If You Don’t Come Back
We Were Love
I’m Going To Survive
I’m Not That Girl
We Always Lived Together – | Review Score – 3/5
There’s nothing quite like a good fairytale. There’s a reason why so many stand the test of time – and why they’re so rife for satire, seen through films like Shrek. Naturally, the musical side of those films have recently seen a slew of musicals in their own right make it back into mainstream appeal. This is typified through the success (or not) of movies like In The Heights, La La Land and *shudders* Cats.
Last year Apple dabbled into bringing this to the small screen with their charmingly simple effort, Schmigadoon! While it wasn’t perfect, the show managed to tell a simple story in a relatively compelling way, with plenty of singing, dancing and tomfoolery.
Once Upon a Time… Happily Never After then takes that formula and adds a gloss of Spanish soap opera over the top, to mixed effect.
The story is relatively straightforward and revolves around a curse placed on a small town. A witch makes it so no one in this small village can fall in love again.
At the center of this conflict lie Princess Soledad and a fisherman by the name of Diego, who are tragically separated and must reunite to break that curse. This “spell of the blue dragon” can only be broken by freeing the dragon during a pink moon and Princess Soledad showcasing an act of true love.
Years pass and with Diego and Soledad both dying, it falls to their reincarnated forms to try and break the spell once and for all. However, two tourists arrive in town and threaten to upend everything and see this plan come tumbling down. Will true love prevail?
The plot is pretty barebones in truth and the story slaps numerous different musical numbers across the run-time to pad things out. While these do help to show off the musical prowess of the show – not to mention the impressive lighting effects – Happily Never After sometimes sacrifices this for a more interesting story.
To be fair, that may be doing the show a disservice because if you’re in the mood for light, fluffy entertainment that doesn’t require you to think too much, then you’ll find that in abundance here. The supporting characters do well in their roles, there’s a nice blend of humour and romance, and there’s a couple of well-placed and raunchy jokes throughout.
Given this show leans hard into its soap opera vibes, expect something that falls tonally between Jane the Virgin and Schmigadoon; a humorous romcom that’s as predictable as it is enjoyable. This is certainly not going to win any awards and the cheap set design and rustic feel will undoubtedly put many people off from sticking with this to the end.
There is a little twist right near the end but honestly, it feels more like a cop-out rather than something that was orchestrated and foreshadowed earlier in the series. It’s a minor gripe but definitely something that stands out, despite how well it’ll catch you off-guard.
Despite that though, if you’re in the mood for a soapy guilty pleasure with plenty of drama, romance and fairytale nods, you’ll likely have a good time with Happily Never After. Just don’t go in expecting anything groundbreaking.
Verdict - 5.5/10