Well, Grimm season two has started that that means that I get to write about the show again. Besides being a fun 45 minutes per episode of adventure and fighting, there are at least three major good reasons Grimm is a good show.
The show manages the almost impossible distinction between morally complicated good guy/ bad guy dichotomy and the morally ambiguous version of the same thing. Basically, any story can have one of three categories of characters; sometimes it can have some of each too. The first category is the morally straightforward characters, whether good or evil. Iago is morally unambiguous and evil, and also very realistic, Captain America from the recent Avengers is unambiguously good. The second category is the morally ambiguous character. This character is ambiguous not because you do not understand his motivations but the character is ambiguous because the writer/director has swallowed the whole fishing apparatus of moral relativism and does not even realize it. I am a little rust on characters like this, since moral relativistic movies tend to be almost unbearable to watch, but whenever the film or book wants you to ‘understand’ the evil rather than condemn it, it falls into this category. However, Grimm falls into neither of these categories. It rather falls into what I would call the ‘real world’ category. Since the reader can be kept unknowledgeable about enough of what is really going on to make it difficult to tell if a character is trying to do something good or bad, that makes it messy, complicated, and realistic.
About the main character, Detective Burkhardt, we know his motivations and his methods, and he is clearly trying to do good. About the mysterious rulers of the Wesen world we know that they are trying to rule everything to their own evil pleasures. However, about the police captain, we simply do not know. We know he is working against the ‘bad guys’ but we also know his methods seem to indicate him as another bad guy. This messiness also extends to the Grimms who can see and fight the Wesen. Some of them (apparently, we only meet a few) hunt Wesen almost for sport, whether or not they are evil. So, full marks to Grimm for making a complicated messy, but not morally relativistic world.
Another impressive quality of Grimm that it avoids much of the repetitiveness that many TV shows have. For instance, Monk’s murder investigations become wrote and tedious. But for Grimm, which frequently introduces yet another Wesen every episode, it does not get tedious. I credit this to its adherence to the feeling of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and to the fact that the seasons have more than incidental season long plots. I don’t think I can really emphasize enough that in Grimm, we find the real psychological message of fairy tales. As Chesterton says: “Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
“Can you not see,” I said, “that fairy tales in their essence are quite solid and straightforward; but that this everlasting fiction about modern life is in its nature essentially incredible? Folk-lore means that the soul is sane, but that the universe is wild and full of marvels. Realism means that the world is dull and full of routine, but that the soul is sick and screaming. The problem of the fairy tale is — what will a healthy man do with a fantastic world? The problem of the modern novel is — what will a madman do with a dull world? In the fairy tales the cosmos goes mad; but the hero does not go mad. In the modern novels the hero is mad before the book begins, and suffers from the harsh steadiness and cruel sanity of the cosmos.
With that I leave you with a recommendation to watch Grimm: good times, good plots, and a sane man in a world gone mad.