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Why Is Once Upon a Time Like Buffy? Plus, Just How Evil Is the Evil Queen?

ONCE UPON A TIME, JAMIE DORNAN, LANA PARRILLA, GINNIFER GOODWIN, JOSH DALLAS, ROBERT CARLYLE, JARED GILMORE, JENNIFER MORRISON ABC/CRAIG SJODIN L

Truth time. We are huge revisionist fairy-tale fans and we are hooked on ABC's smash Once Upon a Time. Between fantasy dream casting, a heartbreaking death pool and the complex color-coded fairy-tale timeline we spend our evenings working on, we want to know everything about this show.

Lucky for us, and by extension you too, consulting producer Jane Espenson spilled lots of secrets about Once Upon a Time. She told us all about how dangerous Regina (Lana Parilla) will become, the fairy-tale past that influences the hot sheriff (Jamie Dornan) and why she thinks this series is like another little show she worked on, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Maybe you've heard of it...

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"In spite of these fantastical elements, it really stays grounded in the emotions," Espenson told us. "These writers, [executive producers] Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, are really fantastic and we're constantly talking in the room about what's real and what [the characters] are really feeling. It reminds me a lot of how Joss Whedon ran the writer's room at Buffy: What are these characters emotionally ready to feel at this moment? And these guys have a very similar attitude." We'd say that's a pretty nice endorsement for Once.

With an elaborately created evil curse on the line, emotions are certainly heightened. So just how dangerous can we expect Regina to get? Evil is in her fairy-tale counterpart's name after all. "She's going to have to start reacting," Espenson explains. "Storybrooke has been constructed very specifically by the Evil Queen and because Emma (Jennifer Morrison) is there the curse is starting to fray and crumble around the edges. As Emma lives there longer her influence will start spreading in the town." So it's safe to say Emma and Regina won't be BFFs, combing each other's hair anytime soon.

If you know anything about us you know we are suckers for TV true loves, so the best thing about Once's dual stories is twice as much Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas). Hope you love them as much as we do, because Espenson says we'll "see various chapters in a fairly long history between them." And he might look the part of the perfect prince, but Espenson warns: "Forget what you think you know about Prince Charming." We will soon learn about what family he is a part of—and it won't be at all what we expect.

And what about that pesky "wife" of the prince's amnesiac Storybrooke counterpart, David? Will she keep Mary Margaret and him apart? Espenson promises things will get "very complicated and very emotional."

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Jamie Dornan, Once Upon a Time ABC/CHRIS HELCERMANAS-BENGE

Also complicated and emotional is Snow's relationship with the Evil Queen. If there was any ambiguity as to whether Regina remembers her fairy-tale past, Espenson reveals: "Regina knows. She has her memory as the Evil Queen." Things just got a little more deliciously evil. But if you search in the recesses of your childhood memories, you may remember that before she was the Evil Queen, she was also Snow's stepmother, and we will soon learn all about the epic fallout that eventually led to Snow hiding in the woods—and a little glass coffin.

Which brings us to the town's mysterious law enforcement hottie, Sherriff Graham. Seriously, why is he so hot? Maybe it's the rugged good looks or endless supply of vests. But even we can see past that and have noticed he is firmly in the hazy gray area of good or bad, and we've heard all the theories on his identity, from Huntsman to Big Bad Wolf. Espenson tells us: "You'll see how his interactions in the fairy-tale land [with the Evil Queen] brought him to be where he is in Storybrooke. We've seen the affair with Regina, we'll see what the backstory is to establish that." So what did the sheriff do in his fairy-tale past to make him indebted to Regina today? Nothing good, no doubt.

You might be wondering, what does Jane Espenson work on in her free time when she's not helping to create elaborate backstories for fairytale characters? She co-creates a hilarious web series, of course. Husbands follows the immediate aftermath of two young men who get married by accident in Las Vegas. We've all been in that position, right? Watch it people, but just don't do it in public because you will get strange stares when you inevitably laugh very loudly.

What fairy-tale you do you want to see come to life on Once Upon a Time? Have you voted in the tragic death pool yet? Hit the comments!

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