By Dave B.
Disenchantment (Netflix), brought to us by The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, is an animated sitcom that takes place in the fantasy world of Dreamland (despite the setting and the cutesy names, this show is not for children). The heroine, Princess Bean, is a violent, lustful, foul-mouthed, alcoholic who is being forced into an arranged marriage by her father. In her attempt to escape the situation, she acquires two companions: Elfo the elf and Luci, her personal demon. Together, the three go on various debauched, alcohol-fueled adventures and engage in various self-discoveries.
I like Disenchantment. The animation is solid, it’s funny and well-written, and having a Groening show with a fantasy setting is more fitting more than I thought it would be. What really makes Disenchantment work however, is the characters. Princess Bean is absolutely fantastic. Even with all of her flaws, she manages to be kind, caring, and relatable in a way that few characters in any show can manage. Luci (voiced by Eric Andre) is also great. Having a character that is the embodiment of personal demons is clever and Luci doesn’t disappoint. He gets Princess Bean to indulge in all of her worst instincts, but he isn’t one-dimensional: he may get her into trouble, but he can usually be relied upon to get her out of it as well, especially as he experiences more growth and connection to his companions.
My main issue with Disenchantment is that it feels small. It would work great as a sprawling epic. Instead, each episode is relatively self-contained, connected to a larger story arc through recurring themes and a slowly evolving backstory. Despite liking the show, it isn’t one that I can binge-watch. Without fail, I started to fall asleep after 1.5 episodes. It isn’t that the episodes are individually boring. Instead, it’s that when viewed back-to-back, there isn’t enough variation in how the episodes are structured to make each one feel like a fresh experience. This is a show that a lot of people will enjoy more by watching one episode per day or per week, instead of all at once.
That said, the final two episodes of the season shook things up a lot. I’m really looking forward to season two. My hope though, is that Groening and crew decide to be more ambitious with the plot. Having Bean and her companions physically begin each episode in the same place puts a limit on the complexity and depth of stories that can be told in Disenchantment. That’s a real shame, because this show has limitless potential. It just needs the screenwriters to reach for it.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.