When I saw that Matt Groeining, creator of The Simpsons and Futurama, was working with Netflix to release a fantasy-themed cartoon called Disenchantment, I was cautiously optimistic. Optimistic, because The Simpsons was a great show for many seasons and Futurama was all-around excellent. Cautiously, because The Simpsons fell into suckage and Netflix puts out a fair amount of garbage.
But man – a fantasy-flavored Futuramalike? Wouldn’t that be sweet?
Unfortunately, the show is a miss, at least for me.
The problem is the writing. There are funny, cool moments that shine through. In the first episode, one of the main characters stumbles upon a battlefield at the outset of a pitched melee between an army of gnomes and an army of ogres. At the end of the conflict, the elf protagonist loots the corpse of an ogre and then declares, standing amid the battered corpses of the combatants, that he likes war, but doesn’t love it.
This is the kind of scene Disenchantment needed more of. It’s simple, funny (chuckle-worthy if not full-blown “funny ha-ha”), and is the kind of thing fantasy fans and “normies” can both enjoy. It’s a little bit mature, yet the topic is innocent enough.
Unfortunately, these kinds of scenes aren’t the bread and butter of the show. Our three main protagonists – the tomboyish Princess Bean, Elfo the Elf, and Luci the Demon – are rather one-dimensional and become predictable and boring as the show goes on. I actually found Elfo pretty amusing, initially, until he became a mindlessly infatuated follower of the princess.
It’s clear that the writers were short on material and imagination and decided that their best bet was to beat on the same few jokes over and over again.
Poor Princess Bean just can’t be herself because she’s a girl and her overbearing father has [gasp] expectations! But we’ve seen this plenty of times before.
And then there’s the way they bang on and on about religion. For my part, a few knocks on believers and God don’t get my blood up – a joke is a joke, and God can take it. But when they just keep on coming in such a lazy way, episode after episode…
We get it, you think religion and religious people are stupid. What’s the funny part?
Here are some of the “jokes” from the first 5 episodes:
So here I was, five episodes in, with protagonists I didn’t care about, suffering through recycled and unfunny jokes. Yeah, I didn’t get any further.
I’ve read in other places that the show picks up around 8 or 9 episodes in, but I didn’t care to power through. Of course a second season has reportedly been given the green light.
In conclusion – if you’re curious, go ahead and check it out. The worst you can do is waste your time. If you’re debating whether to sink the hour(s) into it, though, I recommend a pass. Netflix keeps writing checks for this kind of mediocre content, but whoever’s making the decisions seems only to care about the visibility of this content, and not its actual quality. Marvel’s THIS! Matt Groening’s THAT!
If Netflix was hoping for another Futurama, this ain’t it. I’m sure it’ll get some views from Matt Groening fans, but my bet is that this one will be quickly forgotten.