- freely available
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 41; doi:10.3390/h5020041
2. “Little Red Riding Hood” (ATU 333)
3. Blending the Fairy Tale to Queer It
4. Reading the Werewolf as a Code for Queerness
Conflicts of Interest
Refers to the television show Once Upon a Time
- Claudia Schwabe. “Getting Real with Fairy Tales: Magical Realism in Grimm and Once Upon a Time.” In Channeling Wonder: Fairy Tales on Television. Edited by Pauline Greenhill and Jill Terry Rudy. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2014, pp. 294–315. [Google Scholar]
- Stacy Lambe. “Why Lost Fans Should Watch Once Upon a Time.” VH1. Available online: http://www.vh1.com/news/88358/once-upon-a-time-lost-similarities/ (accessed on 26 February 2016).
- Pauline Greenhill, and Steven Kohm. “Criminal Beasts and Swan Girls: The Red Riding Trilogy and Little Red Riding Hood on Television.” In Channeling Wonder: Fairy Tales on Television. Edited by Pauline Greenhill and Jill Terry Rudy. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2014, pp. 189–209. [Google Scholar]
- Pauline Greenhill, and Steven Kohm. “Hoodwinked! and Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade: Animated ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ Films and the Rashômon Effect.” Marvels and Tales 27 (2013): 89–108. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- “Red-Handed I, 15.” Once Upon a Time, Directed by Ron Underwood. Written by Jane Espenson. Disney, ABC Television Group, 11 March 2012.
- Andrew J. Friedenthal. “The Lost Sister: Lesbian Eroticism and Female Empowerment in ‘Snow White and Rose Red.’.” In Transgressive Tales: Queering the Grimms. Edited by Kay Turner and Pauline Greenhill. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2012, pp. 161–78. [Google Scholar]
- Joan N. Radner, and Susan S. Lanser. “Strategies of Coding in Women’s Cultures.” In Feminist Messages: Coding in Women’s Folk Culture. Edited by Joan N. Radner. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993, pp. 1–29. [Google Scholar]
- Kay Turner, and Pauline Greenhill. “Once Upon a Queer Time.” In Transgressive Tales: Queering the Grimms. Edited by Kay Turner and Pauline Greenhill. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2012, pp. 1–24. [Google Scholar]
- Noreen Giffney, and Myra J. Hird. “Introduction: Queering the Non/Human.” In Queering the Non/Human. Edited by Noreen Giffney and Myra J. Hird. Hampshire: Ashgate, 2008, pp. 1–16. [Google Scholar]
- Alexander Doty. Flaming Classics: Queering the Film Canon. New York: Routledge, 2000. [Google Scholar]
- Pamela Demory, and Christopher Pullen. “Introduction.” In Queer Love in Film and Television: Critical Essays. Edited by Pamela Demory and Christopher Pullen. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, pp. 1–9. [Google Scholar]
- James R. Keller. Queer (Un)Friendly Film and Television. Jefferson: McFarland, 2002. [Google Scholar]
- Pamela Demory, and Christopher Pullen, eds. Queer Love in Film and Television: Critical Essays. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
- Rebecca Beirne. Televising Queer Women: A Reader. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. [Google Scholar]
- Melanie E. S. Kohnen. Queer Representation, Visibility, and Race in American Film and Television: Screening the Closet. New York: Routledge, 2016. [Google Scholar]
- Translated by Jack Zipes. “Little Red Cap.” In The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, 3rd ed. Jack Zipes, ed. New York: Bantam Books, 2002, pp. 93–96.
- Alan Dundes. “Interpreting ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ Psychoanalytically.” In Little Red Riding Hood: A Case Book. Edited by Alan Dundes. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989, pp. 192–236. [Google Scholar]
- Jack Zipes, ed. The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood. New York: Routledge, 1993.
- Rita Ghesquiere. “Little Red Riding Hood Where Are You Going? ” In Toplore: Stories and Songs. Edited by Paul Catteeuv, Marc Jacobs, Sigrid Rieuwerts, Eddy Tielemans and Katrien Van Effelterre. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, 2006, pp. 84–99. [Google Scholar]
- Jennifer Orme. “A Wolf’s Queer Invitation: David Kaplan’s Little Red Riding Hood and Queer Possibility.” Marvels and Tales 29 (2015): 87–109. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- The Company of Wolves, Directed by Neil Jordan. Performed by Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury, Stephen Rea and David Warner. ITC, Cannon, 1984.
- Tracy Phillips. “Once Upon a Time’s Meghan Ory on Her ‘Big Bad’ Twist.” Xfinity. Available online: http://my.xfinity.com/blogs/tv/2012/03/18/once-upon-a-times-meghan-ory-on-her-big-bad-twist/ (accessed on 26 February 2016).
- Amy Ratcliffe. “Once Upon a Time: ‘Red-Handed’ Review.” IGN. Available online: http://www.ign.com/articles/2012/03/12/once-upon-a-time-red-handed-review (accessed on 26 February 2016).
- Phillip A. Bernhardt-House. “The Werewolf as Queer, the Queer as Werewolf, and Queer Werewolves.” In Queering the Non/Human. Edited by Noreen Giffney and Myra J. Hird. Hampshire: Ashgate, 2008, pp. 159–83. [Google Scholar]
- Jack Zipes. “’Little Red Riding Hood’ as Male Creation and Projection.” In Little Red Riding Hood: A Case Book. Edited by Alan Dundes. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989, pp. 121–27. [Google Scholar]
- Cristina Bacchilega. “Fairy-tale Adaptations and Economies of Desire.” In The Cambridge Companion to Fairy Tales. Edited by Maria Tatar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015, pp. 79–96. [Google Scholar]
- Translated by Jack Zipes. “Snow White and Rose Red.” In The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, 3rd ed. Jack Zipes, ed. New York: Bantam Books, 2002, pp. 475–80.
- Marijana Hameršak. “A Never Ending Story? Permutations of ‘Snow White and Rose Red’ Narrative and Its Research across Time and Space.” Narodna Umjetnost: Croatian Journal of Ethnology and Folklore Research 48 (2011): 147–60. [Google Scholar]
- Marjorie Garber. Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety. New York: Routledge, 2011. [Google Scholar]
- Bill Willingham. Fables. Comic series; New York: DC Comics, 2002–2015. [Google Scholar]
- Francesca Lia Block. “Rose.” In The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold. New York: Harper Collins, 2001. [Google Scholar]
- Harry M. Benshoff. Monsters in the Closet: Homosexuality and the Horror Film. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997. [Google Scholar]
- “Ruby Slippers V, 18.” Once Upon a Time, Directed by Eriq La Salle. Written by Bill Wolkoff and Andrew Chambliss. Disney, ABC Television Group, 17 April 2016.
- Translated by Jack Zipes. “Snow White.” In The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, 3rd ed. Jack Zipes, ed. New York: Bantam Books, 2002, pp. 181–88.
- “Child of the Moon II, 7.” Once Upon a Time, Directed by Anthony Hemingway. Written by Ian B. Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss. Disney, ABC Television Group, 11 November 2012.
- Rebecca Hay, and Christa Baxter. “Happily Never After: The Commodification and Critique of Fairy Tale in ABC’s Once Upon a Time.” In Channeling Wonder: Fairy Tales on Television. Edited by Pauline Greenhill and Jill Terry Rudy. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2014, pp. 316–35. [Google Scholar]
- Mulan, Directed by Tony Bancroft, and Barry Cook. Performed by Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy and B. D. Wong. Walt Disney Pictures, 1998.
- “Broken II, 1.” Once Upon a Time, Directed by Ralph Hemecker. Written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. Disney, ABC Television Group, 30 September 2012.
- “Quite a Common Fairy III, 3.” Once Upon a Time, Directed by Alex Zakrzewksi. Written by Jane Espenson. Disney, ABC Television Group, 13 October 2013.
- Vlada Gelman. “Once Upon a Time EPs: Same-Sex Romance in the Works for Season 5.” TVLine. Available online: http://tvline.com/2015/09/18/once-upon-a-time-lgbt-lesbian-storyline-season-5/ (accessed on 13 February 2016).
- “The Bear King V, IX.” Once Upon a Time, Directed by Geofrey Hildrew. Written by Andrew Chambliss. Disney, ABC Television Group, 15 November 2015.
- Samantha Stauf. “The Problem with the Red and Dorothy Love Story on Once Upon a Time.” SheKnows. Available online: http://www.sheknows.com/entertainment/articles/1120653/the-problem-with-the-red-and-dorothy-love-story (accessed on 3 June 2016).
- Jennifer Still. “Why Ruby & Dorothy’s Relationship on Once Upon a Time Missed the Mark.” Bustle. Available online: http://www.bustle.com/articles/155329-why-ruby-dorothys-relationship-on-once-upon-a-time-missed-the-mark (accessed on 3 June 2016).
- Gina Carbone. “Once Upon a Time Fans Have Strong Feelings About That LGBT Storyline.” Moviefone. Available online: http://www.moviefone.com/2016/04/18/once-upon-a-time-fans-strong-feelings-lgbt-storyline/ (accessed on 3 June 2016).
- Facebook. “Once Upon a Time.” Available online: https://www.facebook.com/OnceABC/ (accessed on 3 June 2016).
- 1Claudia Schwabe describes this set up as a “rapprochement of the dichotomy between the familiar, visible, nonmagical, ordinary, and rational (the everyday) and the unfamiliar, invisible, magical, extraordinary, and nonrational (the magical)”, arguing that the show “synthesize[s] quotidian reality with supernatural/magical reality, forming a new reality with magical influences” (, p. 295).
- 2This structure is very similar to another television show, Lost (2004–2010), for which OUAT series creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis worked as writers and producers. OUAT frequently features “Easter eggs” evoking Lost that are meant to serve as insider winks for fans of both series .
- 3While Red transforming into a wolf herself is not frequently seen in either oral or written versions of the traditional fairy tale, there are several other films and television programs that do make use of this idea. See the work of Pauline Greenhill and Steven Kohm, particularly “Criminal Beasts and Swan Girls: The Red Riding Trilogy and Little Red Riding Hood on Television” in Channeling Wonder: Fairy Tales on Television  and “Hoodwinked! and Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade: Animated “Little Red Riding Hood” Films and the Rashômon Effect” in the journal Marvels & Tales, for several key examples .
- 4All quotations and descriptions are from season one, episode 15 unless otherwise noted.
- 5I use the term “coded”/“coding” as a way of marking “covert expressions of disturbing or subversive ideas” (, p. vii)—and queerness is, at least to corporations like Disney, still quite subversive. My use of this term is indebted to the introduction to Feminist Messages: Coding in Women’s Folk Culture by Joan N. Radner and Susan S. Lanser entitled “Strategies of Coding in Women’s Cultures” . Though Radner and Lanser’s particular essay focuses on women exclusively, the strategies of coding discussed may be used by anyone facing oppression “to refuse, subvert, or transform conventional expectations” (, p. 23). In calling lycanthropy a code for queerness, I am suggesting the use of the coding strategy they identify as “indirection” (, pp. 16–19).
- 7As ABC is owned by the Disney Corporation, the majority of the fairy tale stories adapted on OUAT at least begin with the version of the tale presented in a major Disney film. Neither ATU 333 nor ATU 426 have been adapted into full length Disney motion pictures, though the corporation has produced shorts based on ATU 333. OUAT does, however, incorporate fairy tales beyond those that have been made into major animated Disney films—aside from the two discussed in this article, OUAT also adapts, for example, the stories of “Rumpelstiltskin” (ATU 500) and “Hansel and Gretel” (ATU 327a). All of the non-Disney fairy-tale adaptations seem to have markers suggesting retellings that began with the Grimms’ Kinder- und Hausmärchen as their starting point.
- 8The other major contender is the 1984 film The Company of Wolves based on Angela Carter’s short stories .
- 9Zipes would argue that Red has always been “individualistic and perhaps nonconformist”, even having “certain potential qualities which could convert her into a witch or heretic” (, p. 122). He further states that Red “becomes at one with the wolf” when she is eaten, an act that realizes “her ‘natural’ potential to become a witch” (, p. 124). Though OUAT does not follow this reading exactly, Red’s werewolf nature certainly qualifies her as both supernatural and “one” with the wolf.
- 10This, of course, additionally alludes to the 1936 Russian musical composition and story of “Peter and the Wolf” by Sergei Prokofiev.
- 11The “Snow White” in “Snow White and Rose Red” is not traditionally the same “Snow White” of the other fairy tale with that title. The majority of the story of the Snow White depicted on OUAT is modeled after the other story (and, of course, the Disney version of that), but the show seems to have chosen to conflate the two characters into one in its particular fairy-tale universe.
- 12Friedenthal argues that the relative obscurity of the tale “may reflect centuries-old cultural taboos against both lesbianism and free expression of female sexuality” (, p. 163). It is also worth noting, as Friedenthal does later in his chapter, that the cultural taboo of incest is also in play in this story (, p. 166).
- 13For an in-depth discussion of this idea, see the concluding chapter of Marjorie Garber’s Vested Interests: Cross-dressing and Cultural Anxiety .
- 14Even the term used by Red’s village for when the wolf prowls, “Wolf’s Time”, suggests “Moon Time”, a phrase often used for the period when a woman is menstruating.
- 15Doty makes a similar argument in his bisexual analysis of the 1953 film Gentleman Prefer Blondes (, pp. 131–53).
- 16The depiction of Snow and Red in OUAT might also put viewers in mind of what is perhaps the most popular adaptation of “Snow White and Rose Red”, the one featured in Bill Willingham’s Fables series . Willingham’s story draws strongly on the differences between the two girls and even, as Friedenthal notes, hints at incestuous lesbianism between them (, pp. 175–76, 178, n. 7). Bacchilega adds that other adaptations also “underscore Snow White and Rose Red’s intimate bond”, such as Francesca Lia Block’s short story “Rose” (2000) (; , p. 90).
- 17And, indeed, it is important to note that Ruby does show further sexual interest in men in Storybrooke in the first several seasons of the show. It is not until her same-sex relationship in season five that her sexuality is confirmed.
- 18One should also note that this reading is “working within conventional binaries” that “understand [bisexuality] as a movement between, or a combination of, heterosexuality and homosexuality and the straight and lesbian or gay identities that are usually attached to these desires and practices”—other understandings of bisexuality include those who “find their bisexuality works itself out as a desire for both the same sex and the opposite sex in tandem with a social or political identification with either gayness, lesbianism, or straightness” and those who “see it as having desires for both the same sex and the opposite sex within bisexual identities that don’t reference straight or lesbian or gay ones, but may reference less binarily defined queer or non-straight identities” (, p. 131).
- 19Melanie E. S. Kohnen argues that mainstream media tends to form a “limited and limiting conceptualization of a queer visibility structured around white gay and lesbian characters in committed relationships [that] has become the embodiment of progressive, LGBT media representations” (, p. i). In choosing to develop the show’s first same-sex romance between two white characters (as opposed to a white character and an Asian character, a union that seemed almost inevitable), OUAT seems to be perpetuating—consciously or not—this significant issue, a fact that problematically underscores the progressive move of featuring a same-sex romance in the first place. The relationship was met by other criticism from the queer community as well, including the fact that Dorothy and Red are not main characters (and thus only appear infrequently on the show) and that their “true love” was developed seemingly half-heartedy over the span of only one episode, lending it an air of tokenism—see [42,43,44] for more on these issues. Other fans were predictably not happy with the show depicting a queer relationship at all, as is evident from the string of angry comments on the show’s Facebook page following the airing of the episode in question . All of this said, the overall reaction to the relationship from fans seems to be largely positive.
© 2016 by the author; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).