Dark Stories Very Loosely Inspired by Fairytales
Being the fairytale fan I am, I was intrigued when I heard about Kevin Williamson’s Tell Me a Story. It was being advertised as a dark and twisted modern take on fairytales. Since it was on CBS All Access and I have resisted streaming services (at least so far), I didn’t sit down and watch it until The CW picked it up this fall. It took me a while to get into season 1, but by the end I was enjoying it.
The season sends us to New York City for three different stories extremely loosely connected to each other. In the first, Jordan Evans (James Wolk) and his new fiancée Beth Miller (Spencer Grammer) go ring shopping and find themselves caught up in a robbery by three robbers wearing pig masks. Shades of three little pigs anyone?
Next, we get the story of Tim Powell (Sam Jaeger) who has taken a job in New York City in hopes of starting over with his daughter Kayla (Danielle Campbell). They’ve moved in with his mother, Colleen (Kim Cattrall). Kayla makes some poor choices, including sneaking into a bar and hooking up with a cute guy she meets there (Billy Magnussen). Imagine her surprise when she finds out this guy is her new long-term substitute teacher. Trying to figure out the fairytale still? It might help if I mention a red cape shows up a few times.
Finally, there’s the story of siblings Gabe and Hannah Perez (Davi Santos and Dania Ramirez). When Gabe gets into trouble for an accidental death after partying with a stranger, neither realize just how much danger they are in. This was the story that took me the longest to figure out. However, I did eventually follow the bread crumbs to find the sweet sibling related fairytale they were riffing on here.
As you can see, stories are very much takes on the classic tales and not modern retellings of them. You can recognize the touchstones, but you are going to be surprised by the twists and turns the stories take.
It also isn’t always apparent how these three stories are tied together. There are some superficial tie ins early, but they do come together at the end. In fact, I was actually very surprised at how they tied together.
If you are thinking “Fairytales, this must be a cute, light show,” please read this next paragraph carefully. These are dark tales with plenty of violence. Since I watched this on The CW, I’m sure that the violence was toned down, but it was still very violent. And there was near nudity that might have been full blown nudity when originally shown on CBS All Access. This show is for adults.
Another word of warning – if you are sick of politics right now, know that politics comes up in the first episode or two. Honestly, they could have done without their self-important lectures early on. However, once the story did get going, they dropped that element of the show.
It took me a bit to get into the story. For one thing, I spent too much time trying to figure out how these wildly different tales were going to connect. Second, the characters do some pretty stupid things early on. I mean extremely stupid, bordering on self-destructive. I found it hard for root for them as a result.
But I kept on. After all, there isn’t much new on TV this fall. And I eventually found myself getting hooked on the story. By the half way point, I was on board. Of course, it was then that some of the characters were trying to stop the slide their early actions had started, and I wanted to see how things would turn out. Since there are only 10 episodes in the season, there wasn’t that big a time commitment before I was hooked.
And none of this is the fault of the actors. The story puts them all through their paces, and I believed everything I saw on screen.
Again, I am going to point out that this is dark and twisted stuff. Kevin Williamson is famous for a few projects, one of them being Scream. I definitely felt that in some of the twists the story took. Of course, being a fan of the slasher franchise, I am not complaining about those elements.
The show was designed as an anthology series, so these 10 episodes wrap up the story. Season two is all new characters and stories with only a couple of the season 1 cast coming back to take on a new characters.
I’d been curious enough about Tell Me a Story that I’m glad I watched the show and stuck with it. Overall, I had a mixed reaction, but I did come back for season 2. If you are curious, you should check out season 1, but otherwise, you can skip it.