Oct 22, 2018

[TV] Disenchantment: Season 1 Review

There are a lot of animated television shows these days that are not geared towards children. You can tell which shows these are as they all depict the same behaviors of drinking, resorting to profanity and making questionable life decisions. And a lot of them end up feeling very similar to me as they have a lot of characters shouting at one another and bad things happening because of course they do.

Disenchantment is one of the more recent entries in this category with a lot of the same traits but with a fantasy premise slapped on. But more importantly is the fact that this Netflix-exclusive show was conceived and created by Matt Groening of The Simpsons fame.

I suppose it made sense for him to go this route as The Simpsons has always been distinctly contemporary in terms of setting while Futurama was the science fiction spin on things and now we have a fantasy one with this show. And yet we also don't.

Synopsis: Disenchantment is an American adult animated fantasy comedy series created by Matt Groening for Netflix. The first season runs for 10 episodes and was released back in August 2018.

The show is set in the medieval fantasy land of Dreamland as ruled by King Zøg (John DiMaggio) with his second wife the rather amphibian Queen Oona (Tress MacNeille). However his daughter Bean (Abbi Jacobson) has become quite the rebel and refuses to act like a "proper" princess and is better known to go on wild benders around the kingdom. His biggest challenge of the moment is delaying her potential marriage to Prince Guysbert for as long as possible.

But a series of unusual events take place that send Bean on a whole new adventure. First is the discovery of the small demon Luci (Eric Andrade) among her wedding presents. It was part of a plot to turn her evil but it feels like she was already on her way there. In her efforts to avoid getting married to Guysbert they then encounter the good (read: naive) elf Elfo (Nat Faxon) who has left his own home. The trio begin to travel together as they figure out what the heck they actually want to do with their lives.

What I Liked: The show has that classic Groening-style humor inter-woven across the whole season and that means a wide range of jokes starting from quick sight gags all the way to more well thought-out punchlines. The show has that classic vibe of modern sensibilities overlaid onto a fantasy setting. And thus we get a lot of funny juxtapositions of modern situations adapted to the setting in the same way the Flintstones emulated modern appliances with various prehistoric-style creatures.

And what is also striking is how this is largely a single serialized story, which is not Groening's typical style given his past creations. While it can be argued that there's a degree of keeping things episodic, the overall sequence of the episodes still matter this time around, which makes sense when creating original content for a streaming platform like Netflix.

What Could Have Been Better: That said, it's hard to like any of our protagonists as they are all terrible in their own way. Bean is a drunk and pretty reckless, but this can get dismissed by her being a teenager. Her father doesn't seem to be a great King and almost everyone in the Kingdom seems to have their own quirky agenda. I can understand the demon being evil, but even Elfo has some questionable decisions and lines of thought and so what's up with that?

On the whole, it's hard to figure out what the point of all this. Initially it felt like Bean literally running away from her problems with her new friends but the rest of the season has her back in the castle for the most part, so what was the deal there? So in the end they just sort of help enable her as she plays hooky from this or that obligation with some rushed plot development at the end of the season.

TL;DR: Disenchantment is a show I tried to like but really couldn't quite get to that point in this first season. It feels like so much more of the same when it comes to these adult animation efforts and I'm really not the target market for that. And thus the show only gets 2 of Bean's plans that end up going wrong out of a possible 5.

No comments:

Post a Comment