I recently started watching CBS All Access series, Tell Me a Story, created by screenwriter/producer Kevin Williamson (The Vampire Diaries, Dawson’s Creek). The show takes beloved fairy tales, and twists them into a dark, psychological thriller. I’ll admit, I was reluctant to watch the series since critics gave it mixed reviews, but much to my surprise, I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
Season 1 takes place in New York City with plotlines inspired by The Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel, and Little Red Riding Hood that are supposed to intersect overtime. Let’s get started, shall we?
Little Red Riding Hood
Kayla Sherman (Danielle Campbell) is a rebellious high school student who is still reeling from the death of her mother. The loss of her mother has lead to Kayla being estranged from her father Tim (Sam Jaeger). Their relationship continues to deteriorate when Tim decides to relocate his family from California to New York to live with his mother/Kayla’s grandmother Collen (Kim Cattrall).
So now, Kayla has to deal with moving to a new city, going to a new school, and being away from her old friends. But don’t feel too bad for her because she manages to befriend fellow bad girl Laney (Paulina Singer), who invites Kayla to hang out at a nightclub called Rapture.
While partying at Rapture, Kayla attracts the attention of a handsome clubgoer named Nick (Billy Magnussen). The two eventually wind up at Nick’s apartment, where they hook up. Nick asks Kayla about her wolf tattoo, which she explains she got to honor her mother. Suddenly, Kayla decides to leave, rejecting Nick’s attempts to get her phone number by insisting that their time together was a one-night thing.
But if Kayla thought getting rid of Nick would be that easy, she gets the shock of her life the next day, when Nick walks into her classroom. Turns out, he’s her substitute teacher, and judging from the look in his eyes, he’s not too pleased to learn that Kayla is a minor.
Keep in mind, this is only day 2 of the new school year, so imagine how the rest of semester is going to play out.
Hansel and Gretel
Gabe (Davi Santos) is a dancer who just so happens to work at the same nightclub where Kayla and Nick met. He spends his nights dancing in a cage, stays up till dawn attending the after-after-party, snorts cocaine — Gabe’s living the rockstar life.
After his shift at Rapture ends, Gabe’s roommate and fellow dancer Billy (Luke Guldan) invites him to a hotel party hosted by Dan, a guy Billy had hooked up with. However, when they arrive at the hotel room, it’s just Dan and a bunch of drugs and alcohol. While Dan and Billy make out, Gabe snorts cocaine and drinks to his heart’s content.
While heading towards the bathroom, Gabe catches Billy stealing money from Dan’s wallet to pay their rent. After he finds out what’s going on, Dan pins Billy to the wall, yelling at him to return the money. Gabe intervenes, and when he finally pulls Dan off his friend, Dan hits his head on the corner of a table as he falls and dies soon afterward.
Billy and Gabe respond to the situation in different ways: Billy flees the hotel room and Gabe, panicking, decides to call his sister Hannah (Dania Ramirez) for help, who he hasn’t spoken to in months. Gabe doesn’t want the police involved due to his record of drug possession and resisting arrest, and pleads with his sister to help him out. Hannah isn’t thrilled with the situation, but she does help Gabe remove his fingerprints from the room and stages the scene to make it look like an accident.
Their exit is captured by a security camera located in the hotel lobby, but hours after the incident, Dan’s death isn’t being reported in the news. “Maybe we’ll got lucky”, Hannah says. Gabe’s response: “We’re not lucky people, Hannah”.
The Three Little Pigs
This tale seems to be two stories wrapped into one. On one end, you have Jordan (James Wolk) and Beth (Spencer Grammer) — a young couple who comes dangerously close to breaking up after a pregnancy scare. While Beth is relieved that she isn’t expecting, Jordan is frustrated that Beth keeps delaying marriage and starting a family together.
Beth explains that the world is just too dangerous and messed up to start a family. She doesn’t want to bring a child in the world just to lose them to violence, but this doesn’t stop Jordan from pressuring Beth to settle down, and the two continue to lock heads over the issue for the rest of the episode. While attending a protest rally, Beth drags Jordan away from the chaos and takes him to a…a jewelry store where Beth apologies to Jordan for her behavior.
“We are the best part of me”, Beth says. “And there is not a day that I want to wake up without you. That is my reality”. She proposes, Jordan says yes, and the two lovebirds happily walk into the store to pick out wedding rings.
Meanwhile, Mitch (Michael Raymond-James) shows up at his brother Eddie’s (Paul Wesley) house, with a bag full of pig masks and guns. He recruited Eddie (who works as a bartender at — where else — Rapture) for an important assignment. He pleads with his strung-out brother to at try to pull himself together, stating that their boss Sam won’t be too pleased with the both of them if they fail.
And what is this important job that requires you to wear a pig mask? Robbing a jewelry store of course — and yes, this is the exact same jewelry store where Beth and Jordan are shopping for wedding rings.
Everybody in the store is held at gunpoint, and as long as nobody makes an sudden moves, no one will get hurt. Everything is going according to plan until the security guard decides to grab one of the burglars and holds him hostage.
One of the thieves shoots the security guard as he exits the store’s vault, and the pig-masked trio manages to escape before anyone else gets shot. Jordan realizes that a stray bullet hit Beth in the stomach during the standoff, and the episode ends with her dying in her fiance’s arms.
Well, that’s episode one, and what thrill ride that hour was. Now, we move on to episode two and whatever craziness is waiting for us.