Matt Groening Offers a Comically Twisted Take on Fantasy in Disenchantment

Netflix lands the Simpsons creator's latest show.


'Disenchantment,' Netflix

Disenchantment. Available now on Netflix.

Matt Groening once described his moderately unhinged show The Simpsons as a cockeyed version of Leave It to Beaver and the other family sitcoms he grew up with. "Bart is like what would happen if Eddie Haskell got his own show," Groening said. "He was a deviant."

If that's so, then Groening's new animated series, Disenchantment, might fairly be described as what would have happened if Draco Malfoy wrote a Harry Potter movie. In Disenchantment, a renegade princess, a derelict elf, and a rookie demon roam a decaying medieval fantasy kingdom, back-talking kings and wizards much the way Bart Simpson does parents and teachers.

Bojack Horseman's Abbi Jacobson voices the brawling, boozing, and belching Princess Bean, who rebels—well, rebels more—when she learns her pop, the king, has arranged a political marriage for her. "I thought I'd get married for true love, or because I was wasted," she complains.

Luckily, inadvertent help is on the way. Elfo (Nat Faxon, FX's Married), a malcontent who has just escaped from the relentlessly happy world of Elfwood, where even the few heretics are hung from gumdrop trees ("It's like they all have peppermint sticks up their asses," he grumbles), blunders into the wedding ceremony and wrecks it.

With some help from Luci (voiced by comic Eric Andre), a personal demon sent to Bean as a wedding gift by an anonymous friend with a peculiar sense of humor, they escape and promptly begin sowing chaos throughout an already-malevolent countryside while under pursuit by the king and his allies.

If imps, fairies, trolls and the not-too-occasional decapitations don't sound like the typical fare of The Simpsons or Groening's now-departed sci-fi workplace comedy Futurama, Disenchantment will nonetheless be instantly recognizable: The crude animation, the chinless, bug-eyed characters, and the mockingly adolescent sensibilities. (That's not intended unkindly; one of the charms of Groening's work has always been that it looks and sounds like it was put together by some really witty kids from the A.V. room.)

And any expectations that the Inner Groening would be unleashed once he was working without broadcast network censors prove unfounded. If The Simpsons and Futurama are PG-13 shows, Disenchantment is maybe PG-14, ever-so-slightly sexier and bloodier. Like the other shows, its jokes are more suggestive than bawdy.

Set in a distant past or perhaps a parallel universe, Disenchantment riffs on contemporary popular culture somewhat less than Groening's other work, but clever allusions are still to be found here and there if you're looking. That chair on which the groom is impaled during the brawl at the wedding—doesn't it look a bit like the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones? And Disenchantment's fairies bear a startling resemblance to Tinkerbell as a weary, drooping whore.

Then there's Bean's stepmother, a vampire, who pish-poshes the girl's complaints about the wedding but does warn that the princess' wedding-night encounter with tentacles or testicles or whatever they are will be much more traumatic than she thinks. "Just leave your eggs on the nightstand and get out of there," the stepmother suggests in a sinister, Natasha-esque accent that's either a reference to Rocky and Bullwinkle or a clue that there are a lot more Russian spies with us than even Robert Mueller thinks.

NEXT: Arizona Police Commander Remembers to Turn His Body Camera on For Office Romp

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  1. Wow, the scummy vermin at CNN and some of the other Fake News media institutions asked the judge in the Manafort case to reveal the names and home addresses of everyone in the jury, probably so that they could give them to their friends in “Antifa”.

    Judge Ellis bless him told the scumbags to go fuck off and ruled against them. He himself has been apparently getting threatened by Antifa because they didn’t like the way he conducted the trial. Let the jurors make their verdicts in peace without fear of their lives hanging over them, you fucking left-wing animals.

    1. Democratic socialists gonna democrat socialist.

    2. Which episode was that in?

      1. Real Life Part I

        1. Why won’t they cancel that show already?

    3. Wow, this has absolutely nothing to do with the article.

  2. I thought Groening had built a house out of money, cocaine, and hooker bones and removed himself from the petty concerns of us mortals.

    I suppose I was wrong.

    1. It’s not just a house, it’s an office.

  3. Like the other shows, its jokes are more suggestive than bawdy.

    I would’ve gone with suggestive and bawdy.

  4. I miss the Life in Hell cartoons.
    Life in Hell cartoon by Matt Groening

    1. Me too…and the weekly paper that dared to print’em.

  5. finally a reason to netflix. haven’t missed a simpsons yet

  6. i only watched one ep, so far – but I’m not impressed. Aside of a few clever Simpson-esque lines (such as introducing someone as the “Slayer of Metallica”, which got a good chuckle out of me) it was a little banal.

    1. Yea, not really sure about it either. Maybe it’s just one of the shows you have to get into (or one of the shows that need some episodes to develop itself), but after the pilot, I’m left somewhat disappointed.

    2. I watched the whole thing today. It wasn’t bad, but I’m not going to be checking to see when the next season is getting released.

  7. Not a very good show. A few laughs mixed with various political and social themes.

  8. Did the writer only watch the first episode or did he only repeat things that others have said about it? Some of these characterizations are a bit off.
    The show is decently funny but mostly feels like a raw medieval version of Futurama. I like the characters, but find that they are being used poorly. I like the initial story that was proposed, but after a couple episodes they mostly abandoned it to turn every episode into a buddy comedy that has some progression. Probably the most disappointing part of the show was how quickly the personalities of the different characters mellowed out and became bland and generic. Luci’s role as instigator and negative moral influence fades quickly as he quickly loses any impact on screen. Elfo almost immediately loses his naivety and kindness as he goes about their activities with no moral hesitation. Bean is a cross between Fry and Bart.
    I want to see what they do with a second season, but the characters need to be stronger and the storylines more impactful. If they put more time into that then I’d be happy to repeat viewings of it. As it is, the show was a good waste of an afternoon.

    1. This is a pretty good review. There’s a lot of potential in the characters that’s being incredibly watered down by executives and marketing people. This is a polished sitcom stuck in the American rut that most other American sitcoms is stuck in. They really need to chew through the restraints and allow these characters to become a bit more wild, unpredictable, and allowing their personalities to drive the script.

      Most of Groening’s other works all pushed limits in a family-friendly environment. I think more could be done to push those limits even harder not to make the show more filthy, but to exploit some of the stupid shit going on in the world today.

      The Simpsons and Futurama, like South Park, brought a lot of the dialog in society together on-screen to create a dialog about it. More risqu? content can be put into a Netflix show.

      I’d love to see them take on race relations not to solve the problem, but to get the idiocy of both sides exploited on screen. That commentary supported by the extremely flawed characters would be some great humor.

      I’m about 5-6 episodes in, and it’s starting to get predictable and redundant.

  9. Whatever happened to Groening after Futurama Season 6 appears to have not subsided. Looks like garbage to me. 😀

  10. Meh.. the show has its moments, but mostly blah stale humor.

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