As creator of both The Simpsons and Futurama, Matt Groening is something of a deity to animation fans. As such, his new Netflix series Disenchantment has been hotly anticipated – but after a few days on the streaming service, reactions are mixed.
The fantasy show follows alcoholic princess Bean on her adventures in the medieval kingdom of Dreamland. Joined by her elven companion Elfo and ‘personal demon’ Luci, Bean’s story was described by Groening himself as about life and death, love and sex, and how to keep laughing in a world full of suffering and idiots, despite what the elders and wizards and other jerks tell you.”
The first series popped up on Netflix on August 17, and after a week to digest the show, fans’ and critics’ reactions are decidedly mixed.
The Groening fans are still stanning
A number of Groening die-hards are defending the show’s slower pace, claiming that holding it up to established shows like The Simpsons and Futurama so early is unfair. “Love all the people criticizing Disenchantment after watching like 5 seconds of the pilot and saying ‘well it’s no Simpsons‘, the show with a notoriously perfect first season where everything was fully realized right from the start,” tweeted one sarcastic fan.
“Disenchantment was actually pretty good,” said another. “I feel like most of the people being negative about it are mostly bitter I wasn’t as good as Futurama, (y’all, almost nothing will ever be as good as Futurama).”
Love all the people criticizing Disenchantment after watching like 5 seconds of the pilot and saying "well it's no Simpsons", the show with a notoriously perfect first season where everything was fully realized right from the start
— It's The Great Pasternak, Charlie Brown (@NoahPasternak) August 20, 2018
Disenchantment was actually pretty good, I feel like most of the people being negative about it are mostly bitter I wasn't as good as Futurama, (y'all, almost nothing will ever be as good as Futurama).
— ?Lizzy ? LemonDrop? (@lizzylemondrop) August 22, 2018
But the jokes aren’t that good, apparently
The critics’ reactions are less forgiving than the Groening stans’, with many reviews claiming the the show just isn’t all that funny. “The design and look is very much in keeping with the cartoon style of The Simpsons,” write CNN.com, “while the jokes revel in a kind of dry, smart-alecky wit that’s consistently hit-miss and not particularly inspired.”
A 1/4 review in the New York Post states: “Disenchantment compensates for its lackluster writing/originality with its first-rate animation, but that won’t be enough to keep ‘adult’ viewers around very long, given the array of top-notch animated series currently airing.”
“I don’t mind ‘not Futurama’,” wrote Twitter user @Coaldustpony. “My issue is ‘not funny’. He’s proven he can do funny, like Futurama. Disenchantment felt weak, bland.”
It’s not as woke as it thinks it is, either
Hollywood Reporter‘s review criticised the show’s lack of any real message. “In place of the family sitcom satire of The Simpsons and the mockery of consumerism run interstellar and rampant in Futurama, Disenchantment raises questions about feminism and history-bending gender roles that it’s barely prepared to engage with,” writes their review.
Twitter user @LeahIsMagical agrees, writing: “Going through the Disenchantment IMDB credits, and maybe if they had more than one female staff writer or more than two episodes with a female written by credit or a single non male director then it wouldn’t have so many sexist tropes in a show marketing itself as feminist.”
Going through the #Disenchantment IMDB credits, and maybe if they had more than one female staff writer or more than two episodes with a female written by credit or a single non male director then it wouldn’t have so many sexist tropes in a show marketing itself as feminist pic.twitter.com/oG1WHUsF1E
— Leah| MagicalWorldOf (@LeahIsMagical) August 22, 2018
It is #relatable, though
There are positive reviews about, though – a 3/5 review in Rolling Stone claims Disenchantment is “a visually splendid show, and a clever one, too. Groening and his collaborators have given a lot of thought to how their strange world reflects our own.” The New York Times, meanwhile, state that “Disenchantment is the first Groening show where making you sympathize with the characters appears to be as much of a goal as making you laugh at them. Ay caramba.”