Acts of true love are everywhere in our fiction. In many of these narratives, performing an act of true love—such as a kiss—has the magical ability to save someone from certain death brought about by a curse. In many older Disney films and fairy tale stories, true love is almost always portrayed as romantic. Recently, though, we’ve gotten a few new interpretations on the mythos. In the new Sleeping Beauty movie, Maleficent, a platonic kiss Maleficent gives Aurora saves her life. And in Once Upon A Time, Emma saves her son Henry with a motherly kiss on his forehead. Then there’s Frozen, which, between the sisters Anna and Elsa, gives us yet another interpretation of true love, one that I like far more.
Okay, look, I really don’t have a ton of problems with Once Upon A Time. Do I think the plot needs to get a hold of itself after the tangled mess that was the lead-up to the S2 finale? Yes. But in general, it’s a pretty great show and it’s leagues ahead of a lot of shows in that it has a variety of very different female characters with a variety of personality types, interests, and skills.
So what’s my beef? Well, here’s the thing. What legitimately always saves the day in Storybrooke? Say it with me: true love—especially true love’s kiss. Whether it’s platonic and familial or romantic, whether it’s Emma’s love for her son or Snow’s love for Charming, the power of true love truly seems to conquer all when it comes to our misplaced fairytale heroes. And that’s all well and good, but something’s missing. In a storyline that literally revolves around the power of true love, the portrayal of true love remains depressingly heterosexual.