Ten Ways To Make Grimm Better

Published on April 3rd, 2013 in: Horror, Listicles, Top Ten Lists, TV |

By Lisa Anderson


Few shows on TV are frustratingly uneven as NBC’s Grimm. The fairytale-inspired adventures of homicide detective Nick Burkhardt got off to a shaky start early last year, but dramatically improved over the first season. The show got off to a strong start at the beginning of the second season, only to resume wobbling after a long hiatus.

Fans of Grimm acknowledge its flaws, even as they celebrate its strengths. Its ensemble cast and story arcs are strong, and for the most part, the weakness lies in the one-off, week-by-week plots. Here are the suggestions for improvement that I came up with.

1. Resolve the Juliette question.

This is the fan base’s main complaint. I like Juliette, and Bitsie Tulloch, the actress playing her, more than many fans do. But every stage of her recent journey, from coma to amnesia to love spell and now recovery, has taken too long. The writers need to give her memory back and decide as soon as possible whether she and Nick will stay together.

2. Think scary or spooky, not squicky.

I’m not a lightweight when it comes to horror movies and TV, but only grim determination (see what I did there?) got me through “Mr. Sandman,” episode 15 of season 2. It was that gross. Other episodes that got to me include “Bad Moon Rising,” which involved incestuous rape, and “To Protect and Serve Man” which involved cannibalism. By contrast, “La Llorona,” the Halloween episode, was creepy and atmospheric without being gross, and unlike the other three episodes, that one drew on actual folklore. Grimm does best when it hews to its fairy tale roots and avoids the gratuitous.

3. Bring back competent Monroe.

Everyone loves Monroe in part because of how geeky and awkward he can be; lately, however, the way he’s written has veered dangerously close to caricature. He’s the guy who, in the first season, could drop a troll with an elephant gun and managed to get a police detective into a drug den. Now he’s the guy who mixes up potions wrong to comic effect and “investigates” a bank robbery by loudly asking about it in a dive bar. The writers would be advised to go back to remembering Monroe’s dark past and the things he would have learned from it. Monroe is at his most interesting and endearing when he straddles that line between innocence and experience.

4. Make good use of Rosalee.

Bree Turner’s role as Rosalee Calvert was initially limited by her pregnancy, but now she’s back and her character is getting more screen time. With her apothecary knowledge, Rosalee is a valuable asset to Nick. I hope the writers remember, however, that they made her a recovering drug user in the first episode. They could use this to have her past come back to haunt her, and to give her a dark side similar to Monroe’s. If they can manage to recall that they also made her a member of a secretive, powerful wesen council, then that, too, opens multiple possibilities.

5. More Monrosalee!

When Rosalee Calvert was introduced as a potential love interest for Monroe, some fans felt that the actors playing them didn’t have much chemistry. I didn’t completely agree or disagree, but I liked the characters individually and the idea of them as a couple so much that I wanted to give it a chance. Since Rosalee’s returns to Portland, however, there haven’t really been any couple-y moments between them to judge by, save for two brief kisses, one of which was spoiled in previews. I hope that the fan reaction hasn’t changed the writers’ plans for this couple, and would welcome more subplots—even a whole episode—about their relationship.

6. Bring back Mama Burkhardt.

It was a real treat to see Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Nick’s mother Kellie, dressed all in black and kicking butt. Hers was a refreshing and unique role for an older actress, and the bittersweet tenderness between Kellie and Nick added dimensions to both characters. Fortunately, since we last saw her melting back into the Portland night rather than boarding a bus out of town, a return visit is probably on the agenda.

7. Put Wu on Team Grimm.

It’s becoming clear that Nick needs allies, and Hank becoming one of them has only been good for the show. Wu himself has already been through enough strange things that his inclusion in Nick’s secret seems inevitable. And let’s be honest—Wu would be both hilarious and valuable as an addition to Nick’s team.

8. Have Nick and Renard team up.

Based on the things that Nick’s captain has said and the enemies they have in common, this is also probably already slated to happen. If so, it’ll be an interesting alliance in that it’s an uneasy one, with Nick and his true friends unable to trust Renard completely. Plus, as I’m sure a lot of fans would agree, it would be kind of hot.

9. Work on continuity.

Fans of the show have noticed the writers’ tendency to forget things they established earlier. For example, in the pilot, Monroe implied that a Grimm got his or her powers when another Grimm in their family died. Later on, Kellie Burkhardt indicated that a Grimm’s abilities developed on their own, but came for women later than men. This could just be explained by misinformation among the wesen, but that wasn’t addressed. More importantly: having unknowingly ingested Nick’s blood, shouldn’t Captain Renard be mourning the loss of his Zauberbiest powers right now?

10. Bend it like Bechdel.

Some of the show’s best moments have been when it passed the Bechdel Test. Good examples include “Mr. Sandman,” when Juliette turned to Rosalee about her visions, and at least part of her conversation with the witness in “La Llorona.” Of course, there are also Adalind’s conversations with other Hexenbiests. Yes, the main character is male, but Grimm has some good, strong female characters, and would do well to continue writing three-dimensional interactions between them.

The choice faced by Grimm is not between being a good show or a bad show. No, the stakes are even higher: It walks the line between being an awful show and a great show. I want to see it be great. Feel free to leave your own advice in comments on how they might tip the balance!

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