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A Slight Defense for Zelena’s Character on Once Upon A Time

Like many people, I find her constant references to “wicked” extremely cheesy. Her backstory also seems like it has perhaps too much in common with other OUAT characters.
However, despite these valid complaints about the way she’s written, I actually have a lot of sympathy for Zelena. To me, her cheesiness and tantrums and whining are part of why I find her one of the most compelling villains on the show (so far).
Why: because she’s pretty much an Evil Regal Fangirl. First of all, She has all these intense fantasies about Rumple, which she’s now trying to act out with him. I think of the dagger like a pen, or a remote control, whereby she wants to write herself into the story and become important.
Remember in the last episode, she said to Regina something like “so now, I get to be part of an ‘us’”? (maybe someone can help with the exact line). She was resentful, but I think also a bit thrilled because she always wanted to be a star in the story.
She also copies Regina’s clothes, or even outright just wears Regina’s old stuff and spends time living in her house (essentially, she’s cosplaying Regina). It reminds me of people taking personality tests to see which character they are like on the show, or doing research on what lipstick Lana Parilla wears, or any consumer-based fan-activity. Even though Zelena says she hates Regina, her real problem is that she desperately wants to be Regina.
Her “Wicked” thing is clearly a sad attempt to give herself a villainous slogan. It’s like something from a bad Mary Sue fanfic. Regina and Rumple always had killer lines, and Zelena is trying to copy that. She’s even like a fan because she sees Regina and Rumple (and a hint of Cora and who knows who else) on a magic screen before meeting them.
To digress for a moment, I also think Zelena’s feelings toward Regina are lot more similar to what Snow White’s stepmother feels in the cannon fairy tale: total and obsessive jealousy.
And yes, Regina is the innocent party here, with skin white as snow, hair black as ebony, and lips red as blood. Rumple, like the canon magic mirror, is not so innocent in the way he uses his judgement over Zelena. At the moment, Regina even has a new huntsman of her own, in the character of Robin Hood. Heck, Zelena’s even after Regina’s heart at the moment.
And frankly, as much as I’ve come to adore Regina as a unique character, she’s really not the jealous type, like the stepmother is supposed to be. She’s possessive, vengeful, ambitious, a sore loser, and has other flaws too. But she never has the deep insecurity that makes a person truly vulnerable to jealousy.
Zelena’s a different story— she was already set up to be unstable, comes from a history of rejection, thinks she has a chance to be a ‘star’ in a story of Rumple’s making, feels like she belongs in this magical world of being a powerful person who matters, and then is rejected again. So ironically, despite being the ‘B-list’ version of Regina, or a Regina fangirl, Zelena might, without even realizing it, come closer the non-OUAT evil queen character than Regina.
TL;DR: I think Zelena’s interesting because she’s like a twisted OUAT fangirl.

Had I told the sea
What I felt for you,
It would have left its shores,
Its shells,
Its fish,
And followed me.

Nizar Qabbani, In The Summer (via seabois)