I don’t know that you can have a show about fairy tales and not have it focus heavily on romantic relationships – that’s what so many are about…so the ‘ships never bothered me on OUAT. I like that each one is distinct in it’s own way – Snowing is that classic ‘fairy tale’ couple, Rumbelle is the ‘against all odds’ fairy tale, OutlawQueen is about second chances, and CS about finding love again after a very intense, first true love.
Even so, OUAT is centered around Emma and Regina’s love for their son. And as others stated, other major relationships on the show have not been romantic – Rumple’s love for his son is one of the most compelling storylines on the show, in my opinion. Emma has to learn how to love her parents after a very difficult childhood – and so on.
In regard to general opinion, OUAT has a number of ‘ships, yes, but it also has a huge cast. There’s going to be a lot of ‘ships simply for that reason. But I don’t think OUAT is anything like a soap – daytime or primetime – OUAT is about true, pure love, in whatever form that may be. No one’s bed hopping. Maybe 4 have even romantically loved more than one person – and they loved 2 at most. I think most shows that have a number of ‘ships – or potential ships – have equally passionate fans. I’m not particularly concerned with the amount of ‘ships OUAT has, because I enjoy them and think they each bring something unique to the table.