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Review: ‘Disenchantment’ Has a Slow but Steady Start

Cameron Lee ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Spoiler Alert: This review contains spoilers for season 1 of Disenchantment.

Matt Groening, the creator of such legendary animated shows like The Simpsons and Futurama, has returned to the small screen with his take on the fantasy genre: Disenchantment. Besides from being Groening’s first show on a streaming service, it’s also his first series to have a female protagonist and the first to have a serialized story. Instead of just a random adventure every episode, each episode contributes to the main overarching narrative.

Disenchantment follows the adventures of the drunken and rebellious Princess Bean of Dreamland, her personal demon, Luci, and Elfo the Elf. The pilot for Disenchantment is 36 minutes long which, for an animated show, is almost unheard of. Yet that time is used wisely to set up our three main characters and their motivations. At first it may be slow for a lot of people but that extra time ultimately ends up making us care about these characters towards the end of the season. It may seem at first that there isn’t much of a story arc but slowly that arc begins to reveal itself. It doesn’t draw attention to the large story arc it’s crafting and by the ninth episode it’s revealed that the story was in plain sight the entire time. And by the final episode, the story goes to places that leave you wanting more.

Matt Groening has a particular style of humor and animation. You know the second the show starts that this is a Matt Groening show from the way that everything is drawn and textured. His humor, which is rude, clever, dark, and full of sight gags and in-jokes, feels right at home in a fantasy world which feels appropriately dim-witted and dumb. It’s a big world and season one just scratches the surface of what they can do with this concept. The animation is good; it’s not at a Samurai Jack or Avatar: The Last Airbender level, but then again, very few animated shows get to that kind of quality and artistry as those shows did. It does its job but it’s nothing new or different. The voice cast is great; many Groening regulars show up, like John DiMaggio, Billy West, and Tress MacNeille, along with some welcome additions like Abbi Jacobson as Bean, Eric Andre as Luci, and Nat Faxon as Elfo.

Out of all the characters, Elfo is the clear favorite: he’s incredibly naive due to being stuck in Elf Land all his life and is quite foolish, but he means well and wants the best for everyone. He gets some of the best jokes in the series and it’s not hard to see why. Some have already called Disenchantment a disappointment without seeing the entire season and that’s a shame. Once you get past the first couple of episodes, it becomes a very enjoyable and entertaining show that’s easy to sit down and watch at any time. Sometimes comedies take a while to get going; Parks and Recreation, The Office, and even The Simpsons took a while before it started to hit it out of the park. This may be yet another case of this; but by the end of this season it seems like the writers have figured out what the show is. Hopefully it’s smooth sailing from here!

Season Grade: B+

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