Binge Or Purge?: Disenchantment
Does Disenchantment make a trifecta of hits for the legendary Simpsons creator Matt Groening?
I was a huge fan of Futurama, and growing up I always enjoyed the Simpsons. I was pretty religious watching the first run of Futurama and perhaps the first decade of the Simpsons, before losing my interest in the franchises.
I would still come back and revisit them from time to time and laugh my ass off, as I appreciate the fact that on the surface they are very silly and sweet but, underneath, have deep undertones of cynicism.
With the announcement of Disenchantment being a Netflix original, I was intrigued with what Groening would do, not shackled by traditional network TV rules. I was hoping for a slightly edgier content, and perhaps a clearer topical message.
Disenchantment Season 1 (2018)
Disenchantment follows the misadventures of hard drinking Princess Bean, a “typical” teen pushing her boundaries and tired of being a princess. She is joined by a newly released demon Luci who gives the worst advice possible, and Elfo, an elf that escaped the happiest land in the world…and may have a bit of a crush on Bean.
My first impressions of these characters are it’s Leila, Bender and Frye set in medieval times. Let’s see if Disenchantment can set itself apart.
Disenchantment Episode 1: A Princess, An Elf, And A Demon Walk Into A Bar
Bean (Abbi Jacobson) is a princess being forced into marriage to form an alliance with another kingdom, but Bean has no intentions on following through with this arrangement. Bean chooses to run. Once free, she meets Elfo, a super naive elf who is tired of living the perfectly happily life of the elf people. Due to some indiscretions with Kissy elf and being sentenced to death, Elfo leaves for the real world in search of sadness, disappointment, and pain.
The pair are also joined by Luci, a demon who was gifted to Bean on her wedding day for unknown reasons to us. His sole purpose is to comically coerce Bean into making poor decisions. The episode wastes no time introducing the heroes to one another and sets them on their adventures – which seem to revolve around them leaving the kingdom.
There are plenty of laughs here, especially Elfo’s self imposed exile from Elf Land and Bean’s wedding day: her husband to-be gets accidentally impaled! I felt that Episode 1: A princess, An Elf And A Demon Walk Into A Bar set the series up nicely.
Disenchantment Episode 2: For Whom The Pig Oinks
Bean attempts to foil another marriage arrangement. Bean tries to think of a way out of her upcoming marriage to Merkimer, with Luci advocating murder and Elfo advising her against it. Importantly, Sorcerio, the king’s mage, steals Elfo during this conversation. Ultimately Bean decides against murder. Instead, Bean meets with Merkimer and insists on him having a bachelor party on the open sea. She convinces him to take a party barge sailing towards Mermaid Island.
Sorcerio tested Elfo’s blood. Unfortunately, it killed all the subjects instead of healing them. They decided hey why not get more of this shit perhaps that will work, despite that it’s killing poor Elfo. Bean and Luci then heist a pig to fill the flasks. This leads to Elfo being released and joining the barge party to mermaid island, where he can partake in the potential murder of Merkimer.
The one liners were pretty spot on, but ultimately this episode felt like filler. For Whom The Pig Oinks played off the same elements of the first episode and honestly despite the introductions to the characters, they could have been interchangeable.
Disenchantment Episode 3: The Princess Of Darkness
The Episode kicks off with the gang out on the town drinking heavily and stealing a carriage, after evading the police and potentially commiting murder or at the very least manslaughter they head back to the cast
le. Still very much in the partying mood the next night they steal Bean and company Steal her stepmother’s stash of snakeroot and proceed to get high AF.
This all leads into another night of crime where they stumble across real criminals and loot Beans family crypt. Double crossed by the gang of thugs Bean and company are arrested and presented to King Zod, after being banished to her room, Zod and Sorcerio assume that Bean must be possessed by a demon and they must perform an exorcism.
After Sorcerio’s many failed attempts at exorcising the demon, he brings in Big Joe, a famed expert in the demon business. Big Joe handily exorcises Luci and Bean (interestingly enough, Luci sacrifices himself for Beans safety) and Bottles him up.
Once Bean realizes her and Elfo just aren’t having as much fun without Luci, they decide to rescue him from being tossed into a volcano and force a showdown on a rickety bridge.
There were plenty of good laughs throughout the episode, but yet again Disenchantment failed to push the story-line and characters in any meaningful way despite this episodes attempts to do so.
Binge Or Purge?
Disenchantment isn’t a bad show by any means, and I did get a some laughs watching their misadventures through the first three episodes, but it felt like work. I consistently was looking at my phone or occupying myself with secondary tasks as Disenchantment played.
With the Simpsons and Futurama, those shows were certainly character pieces that had you invested throughout their journeys, wherever it may take you. And despite he cheery animation, they are both very dark worlds. Disenchantment attempts to recreate the formula of Groening’s previous work but it all feels forced. Yup, Bean is a “badass” but she doesn’t really do anything and same can be said for Luci. We are told these things throughout the first few episodes instead of letting their actions tell the story. Elfo may be the exception as his origin story in the first episode was the most compelling, however in the subsequent episodes he just reverts to “Frye” light.
This series may have some legs, and might develop into something special but it fails to set itself apart from Groening’s previous work and comes across a bit stale.
Final Verdict: Purge