ABC's "Once Upon a Time" has quickly established itself as one of the premier shows on television, as indicated by the most recent release of Nielsen ratings. The question therefore becomes: what makes the show so popular and why do people enjoy watching it? The answer to that, it seems, can be defined in three words: Regina, Emma, and Henry.
Without a doubt, the Evil Queen/Regina is everything a Disney villain should be and more. While it would have been easy to make her into a simply one-sided villain with no back story, "Once Upon a Time" fills in her story, allowing us to get a privileged understanding of what drives her, what makes her hate Snow White so much. Not that this makes her any less evil, of course, but there is definitely something pleasurable about coming to understand someone who is the opposite of what we stand for. As a result, Regina continues to be one of the most captivating characters in the series.
Of course, the series wouldn't be what it is without the presence of Emma who, merely by virtue of her presence, has changed the way of the town of Storybrooke irrevocably. With her take-no-prisoners attitude and her willingness to stand up for herself, Emma has already shown that she is one of the most dynamic and empowered female characters to hit TV screens in quite some time. And the best part? She's unapologetic about it. She has a mind of her own, is not afraid to tell people what she thinks, and is not afraid to acknowledge her own empowered nature.
Finally, we come to the ever-adorable Henry. While it would have been easy for the makers of the show to simply write him as your standard stock child character, what we have instead is a very nuanced and well-drawn character that is adorable in the bargain. Though it's sometimes easy to overlook him for his mother Emma, it's important to recognize just how important Henry is for the narrative of the show and just how much we would miss him if he were gone.
Obviously, there are a lot of great things about "Once Upon a Time," but the characters are what keep the show moving forward. With such fascinating, rich, and complex men and women to drive the show forward, how can you not enjoy it? And the clever spin on fairy tales? That's the icing on the cake.