An Enchanting New Comedy
Starring (the voices of): Abbi Jacobson, Nat Faxon, Eric Andre, Billy West
Created by Matt Groening
After almost a year’s worth of hype, Matt Groening’s newest show Disenchantment is has finally landed on Netflix.
Where The Simpsons skewers middle America and Futurama science-fiction tropes, Disenchantment sees Groening turn his satire towards the fantasy genre.
It largely centres on Bean (Abbi Jacobson), a bored princess who often escapes the palace to engage in drunken escapades. Bell’s father, King Zog, is the overbearing but incompetent king of the medieval fantasy kingdom of Dreamland. Over a series of events in Disenchantment’s first episode, she befriends Elfo (Nat Faxon) an elf who wants to get away from his life, and Luci (Eric Andre), her personal cartoon demon who has escaped Hell. Together, they engage in mischief and go on adventures, all while trying to carve out their own places in a magical but hostile world.
Like much of Matt Groening’s work, Disenchantment is darkly cynical towards religion, particularly in its organised phase. And yet, the show offers much in the way it presents the friendship between its main characters despite their immense differences. In Bean, it has a strong female protagonist who is not typical and capable of as much raucous comedy as any of her male counterparts. The show also has much to say about finding hope where it is lacking, resilience, and growing up. The show never becomes trite or cliched, and never betrays its own cynical tone.
Much of Disenchantment Season One riffs off the likes of Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and Medieval fantasy more broadly.
All of this is presented by some amazing cartoon artwork. Along with the tone of the show, the animation is somewhat similar in style to Futurama, albeit in a very different setting.
Disenchantment’s voice cast is similarly excellent. Along with newcomers such as Eric Andre (The Eric Andre Show), Groening’s fans will recognise plenty of the voice talents from his previous work.
Does Disenchantment live up to the golden age Simpsons of seasons 2-12? No. But then, does any other animated comedy?
Many comedies take time to build a wider arc and establish their formula, becoming funnier as the series finds its voice and the writers establish what works. Here, Disenchantment has already made a great start, offering up a fun first season. It will be interesting to see how it progresses from here.
With a late-season Easter egg offering a potential hint that Disenchantment may be connected to Groening’s other work, the potential is there for this building process to lead to something far greater.
Disenchantment is now streaming on Netflix
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor