Disenchantment, with its wry humour and medieval setting, could be your cup of tea if you appreciate animated series
fter the famous future-predicting sitcom series The Simpsons, released in the late ’80s and Futurama from the ’90s, Matt Groening’s latest feat, Disenchantment, a four-season animated series that is available on Netflix.
For someone who set the benchmark in adult cartoons, is the latest series another unparalleled feather in the cartoonist’s cap? The audience are uncertain at best.
The cast consists of Abbi Jackson playing Tiabeanie Mariabeanie de la Rochambeau Grunkwit aka Princess (or later Queen Bean), Nat Faxon lending his voice to Elfo and Eric Andre featuring as Luci.
Part of the cast has previously worked in the acclaimed series Futurama - John DiMaggio, who plays King Zog in Disenchantment, and Maurice LaMarche and David Herman, who voice multiple characters.
One of the major incentives to watch the series stems from the previous work of the cast which ranges from comedic series made for adults like The Simpsons and Futurama to cartoons that most started appreciating in toddler times; Scooby-Doo and Tom and Jerry.
The plot revolves around the characters of Bean, Luci and Elfo; three species with different personalities that seem to have a lot of contradictions but come together to create a quaint and bizarre trio. This trio embarks on adventures where the plots and subplots focus on personal histories as well as joint ventures.
The first season begins with Princess Bean trying to run away from her wedding altar. The marriage, arranged without her consent, is what Bean is least interested in. However, before she does so she receives Luci as a “personal demon wedding gift.” An alcoholic in medieval times, Bean would have been looked down on were it not for her title.
Elfo, on the other hand, is an unhappy half-elf desperate to leave behind the shackles of Elfwood and live his life in a place that is truly ‘miserable.’
The storyline slightly resonates with Adventure Time, a 2010 adventure series in which Finn, Jake and Princess Bubblegum pull off similar stunts, and embark on adventures while trying to keep evil at bay.
In Disenchantment though, the characters delve into present-day problems with roots in the past. Princess Bean and her rebellious outbursts are what keep the show running through the four seasons with Luci initially trying to sabotage and plot against Bean but eventually growing fond of her.
In some ways, the cartoon series is a round of rapid-fire questions: Is Bean’s mother evil? Who is Elfo’s mother? What is Bean’s black magic? Who is Freckles or what is the King’s curse?
After taking over Fox and engaging global audiences from diverse backgrounds, it remains a mystery how Disenchantment isn’t up to the viewer’s expectations.
While most of the cast had previously collaborated, the dialogue delivery seems flat and bland at best. The emotional side of the characters is not portrayed fully as the words come out slightly dry.
There are moments when the humour drags and the plot gets patchy. However, a fifth season may be able to compensate for these drawbacks.
The humour in the series can be defined as jokes that overstay their welcome. While there is sarcasm that keeps one engaged to some extent, it is outdated and at times unenjoyable at for the younger viewers.
This issue can be traced back to the patriarchal setting of the series. The show, however, aims to advertise itself with a feminist approach as later seasons show the journey from Dreamland to Steamland where science is a thing and women are in charge of managing everything from traffic to bars.
Accustomed to the patriarchal system in a society where one sees only a limited number of females, Steamland comes as a refreshing turn into the current and future period contrary to Dreamland and Elfland – places stuck in the past. This cultural shock is evident on Princess Bean’s face when she witnesses an alternative system for the first time.
The animation is flawless; as are the character development, wordplay and pop culture references over the four seasons. The crisp medieval European graphics are the highlight, for sure. The detail is commendable, from the cobblestone streets to the grey stone buildings with wooden embellishments.
Disenchantment is a phenomenal watch for those who enjoy wry and humorous animated series. For those who do not, it may not be so great.
While the theme is based on nothing extraordinary or out of the blue, the characters make the show worth watching with their contradictory traits causing them to collectively see each other’s highs and lows and stick together through those phases.
The writer is an undergraduate student of psychology at FC College