June 3, 2008

Freaky Friday Retelling

I recently watched an episode of 8 Simple Rules. This episode was a retelling of the Freaky Friday story (where mother and mom mysteriously switch bodies), which I would probably classify as a fairytale. This website talks a little bit about the episode: In this episode, Cate (the mom) tells Bridget (the oldest daughter) that she’s not allowed to back down from her promise to go to the school dance with a dorky guy who helped her out with a class. Bridget gets angry and tells Cate she doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a teenager anymore. Later that night, Cate falls asleep watching the movie Freaky Friday.
When Cate wakes up, she finds she is in Bridget’s body, and Bridget is in hers! Furthermore, Jim (the grandpa) and C.J. (the cousin living with them) have switched bodies, and Rory (the younger brother) has switched bodies with the family hamster. The only one still in their normal body is Kerry, the other sister.
The day progresses when the whole family goes to school. (Cate is the school nurse, C.J. is a substitute teacher, and Jim was supposed to give a presentation on the Vietnam War today). What makes matters worse is that a school inspector is there and will be interviewing Cate and C.J.! Miraculously, Bridget (in Cate’s body) passes the inspection by showing how in touch she is with the student body and giving the inspector makeup tips. However, Jim (in C.J’s body) hits on the elderly inspector, Bridget (in Cate’s body) hits on her crush in front of the inspector, and Cate (in Bridget’s body) promises the dorky boy she’ll go with him to the dance.
Everything gets more and more chaotic, until finally Cate wakes up and realizes it was all a dream. She comes to the realization that it really is more confusing to be a teenage than she thought and tells Bridget she can make her own decision about who she goes with to the school dance.
This episode seems to closely follow the themes presented in Freaky Friday, except that it occurs only in Cate’s dream. Like many fairy tales, it deals with uncertainty as Cate didn’t really know what it was like to be Bridget, and during the dream none of the characters knew how the switch happened. Cate learns a lesson in the end by realizing she has to let her children make some of their own decisions and it’s hard to understand what they are really going through. The other characters didn't seem to have any major realizations; it seems the other switches were probably for comedic purposes.

June 2, 2008

Scrubs: My Princess Bride

The last episode of the NBC sitcom "Scrubs" to air this year, "My Princess bride," (you can read the recap here: makes a pretty classic fairy tale retelling. Although the title points to the movie "The Princess Bride," the episode doesn't so much riff on the movie as tell as its own fairy tale.

In the episode, the character of Dr. Cox tells a story to his son, Jack. In the story, he converts all the characters in the show (who are doctors and nurses at the hospital Sacred Heart) into magical characters in the land Sacred Heartia: the Janitor becomes a giant, a nurse an angry villager, the lawyer a deformed monster, etc. Every character's fantastical counterpart is some reflection on their real world personality: for instance, a couple, Turk and Carla, who are annoyingly joined at the hip, become "Turla," a witch that is two witches stuck inside one body.

The episode deals with a quest to save a Princesses' handmaiden from an evil monster (typical, right?: a curse that needs to be lifted). Several attempts fail, and the characters need supernatural aid to finally lift the curse. In the end, it is some wood nymphs that accidentally provide the answer.

In episode, we realize that every thing that happens in the story has a correspondence to "the real world": in the real world of Sacred Heart, they are trying to figure out what is wrong with a patient, who is rapidly getting worse. In the end, some interns accidentally provide the answer, and they diagnose the patient with Wilson's disease. However, the disease is so far progressed she now needs a new liver.

In the story, the handmaiden recovers, and the Dr. Cox is asked by his wife if that's what "really happened." Did the patient actually survive? Dr. Cox says, "That's how I'm telling it."

It's kind of an interesting example of layering a fairy tale narrative onto a "real" narrative. That's certainly an option for your work: the fairy tale tale could be narrated by a character in the story, who is using it to deal with a real life incident.