Disenchantment has a lofty legacy to try and live up to. After all, it’s a show co-created by Matt Groening like The Simpsons and Futurama. I don’t need to tell you about the legacy of The Simpsons. It’s the iconic show of its generation. I also happen to love Futurama, as many people do. It’s not fair to compare Disenchantment to either of those shows, as it should be judged on its own merits. Having just ended the second half of its first season, on its merits I think it has proven to be a solid little show, a Futurama for the Game of Thrones era.
While Futurama took place in the year 3000 in New New York City, Disenchantment takes place in a fantasy land with distinct medieval vibes. We have our Fry in Princess Tiabeanie, our Bender in Luci, the demon from literal Hell, and…Elfo, who has no analog. The second half of the first season also seemed to focus on King Zog a little more, moving him up the ranking of character importance.
I found the first half of the season, which dropped on Netflix several months ago, funny if not hilarious. What did intrigue me, though, was the fact that for the first time a Groening show was doing true ongoing storytelling, with cliffhangers and such. It was built for the modern binge-watching era, and for being on a streaming platform. That was different, and cool. The second half of the first season picked up from there, but then settled into something more familiar.
I’d say the bulk of the second batch of Disenchantment episodes, why we can’t just call these two 10-episode seasons I don’t know, was more focused on standalone stories. The season ends with a cliffhanger, but prior to that it was pretty much just one-off stories after the first couple of episodes. That’s fine, but it took away a little of what made Disenchantment feel different and fresh. The fact of the matter is that Disenchantment just isn’t as funny as Simpsons or Futurama. It’s characters aren’t as indelible. I like Bean, Elfo, Luci, Zog, and even some of the tertiary characters. They just aren’t iconic. They aren’t Homer or Bender. They are just TV characters. Maybe it’s also that I don’t really like fantasy stories by and large, so a parody of those don’t grab me as much.
All that being said, I liked the first season of Disenchantment. I didn’t really care about the twist cliffhanger at the end, but it’s not going to stop me from watching a second season. There have been a few really good episodes, though no great ones, and a couple I straight-up just didn’t like. It’s something different, comedy set in a fantasy realm, and every episode has a few really strong jokes. Hopefully the next season features more linear storytelling. That’s what separates Disenchantment from the pack, and doesn’t help avoid comparisons to Groening’s genius, all-time-great programs.