Matt Groening is back at it again with another adult animated comedy that takes us back centuries before Futurama and The Simpsons. The series is set in medieval times with all the fantasy you could imagine (and couldn’t imagine). The story is centered around three main characters, a princess, an elf and a demon. Although they have yet to achieve iconic status, like Bart Simpson or Bender, they still revealed to be quite complex with seriously thought out back stories.
On Late Night with Seth Meyers, Groening revealed he had wanted to create a fantasy world for a while and that Elfo was based on the first character he ever drew once he had established his drawing style.
The series puts most of its focus on Princess Bean and her father’s kingdom; Dreamland. Bean doesn’t live up to the fairytale stereotype of a princess. She has the kind-hearted qualities to be one but she’s rebellious and never shies away from a fight. On her wedding day, she is cursed with a demon who doesn’t turn out to be all that bad. Luci is almost a visual representation of the bad side of her conscience and continuously encourages her to do the wrong thing. The third character is a clueless and gullible elf who’s been sheltered most of his life. His time at Dreamland could be compared to that of a Fresher’s time at university. The plot is immediately kicked into motion once the three come together for the first time. Viewers are introduced to love interests, an obsession with immortality and an evil plan orchestrated by two mysterious individuals. That’s right. Disenchantment does, in fact, have a story arc to it. The series’ format may seem similar to the Simpsons at first but events and characters from previous episodes are acknowledged and sometimes even linked to the progression of the story.
For now, it would be hard to say whether Disenchantment will last as long as Groening’s second creation, Futurama. Though, there were clever moves to entice viewers to binge on future seasons, similar tactics used by Marvel in both the films and television series. One of those was to include a post-credit scene after a fast pace and climactic ending. The other is a cameo appearance from some of Matt’s well-loved characters but you’re going to have to watch very closely if you want to catch it. Having said that, Disenchantment’s critics have been quite mixed but mostly leaning towards the negative. Even if the critics had been exceptionally good, Netflix has been known to cancel well-received series’, such as Sense 8, or Girl Boss. It was confirmed however that 20 episodes had been ordered before the release of the first season. Whether or not that decision was based on Matt’s reputation or the quality of the series remains unknown.
A lot of people seem to argue that The Simpsons is better than Disenchantment, but it would be quite unfair to compare both animated series considering the length of time each of them has been around for. Disenchantment has barely been out for a week whereas The Simpsons is now said to be the longest scripted prime-time television series in history. Even Family Guy wasn’t truly able to compete with the award-winning television series until its fourth or fifth season. In terms of the comedy, Matt’s trademark is definitely there but it comes out as weak. The new series isn’t particularly hilarious, certainly not as much as The Simpsons. A lot of it is based on sarcasm, banter and what you could possibly classify as dad jokes. Having said that, the humour sets the mood for the series and makes it enjoyable. What makes Disenchantment truly differ from The Simpsons is the incorporation of a strong story arc from the very beginning and a progressive plot that ties all the elements together at the end. Before the release of the series, Matt informed viewers that “nothing is what it seems” and it’s true that the series maintains a certain level of unpredictability throughout. There are various twists on well-known fairy tales, characters acting against their nature and even the plot itself misleads viewers.
Overall: 3.5 Stars
By Sam Dawson
Images provided by Matt Groening/Netflix