14 July 2024

Matt Groening’s Disenchantment: Can it Live Up to the Expectations?

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It’s no Simpsons or Futurama, but it still bears Matt Groening’s moniker, and best of all, despite the mixed reception, Disenchantment is here to stay. What’s up with Netflix’s latest addition to its pallet of animated adult sit-coms you ask? Well, no more Springville or drug-addicted robots.

Instead, Groening’s series throws us back in time – not too far off, just to the Middle Ages – to an enchanted kingdom ruled by an unadjusted king remarried to a toad queen and fathering an alcoholic princess – the main character of the show. Add to the mix a newbie demon that is trying to convince a party animal that evil’s the new good and an oblivious elf that seems to have luck follow him around even in the dumbest of scenarios and you get a typical, fun, Groening recipe. However, can Groening’s Disenchantment live up to the expectations? Stick around to find out more about this fairytale went terribly wrong.

Breaking Down Disenchantment by the Numbers?

On the 17th of August, the series’ pilot aired on Netflix. According to the numbers, 4.4 million subscribers viewed the first episode.

As for the rest of season one, which has ten episodes, the number of viewers held steadily at 6.6 million. Gender-wise, over 60 percent of viewers were male, with an average age of 29 years. Not too bad for a debut, but how were the pilot and the rest of the season received?

Is Groening’s Newest Creation as Good as His Masterpieces?

Well, considering that we’re talking about Matt Groening and his out-of-the-box ideas, viewers and critics had to choose sides. Of course, this happens every time a new series pops on Netflix or TV, but, what happened here is that everyone had mixed feelings about the pilot.

Some argue that Disenchantment is a promising series, consistent with Matt’s way of using acid satire to portray real-life characters or circumstances, but some have called it unfinished – too many cliffhangers – and that it took far too long to introduce the characters.

However daunting this perspective could sound, do bear in mind that this is an entirely new approach for Matt and his writing team, meaning that it the ironing out a bit was kind of foreseeable. From our point of view, the series is quite enchanting and the popular culture references are delightful. Yes, some of the jokes may seem forced, but the overall tone of the series kept us glued to the screen, binging with joy.

The Plot

Now as far as the plot of the pilot goes, viewers will be whisked away to the not-so-enchanted kingdom of Dreamland. There you will first meet Princess Tiabenie, the not-so-enchanting heir to the Kingdom of Dreamland. More concerned about partying from dusk till dawn, our bucktooth teenage princess is trying to unhealthily cope with the idea that King Zog, her unfit to rule father, offered her hand in marriage to Prince Guysbert of the Bentwood Kingdom in order to secure an alliance. Minor spoiler alert, her future in-laws bear quite the resemblance to Cersei and Jamie Lannister.

Resentful in the beginning, Tiabenie accepts her father’s arrangement. However, on her wedding day, the princess is joined by an unusual companion – a demon the size of a cat named, well, Luci. Introducing himself as her personal demon and the one that was supposed to put her in touch with her dark side. Luci knows that Tiabenie is already spiraling down a path laden with alcohol, sex, and parties, so his mission seems easy peasy.

Meanwhile, in another part of Dreamland, more specifically in a Smurfs-inspired village, in a setting that seems more horror than happy, Elfo of the Elfwood kingdom is sentenced to death by hanging after admits that he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life being happy and eating candy. Destiny or not, Elfo escapes his impending doom and somehow ends up in the Kingdom of Dreamland just before Princes Tiebenie’s nuptials.

Groening’s orchestration of out of the frying pan and into oven play shift in full gear when we are, again, introduced to the most absurd characters – the Wish Master who has been downgraded to Wash Master, a jester who got thrown out the window by the royal executioner just because he couldn’t stop pulling King Zog’s leg and tons of others that we will let you discover.

Of Easter Eggs and References

Attention: proceed with caution as minor to medium spoilers are about to unfold.

To the viewers’ delight, Groening and Weinstein even included some Easter Eggs from The Simpsons and Futurama. Because we’re not big fans of spoilers, we’re going to talk about two of them.

In the last episode of season one, Luci, Princess Tiebenie’s personal tormentor, allows King Zog to take a peek at an enchanted crystal ball. Deeply concerned with the fate of the kingdom, King Zog agrees. However, instead of showing the King what will happen to this beloved Kingdom, the crystal ball goes haywire and instead reveals a cameo featuring familiar faces from a distant future.
The second Easter Egg appears during the pilot ‘A Princess, and Elf, and a Demon Walk into A Bar.’ As Princess Tiabenie flees the royal wedding with Luci and Elfo, they come across an unusual three-eyed owl as they’re traversing an ominous forest. The Simpsons fans would have probably guessed by now that is a reference to Blinky, the three-eyed fish that periodically appears in the series.

Conclusion

So, is Disenchantment worth the effort? Most definitely and there are tons of reason to binge it – an upside-down magical kingdom where everyone has an addiction, humorous one-liners, and, of course, the chance of seeing some very cool Easter Eggs along the way.

Author’s bio: Erik Winther is a passionate video producer from Southern California and the creator of Netflix Guides, a site to help all TV and movie enthusiasts keep up with the latest shows coming on Netflix.

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