I am so into NBC’s Grimm. I was initially worried it wouldn’t be able to compete with my true television love, Once Upon A Time, but my fears were allayed, as the shows have gone in totally different directions.
Last week, Grimm used one of my all time favorite fantasy storytelling devices: They blamed the Holocaust on their antagonists. Nothing is more awesome than when the newly magic protagonist is learning about his enemies from a magical mentor or magical revolutionary and said mentor dramatically drops the phrase “Germany in the 1930’s” into the conversation, or includes a swastika in a magical education slide show. My spine actually tingles, it’s so titillating.
This rhetorical device serves three purposes. It establishes the level of evil our magical heroes are dealing with, legitimizes the world in which they are living, and it takes the onus off of humankind and foists it onto magical creatures, lessening the guilt and horror we feel at the fact that the event took place at all. I am the target audience for anything that scapegoats magic as the root of all human evil. I love high stakes, believing in magic, and hate feeling guilt and horror in equal measures. The fact that it desensitizes all of us to the idea of genocide and reinforces the idea that human beings are innocent bystanders, helpless to act in the face of true evil is something I try not to let ruin my fun.
I think Grimm might have jumped the gun, bringing the Holocaust into the first season. They might should have started with the Salem Witch Trials or Khmer Rouge; opening with the Holocaust to a Western Audience takes it really far, really fast. There are shows that can’t pull that off (True Blood did not benefit from its inclusion; Charmed wisely avoided it altogether), as it is a really horrifying event to bring into an otherwise fluffy entertainment vehicle. Harry Potter and X-Men probably did it best. I’m not sure Grimm has earned it yet. But they’ve definitely earned at least one more week of viewership from me.