Matt Groening has a pretty respectable track record. He created, The Simpsons is a record-breaking hit, though many argue it’s past its best for quite a few years now. Groening is also the mastermind behind Futurama, a show which I personally believe has even more staying power than The Simpsons. With many years of network TV animation success under his belt, Groening has made the next logical step with his fantasy cartoon, Disenchantment which is now streaming on Netflix.
What is Disenchantment All About?
I guess it’s not that much of a surprise that Disenchantment is an animated medieval fantasy. The Simpsons is a comical take on the average American family of the present while Futurama is based in the distant future. Groening needed to complete his trifecta by travelling back in time to a land of castles and fantasy. The medium of Netflix means this is the most adult series Groening has made to date.
You’ll spot Groening’s trademark overbite and big-eyed animation style, though many characters do have five fingers, an unusual feature for fans of The Simpsons and Futurama. It’s actually the first time he’s animated with five finger characters, perhaps because the animation is outsourced as removing a finger in his previous work was to save on workload.
Disenchantment follows a reluctant princess and her companions in the kingdom of Dreamland. To better understand the show, let’s meet the characters.
The Characters of Disenchantment
Princess Tiabeanie, nicknamed Bean, is the main character of Disenchantment. She’s a trouble-making teenager who begins the series avoiding an unwanted arranged marriage. She enjoys taking the odd drink and defying all those tropes you’d expect from a fairytale princess.
Elfo is working in an elf assembly line where he pops chocolates into boxes. Unhappy in his role, disliking constant happiness as the norm and with his love to Kissy Elf forbidden, he leaves the elf world, Elf Wood. Elfo is the first to do this in centuries and as luck would have it, he crosses path with Bean and becomes her companion while also harbouring a secret crush for the princess.
Luci is Bean’s personal demon, a gift to her from two wizards. He’s dark, both in his physical appearance and in his actions. Luci is regularly mistaken to be a talking cat.
King Zog possibly inspired somewhat by the Albanian King Zog who has countless blood feuds and over fifty assassination attempts on his life, King Zog is Bean’s father. He’s a loud and brash, in fact, many Futurama fans might just be reminded of Bender.
There are several other recurring characters throughout the show and if you’re a fan of The Simpsons, you’ll know how important these guys are. One of my favourites so far is the painfully accurate town crier who has clearly been inspired by Monty Python.
Is Disenchantment Any Good?
The series gets off to a really rocky start. It’s been a while since Groening had to introduce new characters and develop relationships and this really shows. The first episode is hectic and feels really rushed. I was left using a word made famous by Lisa Simpson; meh.
The second episode doesn’t do much to turn a corner but there’s a moment in the third episode involving police donkeys and sirens which made me laugh out loud, the first time this happened while watching Disenchantment. Turns out, you really need one of these moments to start appreciating a show. While I haven’t watched it all, I’ve started to enjoy it a bit more.
Disenchantment: The Verdict
While it starts slow, Disenchantment does pick up the pace with some more regular laughs once we get to know all the characters. Some jokes are hit and miss while others are proper belly laughs. It may pick up but right now it’s like watching that time The Simpsons wasn’t great but also wasn’t terrible. You know, around season fourteen.
Disenchantment has joined a busy calendar of August releases alongside Afflicted, The Package and Insatiable, streaming its first ten episodes on Netflix now with more to come next year.