‘Tell Me a Story’ Should Stop Telling Me Stories
Tell Me a Story is the latest CBS All Access drama show created by Kevin Williamson. The show is a modern-day retelling of famous old fairy-tales using the three stories of the Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel that all take place in the city of Manhattan. Though, the events take place in the same city, the stories don’t seem connect to each other much within the first 5 episodes . The show as a whole, tries to be a dark retelling of these tales but, the story lines have little to no similarities to the fairy-tales they are based off of. The only time the fairy-tale aspect is relevant is the very few references they make, like when one of the characters reference the story of the three little pigs when talking about the bank robbers, or when Little Red Riding hood turns down wearing a red jacket.
The first of the three-story lines we get introduced to is the story of the three little pigs and the wolf that wants them. . The three little pigs Eddie Longo, Sam, and Mitch Longo (Paul Wesley, Dorian Missick, Michael Raymond-James) are three jewelry robbers that use pig masks to hide their identity during a heist that goes horribly wrong in by the end of the first episode. In the story we see that Eddie is doing the heist to make money, so he can fix his roof that has leaks, as if it was made from straw. The other two robbers aren’t given much of a reason to be robbers other than just wanting more money. with little to no other real plot points given to the characters. In their story line we are also introduced to the wolf Jordan Evans (James Wolk) and his girlfriend Beth Miller (Spencer Grammer), who happen to be at the jewelry store during the heist .
The next story in the fairy-tale trio is the tale of Hansel and Gretel. Hansel and Gretel in this story are represented by is Gabe Perez (Davi Santos), who is a gay drug addict as well as an exotic dancer and and Gretel is Hannah Perez (Dania Ramirez) who is strong willed war vet . The two siblings aren’t very close but get put in a situation where they have to watch each-others back after stealing 2 million dollars from a man that they accidentally killed in the first episode.
The final story is the well-known fable, Little Red Riding Hood. In this retelling of the story Kayla Powell (Danielle Campbell) is Little Red and lives with her father who is a talented chef. Powell like all the other characters seem to have no relation to their fairy-tale counterpart since she doesn’t even wear red. Powell continuously acts out against her father who she has a bad relationship with her father. Powell’s life is made even harder when she decides to go to a club using a fake I.D. At the club she meets a man named Nick Sullivan (Billy Magnussen) and has a one-night stand with him. We later find out that Sullivan is her new substitute teacher.
The stories main fault lies within its overall storytelling and dialogue. The entire series’ dialogue felt extremely lazy and predictable as if it was written by teenager. Almost every line of dialogue Powell’s has feels like someone that is trying to act cool, but it just comes off as boring and lazy writing. Like when she goes home with the teacher and he says to her “It’s a work in progress” and she responds with “So am I.” It all just felt over the top with trying to get the point across that she is a damaged teenager who wants to be edgy. The whole problem with the dialogue could be looked over if the writing for the show was better and had more examples of show don’t tell, but throughout the entire series every character simply just says blunt dialogue as if the audience can’t read between the lines and piece things together. It feels like the show was written by some new name in the business instead of the talented Kevin Williamson who wrote the movie Scream and the horror show Stalker.
The show is supposed to show invoke a darker but still real side to living in New York that deals with loss, love, sex, and drugs. The idea that life is unpredictable, and anything can happen in the huge city of Manhattan. However, all of the real moments in the show only last for one scene until we are thrown back into the unrealistic story lines of the three so-called fairy-tales. It feels so difficult to take any of the show seriously when they take away any bit of realism in the show. Like, how a character admits to tampering with evidence in a crime and breaking into someone’s house and stealing, to a cop and then they just get to walk away with a simple warning, no repercussions. Another example is how multiple characters have drug addictions and then when they stop doing drugs it seems like they are fine and have no cravings or even any withdrawal symptoms as if people who stop taking a bunch of drugs cold turkey can just stop whenever they want with no consequence.
Overall the show was a drama about people dealing with all the dangers of living in New York. However, the fact that they try to relate them in any way to old fairy-tales just comes off as a gimmick to try and get more people to watch a below average show. With characters that just say whatever feels more edgy and every decision that most of the characters make having little to no repercussions, it’s hard to take anything in the show seriously as anything more than a fast-paced drama.