I think the show will get better, but as of now the show is not that good. Watchable, but not that good. Another problem is that Supernatural deals with something in the same area, and does it better.

    The writing too needs improvement. Silas' character gets a lot of chances for some great comedic banter, but the lines are not right. There's something missing.

    And the fact that it's a procedural will make it less interesting over time. If it manages to have a good season long story arc, that will raise my opinion of it, but it's too soon to tell. Shows like House and Supernatural make each episode worth watching, but others like Bones and NCIS, if you miss an episode here and there, you won't be missing out on much (I love them, but it's true).

    Once Upon A Time's most recent wasn't as good as its first three, but it was still at par with, if not better than, Grimm's latest (which wasn't bad).

    Grimm might get real good when it clicks, but that might take a while to happen, and winter is coming.

    As for now, my vote is firmly in favor of Once Upon A Time.

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