Fairytales are brilliant, and there’s really no reason that us grown-ups shouldn’t enjoy them as much as kids do. After all, most of what are our favourite stories today actually originated as gruesome cautionary yarns that were designed to be told to adults and children alike. This was all before Hollywood made fairytales into the comforting, child-friendly versions that we know they as now.
But no more. Thanks to a set of excellent TV shows, fairytales for grown-ups are back in, and it’s a real delight to revisit familiar characters and settings with a grittier, more realistic vibe. Looking for your next fairytale fix on the small screen? Here are some shows we’d recommend:
Inspired by Jackanory, the classic story show for children, Crackanory has become the stuff of television legend. Each episode features one or two grown-up bedtime tales read out by an actor. The stories are funny and moving and scary and we’re addicted to them like nothing else. We never thought we’d get the opportunity again to listen to someone reading out of a book from an oversized chair, and we were wrong.
Find Crackanory S1 - 4 in On Demand > Box Sets > Comedy
2. Once Upon a Time
This hit show happily and unashamedly embraces its fairytale roots, and that’s no bad thing. Once Upon a Time follows classic fairytale and Disney characters as they interact in the small town of Storybrooke, Maine. But the real-world setting also gives the story an avenue to address lots of interesting themes like parenthood, friendship, and marriage. The magic only makes it all the more interesting.
Once Upon A Time is available to stream now on Netflix
3. Black Mirror
Black Mirror, on the other hand, eerily revives fairytales’ original purpose as cautionary material. Each episode in this brilliant show is a demonstration of how technology might (negatively) impact our society in the near future. It’s dark, it’s clever, and above all, suitably chilling. You’ll never look at your screens the same way again - and that’s the whole point.
Black Mirror is available to stream now on Netflix
One of the golden laws of TV is that police procedurals never get old. The show Grimm throws in a fairytale spin to the premise: Homicide inspector Nick Burkhardt discovers he’s the descendant of a line of Grimms, guardians who are supposed to hold off magical creatures called Wessens from invading the world. It’s fast-paced and full of fun classic characters.
5. Beauty and the Beast
The romance gets a new angle in this TV show, in which Beauty is a tough, no-nonsense New York cop, and the Beast the (handsome) product of a cruel scientific experiment. The two characters’ chemistry is on-point, the intrigue is layered and gripping, and we love the numerous nods to the original fairytale.
6. The OA
If you take a step back and think about it, The OA is sort of a modern version of Sleeping Beauty. But we won’t give away any more, because this addictive and entrancing show is best watched without any prior expectations. Just take our word for it that you’ll be totally and utterly hooked.
The OA is available to stream now on Netflix
If you miss classic fantasy, look no further: Yonderland’s the show for you. The team behind Horrible Histories devised this delectably absurd yarn, in which Debbie, stay-at-home mum becomes the Yonderland ‘chosen one’ and travels to the magical land via her kitchen closet to sort out its problems. It’s the silliest and funniest show we’ve seen in a while- and it’s got Stephen Fry.
Find Yonderland in On Demand > Box Sets > Comedy
10. Sleepy Hollow
American history meets fairytale monsters in Sleepy Hollow, a show that’s all about Ichabod Crane, an American Revolutionary who wakes up in the present day to defend a small town from invading evil forces. It’s got the best historical jokes ever, and the cast is beautifully dedicated to its fans.