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Ever After High: Fairy Tale High School
Fairy Tales have been around for a very long time. As a result, many interpretations have come that told familiar stories in many different ways. Some made villains into misunderstood victims. Some made the good guys seem more unlikable compared to other characters. Sometimes the setting was completely different compared to the original story. As a way to appeal to young girls, Mattel made a fashion doll franchise based on fairy tales. Referred to as Ever After High, this toy and web series told the story of the teenaged offspring of famous fairy tale characters in the Fairytale World. Interestingly enough, these characters also shared certain quirks that were identical to their predecessors. Unfortunately, other than sharing the traits of their predecessors, the students also shared in the fates the affected their predecessors. For example, the teenaged offspring of Sleeping Beauty would have the fate of falling asleep for a very long time due to magic. As a result, the students of Ever After High were divided between Royals and Rebels. Royals were the characters who wanted to follow the fates of their parents and following the story completely, whereas the Rebels wanted to defy their predecessor's story because the fate may sound depressing in hindsight. For the age group that Ever After High was made to appeal to, this story was able to appeal to those who questioned the direction that their life was taking them. In addition, the mini-episodes on the Internet provided interesting examples with the animated characters.
As stated, the characters of Ever After High were the offspring of classic fairy tale characters. One of the characters in Ever After High was Ashlynn Ella. She was the offspring of the fairy tale Cinderella, the main protagonist of the story Cinderella. And since a magic slipper was an important part to the story of Cinderella, Ashlynn's character also had shoes as a part of her story. So much so that she even owned and ran her own shoe store despite still being a student at Ever After High. In addition, she also showed signs of be classified as a Rebel in the context of Ever After High in that she also was in a relationship with Hunter Huntsman, the offspring of the Huntsman from Little Red Riding Hood. One episode that highlighted both aspects to Ashlynn Ella's character was The Shoe Must Go On. Here the episode started out with Ashlynn and Hunter hanging out in the shoe store Ashlynn owned. Or they could have, but Ashlynn's friends were coming over to help set up some shoes for a sale, so Hunter had to leave. Unfortunately, it was implied that Ashlynn's friends were not that much help, so when it was almost time for the store to open, Ashlynn started panicking. Fortunately, Hunter was able to come to the rescue with some help from some woodland creature. And while the help was somewhat random in nature, Hunter did manage to set up the store and prevented Ashlynn from facing angry show shoppers.
In most High School stories there were characters who usually tried to break away from certain norms that were provided in cliques. Ever After High kind of puts a more serious interpretation on that idea. As the offspring of fairy tale characters, most of the students in Ever After High were expected to share in the same fates as their predecessors. That meant that in the case of character who were the offspring of the villains in fairy tales, they would experience the same bad endings as their villainous parents. Naturally, some of these offspring decided that they would try to change their fate, even if others made it very clear that changing the way their story should go was a potentially bad idea. On good example was Raven Queen, the daughter of the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. While being the daughter of one of the bad guys in a fairy tale meant that everybody expected Raven to turn out like her mother, Raven was actually a nice person. So in the episode Stark Raven Mad, certain characters decided to point out that at Ever After High, Raven was supposed to be a bad person. Eventually, the constant nagging got to the point where Raven had to use some magic to get everybody to be quiet. And this episode ended with Raven inadvertently turning one of the people who wanted her to be evil into a chicken, which everybody else but her in this episode wanted to see, ironically.
While the viewer might side with Raven when it came to changing one's fate, Ever After High did present a justifiable reason for some characters to want to keep their lives similar to their predecessors. Mostly because said characters were based on predecessors who received legitimately happy endings. Take Apple White, for example. As the daughter of Snow White from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Apple would automatically receive the happy ending that her mother received in similar circumstances. Of course, if Raven Queen, the future Evil Queen who would serve as the queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, had her way, Apple White's happy ending may cease to exist. As a result, the dynamic between the two was Apple continuously trying to get Raven to be bad, but Raven gently reminding her that she did not wish to follow in the footsteps of her mother. While this has not resulted in any overt conflicts of interests, Apple did have a habit of thinking that Raven was trying to poison her. Which was a good thing in Apple's perspective. One good example was in the episode Apple's Birthday Bake-Off, where Apple was informed by Raven that she would be making a cake for her. While Raven made it perfectly clear that she would not try to poison Apple on her birthday, Apple was completely sure that Raven would try to poison her. And in a roundabout way, Apple's friends did try to poison some magical enchantments in Raven's cake. Of course, one of the friends did get some comeuppance for the lie.
Mattel has made some interesting toys over the years. For example, Monster High was a brand of dolls that depicted the offspring of classical monsters in a high school setting. Ever After High used the same idea by depicting the offspring of classical fairy tale characters in a high school setting, but added more serious themes in the whimsical setting. First and foremost was the issue of upholding one's legacy. While Monster High basically had the high school portrayed as a place where monsters could let go of certain stereotypes and assumptions based on their predecessors, Ever After High had its high school portrayed as a place where the students had to learn to be exactly like their fairy tale predecessors. While there were characters who protested this need to uphold one's legacy, Ever After High did give some points as to why upholding one's legacy was not entirely bad.