Matt Groening has gifted us with some pivotal series in the last 30 years or so. The first window into his genius was that little unstoppable juggernaut known as The Simpsons, currently in its 75th season if I recall correctly. Then there was, of course, the series that one could argue catered to us geeks directly with its constant Twilight Zone, Star Trek, and other science-fiction themes and references—the television entity known as Futurama. Now, in the year 2018, when series like Game of Thrones and Harry Potter have dominated television and movies alike for the last two decades, Groening has come up with an all-new series based in a fantasy world, titled Disenchantment.
Disenchantment centers on the teenage princess of Dreamland, Tiabeanie Mariabeanie de la Rochambeau “Drunkowitz” Grunkwitz (Abbi Jacobson)—better known as Bean—as she comes of age, having lost her mother when she was young and living with an overbearing father, Dreamland’s king, Zog (John DiMaggio). To cope with the tedium of adolescence in a privileged royal household, Bean drinks a lot, and that ultimately sees her get into trouble. She eventually meets an naive Elf named Elfo (Nat Faxon), who finds himself in the human world after not fitting in in the overly happy elf world. Also to join the twosome is a catlike demon, Luci (Eric André), who encourages Bean to misbehave and creates issues for Elfo. The three drink, piss off the king, hurt alliances, and have other shenanigans.
In all honesty, I didn’t want to see this show. I felt Groening had overstayed his welcome—it has been over a decade since I watched The Simpsons in any form of regularity, and Futurama’s legacy, I feel, was extremely hurt when Comedy Central brought it back after the original five seasons and the storytelling just wasn’t what it once was. Mind you, I loved both series at one point; I still have great reverence for what they once were and what they represented. Still, my reservations for a trifecta of Groening were obvious. But then I began I started watching the show.
At first, like many series, it needed to find its feet, and it demanded that viewers get over things like an elf named Elfo. However, very quickly over the course of its first season, the genius of this show begins to appear. The premise of the show is not original by any means, but the mixture of amazing dialogue and the performances of the voice actors makes for an incredibly entertaining time, and before you know it, you’ve watched the whole thing. An example what I mean is the magnificent casting of British actor Matt Berry, who you may remember as the arrogant, obnoxious, and misogynistic boss Douglas Reynholm from The IT Crowd, as—what else?—an arrogant, obnoxious, and misogynistic prince who intends to marry Bean. Brilliant and well played! Another thing, though simple, that I found profoundly fresh in the world of animation today is that all the episodes are connected. The show builds a story arc and follows it through to the end. Say what you want, but a lot of cartoons just don’t do that, and it was nice to have one full story for the season.
It is hard to explain the greatness of this show without giving too much away, folks. So please, open up your Netflix queue and take the time to enjoy a cartoon that is legitimately entertaining and funny.