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I personally don't like it, because I think that it takes away from the drama and excitement of shipping various different couples and possibilities for relationships that characters could have, but what do you think? "True Love", yay or nay?

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In real life... no. Not... exactly.

In TV... it depends on many factors:
  • Is it part of the fundamental premise of the show? In the case of most shows, the answer is "No." In the case of OUAT, the answer is "Yes." The fundamental premise of this show involves Disney fairy tales and Disney princesses. True Love comes with the territory. :)
  • Do the characters/actors have actual onscreen chemistry, or can they at least fake it convincingly? If not, then the writers should adapt, not try to force their ship on the viewers, regardless of a notable lack of chemistry that is right in front of our faces. (still suffering uncomfortable memories of Jack and Sam in Stargate: SG1)
  • Can we see why they are in love? Not just chemistry... for it to be True Love, there does have to be chemistry, but there also has to be a lot more than that. Even if we don't necessarily agree with the characters all the time, it's important for us to at least understand why they love each other.
  • On a related note, are the characters fully fleshed out in their own right? Do they have dimensions? Do the other characters respond to them realistically, as individuals, or are they the center of the universe (unrealistically)? If it's the latter, then they're just Mary Sue/Gary Stu in a OTP. (Note: one of my biggest definitions of a Mary Sue is simply this: Mary Sue is the center of the universe. Everybody loves Mary Sue, to the point where their lives revolve around her, to an unrealistic degree. The only people who don't absolutely love Mary Sue are villains and meanies that we're supposed to hate. OTP's are often written with Mary Sue's and Gary Stu's, and that's why I needed to bring this up, because Mary Sue and Gary Stu is never a good thing.)
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Hm, true love doesn't necessarily have to be defined as 'forever', 'infallible' and 'romantic.' i.e. Emma's kiss for Henry. But if romantic, it seems it requires mutual feelings from the couple at the time of 'true love's kiss' to break the spell. i.e. Gold's kiss for Belle when she was Lacey was null. So, it can be used as a plot device to reveal current emotion (much like Jack Sparrow's compass of desire), so I find it an interesting premise.
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When dealing with Disney Princesses, true love has to be infallible, romantic and forever, otherwise is not true love.

I understand the problem with this concept is that the writers can't play the dating game, but to toy around with it destroys the premise of true love as source or magic same as the "adoption = day care" concept destroyed realistic drama.
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Let's get existential and try to define "true"- if equated with "pure", then the parent-child relationship is most likely to get to the transcendent level (as evidenced by Emma's kiss saving Henry's life). It would also account for the strength of the Snow/ Charming bond, as they are both so singleminded about their relationship. Belle's love for Rumplestiltskin is similarly obsessive, but his feelings for her are more conflicted; more like an average relationship. (The amount of baggage that man brings to a relationship would swamp anyone less blithely optimistic than Belle, I think...) My personal theory is that true love is easier to tap into in the Enchanted Forest, but it's the only magic accessible to everyone in any world.
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Problem is, when dealing with classic fairytales, parental love is distinctively different than true love: Geppetto and Pinocchio's love was clearly different than Prince Charming and Snow White's love, Hansel and Gretel's father loved them in a completely different way that Beauty loved the Beast.

The stepmother is a such an important figure because ever since Cinderella's Dad, fairytale fathers were looking for something the love of his daughters & sons could never fulfill.
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Parents in fairytales, especially mothers, frequently do make sacrifices for their children- a mother's gift may have magical properties, or a flower from a mother's grave may whisper good advice to the young heroine. (Lily Potter is a recent example of this tradition.)
Many women died young, often in childbirth; and a man who had young children frequently remarried to have a caretaker for house and family, rather than for True Love. Our ancestors were more practical (or mercenary, take your pick) than we give them credit for!
Stepmothers (and mothers-in-law, for that matter) seem in many fairy tales to be destructive toward the young heroine- much like the conflict between teen girls and their mothers, but distanced by not being blood relatives. So a stepmother can knowingly send the young girl off into danger, which starts her adventures (and generally ends with the girl finding True Love).
The stories don't center on the relationship between Dad and his new wife, except in the more modern retellings- it's the mechanism to start the girl off on her predestined journey, and we don't know (or care) why it happens.
Maybe the stepmother wants Dad all to herself, or covets the inheritance for her own kids, or just can't stand the omnipresent reminder of the first wife- the details vary with the version. But there's an echo of Mother Kali- Creator and Destroyer both.
One of the interesting things about this show for me is seeing how classic archetypes are reimagined or inverted; standing familiar stories on their heads gives us a chance to examine our unspoken assumptions.
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Then again, fairytales never center on the deceased mother; we do not if Hansel & Gretel's dad loved their mom, or Cinderella's Dad was the unwilling party in an arranged marriage, or if Geppetto was an unhappy marriage (and thus why he had to build a son).

It's not always about a girl either: Aladdin, the Frog Prince and the Beast set on a journey of their own to find unconditional love that probably never received from their mothers (or their curse would've been broken).

Pinocchio and Peter Pan didn't even have a mother, nor they felt the need for one in the course of their story, Rumpelstiltskin never mentions a mother, neither does the hunstmen, the Kings nor the inteded the girls are to marry by the end of the story.
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True- I guess so many of the princesses get awarded like good conduct medals at the end of the guys' quests that I kind of gravitate towards the stories with active heroines.
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I quite like the concept, and especially considering its endless possibilities. I don't think it completely takes away the drama and excitement, in fact it's a catalyst for it. The fact that Regina's true love was taken away makes a big problem for the rest of the characters. It's chaos and order in itself. And the writers aren't actually very concrete in defining what "true love" is and don't even get me STARTED on who might be Emma's true love. Haha, What's actually strange is that the they have been straying or completely flat out avoiding the 'soulmate' implications of it which is something that most, if not all people, usually associate with true love. What's absolutely brilliant about their use of the word 'true love' is that it's not the same as a soulmate...it's in a complete league of its own, which means its even less romanticized in a twisted up way. Implying that true love is actually associated with a person's free will...not by fate. Most of the characters have actually had relationships/affairs before they had/were reunited with their true love (e.g. Snow White's one night stand with Dr. Whale/Frankenstein, Emma/All the things, and Gold with Cora). This was not governed by true love, but by their own choice. The best example I could use would be Emma. Yes, Neal may/may not be Emma's true love, but that doesn't make what they had any less real (they had HENRY for goodness sake). He could still be her true love...or not. That's what I think the writers are trying to get at through the character of Emma, 'true love' doesn't necessarily mean one concrete thing. It's more linked to their ending, which is hopefully, the happily ever after. "Happiness", if you will. And if true love will actually make two people happy in the end, why not? So...yay!
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Okay...I am going to be all schmaltzy here...I kind of do think there is a possibility that there are souls that meet that perhaps met in a previous life or perhaps met in wherever souls were before and every once in a while get put on earth at the same time and they can possibly find each other. I don't think they always have to be romantic pairings in whatever forms the souls take, but that there are two people who get and love each other on a very basic level.

But, you know, that is just my thought on the issue....on a show like this, well, you have to factor in magic. As a cure for a curse, it sort of makes sense to me since a curse is something that is corrupt and puts nature out of balance, something that is pure is the thing to cure it. I would suggest that the way that is set up, it likely cures any, well, whatever is the opposite of a curse, something light magic has set up that is contrary to nature. What OUAT seems to more of set up is that innocence is likely the thing that can be the ultimate force against evil, its why they are so concerned about Snow's darkness, and it is why Emma even though she has been hurt a lot, she has closed her heart so much that it is protected.
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For the context of a show like OUaT, I think you have to buy into the True Love concept. And I think for a show like this it can still work. The only couples that we really have concrete proof that they have found their True Love are Snow/Charming and Rumple/Belle. Other than that we have people that believe they've been in love or had their true love but we don't know for sure one way or the other. So it does allow you to still play with that in what could be an interesting way.
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I guess the show fails to make its audience complicit in the expectations of the characters, hence why the true love concept doesn't seem to work quite like it should.
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