TV Reviews

TV Review: ‘Disenchantment’


Disenchantment is the long-awaited new adult animated series from The Simpsons and Futurama mastermind Matt Groening. Neither set in the present or the future, this time out Groening explores Dreamland – a mythological fairy tale world full of ogres, sprites, harpies, imps, trolls, walruses, and lots of human fools.

The 10-episode first season of Disenchantment focuses on the misadventures of rowdy princess Bean (Abbi Jacobson), her new elf friend Elfo (Nat Faxon), and her own personal demon Luci (Eric Andre) and a whole host of other Groening voice acting favorites including John DiMaggio, Billy West, Maurice LaMarche, Tress MacNeille, David Herman and more. Netflix granted us access to watch the first seven episodes of the new series and we are quite under the spell of Groening’s newest foray.

First off, Disenchantment will wow viewers with its distinct art style and visual palette. The character designs are obviously the recognizable Groening style, more Futurama than Simpsons, but the design of the world and bright colors and detail that go into the locations and settings are drop dead gorgeous. Every scene is packed with multiple layers, creatures and inside jokes where even the simple designs like the one-dimensional pitch black demon Luci are still a feast for the eyes.

Speaking of the actual characters, Disenchantment hits the ground running while introducing our three main leads and the chemistry mostly hits in all of the first seven episodes. Bean is a hard-drinking, tough as nails princess akin to if Bender from Futurama had a human sister. Luci and Elfo are essentially the angel and devil on Bean’s shoulder, but thankfully as the series progresses both characters get their own development and the show mostly abandons this writer’s cliche going forward.

As mentioned above, the series is an “adult” animated series unlike Groening’s previous animated fodder. Disenchanment doesn’t overcompensate and avoids have it’s inhabitants constantly dropping the “F-bomb” or displaying graphic nudity which would be jarring in this world, but it does allow the show to sparingly uses more colorful dialogue and spicier content than we’ve seen before from Groening’s.universes.

The story is also  more serialized than usual for the animated guru’s normal work, but with the short season the binge watch ability of Netflix fits well for the show. The series has a mystery around Bean’s mother who passed away years ago as well as the motive driving the culprits’ behind Luci’s arrival in Bean’s life, but truly the best moments are in searing one-liner’s and the biting wit of the dialogue that come from the specific character moments and not an overall arc or serialized plot point.

The trio of leads all have their own interesting character quirks and the series does well by them by avoiding overloading the show with too many companions in the main group. Andre is particularly fun with is deadpan delivery as he playfully toys with Bean and just about everyone around him. Bean herself is a strong, sure willed female protagonist with more than one badass moment, despite her uncouth personality traits. Elfo’s wide-eyed journey into the bigger world also provides plenty of fun discovery moments and his initial innocence is a nice balance between Bean and Luci’s more volatile vices.

While in the spirit of Dreamland, the most appropriate way to describe Disenchantment is simply magical. The series combines the best elements of Groening’s previous animated ilk while also being a fresh, unique use of Groening’s particular set of skills and humor. Futurama fans and Netflix users in general should immediately add Disenchenmant to their watch queue since it is one of the most visually pleasing and truly unique comedic experiences subscribers can find on the behemoth streaming service.

Disenchantment launches globally on Netflix on August 17, 2018.

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