Disenchantment is another of Netflix’s original series. It is brought to us by Matt Groening (of The Simpsons and Futurama). It also includes a handful of people from writers, to voice actors, to producers that have worked with Groening in the past. Being a rather huge fan of Futurama I was somewhat excited for the show, but still a little hesitant. I finally sat down and actually binge watched it. In the end, I am left slightly mixed.
To start Disenchantment follows the story of Bean, a princess who has no desire to be a princess. On the day of her arranged marriage, she gets stuck with Luci, a personal demon (heh) who will be with her the rest of her life, trying to drive her to ruin. She runs from her marriage and meets Elfo, an elf who has left home in search of a better life.
Throughout the series, we follow Bean as she rebels against being a princess and mostly just looks for any excuse to party.
This sort of leads right into one of my biggest issues with the series, I simply can’t sympathize with any of the characters. Throughout the years there have been a number of series that I’ve liked if I am unable to connect with the characters, but it’s rare that I will love them. For me, Disenchantment falls in the unable to love category. Luci is amusing, but even at his best moments he is still a demon trying to destroy Bean, it’s hard to love him. Elfo is clearly meant to be an annoying but lovable fool, but there was way too much annoying for me.
Bean is the closest I get to likable, but even she doesn’t do it for me. In the first few episodes with her fighting against getting married I could sympathize, after that, it goes downhill. She simply doesn’t have it bad enough for me to root for her as she continually messes up her life in order to get drunk or get high. I don’t think she is supposed to be sympathetic (I am not entirely sure), but without her being so it’s kind of hard to enjoy her story.
It also fails to have the emotional impact that the series tries to go for at times. Matt is a master at creating comedic shows with some of the most heartbreaking and tear-jerking episodes ever (see Jurassic Bark). This show certainly attempts to do that, but it fails to deliver. I wasn’t invested enough in any of the characters to actually care when things start to unravel for them.
I am not saying that I hated the characters, I didn’t, and they are more sympathetic than people in some shows. Only that I wasn’t enthused about them or rooting for them, so it left a bit of a blank spot for me.
In spite of this, the show is still entertaining. The backdrop of Disenchantment is well used bringing in fantastical characters and settings in good ways. It plays up the fantasy and makes references to other things of the genre. If you know to expect tie-in jokes there are plenty to be had, some rather obvious, others more subtle. It also has a lot of great lines that had me genuinely laughing out loud. The humor is never completely lacking, but there are moments when it lands in such a great way. Also, none of the episodes ever felt boring, while some were more successful than others; I never felt like I wanted an episode to hurry up and finish. That consistency kept me watching even if I never thought “this is the best thing ever.”
I found myself enjoying it, and I am looking forward to what the next season will bring (especially with the cliffhanger ending), but I just didn’t feel that impacted by it. It’s good, but not great. I hope that the characters develop more in future episodes as I think it could really help sell what’s happening. However, I also don’t know how many seasons the show is meant to have.
In the end, I would recommend it to most people. If you like made for adult comedy animation shows, then give it a try. If you are expecting something to the level of Futurama, then you will likely be let down. I don’t want to knock the show too much, I just think going in and not expecting so much would have served me well.
What do you think? Have you had a chance to watch this yet? Am I being too harsh or did you feel the same?