We’ve explored whacky the town of Springfield in The Simpsons. We’ve travelled to the distant future in Futurama. Naturally, it’s now time to take a look into the past in Matt Groening’s new series Disenchantment. Set in the fantasy world of Dreamland, the new Netflix show will be a satire on common fantasy tropes, taking inspiration from classic games like Dungeons and Dragons to more modern shows like Game of Thrones. As a massive Futurama fan, I cannot express enough how excited I am to watch a new show by Matt Groening. Not only will the show explore my favorite genre, but it will do so with the witty and charming humor which the writer is so well known for.
The story follows a young princess named Bean, played by Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson, who’s rambunctious personality is matched only by her impressive drinking abilities. She is joined by two companions; a dim-witted elf named Elfo, played by Nat Faxon, and her personal demon Luci, played by Eric Andre. For those of you who have never watched the Eric Andre Show, let’s just say I think it makes a lot of sense for the him to be playing a chaotic force of evil. Unlike Groening’s previous shows, Disenchantment will be a serialized story, meaning that it will have one overarching story to be watched in order, rather than having no particular order to the episodes.
This will be Matt Groening’s third show since the Simpsons, but it will be his first show to be a Netflix exclusive. Yep, that means binging. Lots of binging. The first season will have a total of ten episodes, slightly shorter than other Netflix exclusives like Bojack Horseman, but also longer than the first season of Castlevania. Seriously, Castlevania only had four 20-minute episodes. Why not just make a movie at that point? Whereas this is significantly shorter than the seasons of his previous shows, this is probably a good sign due to the fact that it will have one cohesive story rather than a bunch of individualized episodes.
Groening has mentioned that his contract with Netflix has been a positive experience, claiming that the streaming service has been “really nice” about how he wishes to handle the show. Groening has also stated that the show will “not be what it seems”, and that there will be secrets and easter-eggs which fans should watch out for throughout the series. Theories have already sprouted up around the internet (as usual), with some people saying that Disenchantment will exist within the same universe as The Simpsons and Futurama but be set in the medieval times. Truth be told, we won’t know what Groening really means until the show is released. My hope is that there will be a lot of room for theories and speculation, which could keep the show fresh for a longer period of time, rather than letting it settle into something forgettable.
I have been a massive fantasy fan since the first time I watched The Fellowship of the Ring back in 2001. Seeing Groening take on the genre gives me a lot of hope that this could turn into one of my favorite shows of 2018. Growing up I watched both of his shows, but Futurama is to this day one of my favorite animated series. Groening was able to keep the show afloat through its cult following, after its production was initially cut back in 2003 by Fox. Despite being cancelled, fans continued to hope for future episodes. Eventually Comedy Central brought it back to life to continue its fourth season in 2009. Finally, it ended four years later by getting a proper finale, one that left many fans pretty satisfied. It was lucky that Comedy Central showed interest, otherwise the show would have ended far before it deserved.
The Simpsons, however, has had the polar opposite turnout. Now entering its 30th, that’s right, 30th season, which starts in September of this year, The Simpsons has had one continuous run on Fox since the beginning. Yet the quality of episodes, as agreed by most fans and even critics, has significantly dropped. I mean, after over 600 episodes I can’t imagine it being very easy to come up with fresh ideas. Despite the shrinking popularity, Groening continues to produce the show alongside James L. Brooks, somehow managing to keep majority of the original cast members along for the ride. Regardless of the impressive nature of The Simpsons’ lengthy run, I have to agree with fans and critics that the show hasn’t been quite as strong since even the late 90’s episodes. Even Futurama had a dip after its revival, but still managed to end on a strong note.
With these two shows under his belt, Groening has shown that he is more than capable of creating a fleshed-out world with great story lines and memorable characters. In regards to this, I am pretty happy that Groening is keeping it so short. The Simpsons suffered due to too episodic fatigue, and Futurama had some fantastic storylines along with some that were forgettable. Disenchantment could be the show to use the formula which allows Groening to show us his best work. For me it feels satisfying to have the third show under his belt be a medieval fantasy; it almost could be a sort-of trilogy, with the first two installments being a family sitcom and a sci-fi comedy. from his wide range of humor to charming and memorable art style, I have always been a huge fan of Matt Groening, and I hope to be binging Disenchantment multiple times when it comes out on August 17th.