After a longer than tolerable wait, the second half of Disenchantment‘s first season has dropped on Netflix and all of the best traits that began in the first half has carried over in spades, making Disenchantment a unique add to the Groeningverse (I’m patenting that word, pay me if you want to use it).
Through the last year, usually when it comes to complaints about this show, the majority of the opinions I’ve heard fall into two groups: Either it’s not enough like Futurama or it’s too much like Futurama which is an odd thing to say in either case because Disenchantment is not called Futurama and never was. Yes, it’s got the same Groening art style, but beyond that… it’s a completely different thing. It’s a medieval world of magic, not the far future.
Basically, what I’m saying is that it is an unfair comparison and one that was never invited in the first place. Disenchantment is its own thing… let it be its own thing because, honestly, it’s entertaining just the way it is.
Was it a little weak out of the gate? Yeah, but name a Groening show that wasn’t. The Simpsons was awkward, Futurama was still finding its feet… Disenchantment did the same. It’s a nonsense comparison.
If one can drop the lame fanboyish crying for ten minutes, there is a lot about Disenchantment that works very well. For one, every frame of this show is stuffed full of puns and jokes in the glorious watercolor backgrounds of every scene. This series boasts some of the most lovely animation and art in any Groening series.
Beyond that, Disenchantment does things that The Simpsons and Futurama never hit on or, if they did, never committed to them as much as Disenchantment does.
Being on Netflix does have its advantages and one of the things that Disenchantment is taking advantage of is the binging culture’s addiction to serialized storytelling. Disenchantment isn’t just 30 minute self contained adventured, but rather it starts to lay the groundwork for an overarching beginning with the first episode. For reasons unknown that become more known as the season progresses, we learn that Bean is important and that forces are at work so, as she tries to find her place in the world as a princess who loves partying and adventure, she must also contend with a slowly building tsunami that threatens to wash her away at any moment.
Sure, Futurama attempted some serialized themes and stories, but Dienchantment has cranked the dial up to eleven.
Beyond that, Disenchantment has a cast of characters that is constantly changing, constantly growing as people, and even characters whos loyatly shifts as the winds do. Elfo, Luci, and Bean evolve as the series continues… Elfo goes from being a lovestruck puppet to a cynical realist. Luci goes from being a straight up demon and temptor to someone who actually cares about his friends and sacrifices important things for them. Bean yearns for freedom, but at the same time, gladly takes on the responsibilities that her station forces upon her for the approval of her father.
Even characters who would normally be nothing but background characters show shifting loyalties and conniving power-hungry motivations as seen in the last couple of episodes when Zog barely survives an assassination attempt.
Oh my gosh… this is the closest to an animated Game of Thrones we’re ever going to get.
Is it perfection? Does it reach the heights that The Simpsons and Futurama reaches? Heavens, no… but with time, I’m confident that it will. Disenchantment is a strong show, with strong characters and strong writing. The gate-keeping in the fan community isn’t helping and to assume that a brand new series will hit its peak in just 20 episodes is laughably unrealistic.
Worse yet, Disenchantment has already sculpted its own identity. It’s not Futurama, it’s not The Simpsons, nor is it trying to be. To argue otherwise is tantamount to trying to cram a square peg into a round hole.