Matt Groenig has established his niche as a staple in cultural satire over the last few decades. With The Simpsons, he essentially creating a subgenre of animation that remains the main influence for shows in the space. With Futurama, Groenig expanded on that world by experimenting with adventure and sci-fi.
Now on Netflix with Disenchantment, Groenig has hit the rewind button to depict a medieval princess navigating a life of privilege, neglect and complacency. The princess, Tiabeanie (Abbi Jacobson), is accompanied by her friends Elfo the Elf (Nat Faxon) and Lucy the demon (Eric Andre). Now in its third season, the series has come to be known for its inconsistency and lack of focus.
What began as a story of a rebellious daughter of a comedically tyrannical king quickly expanded into a large universe of stories through which Bean and her allies navigate. They come across different lands, elves, creatures, and delve into Bean’s parentage. The issue with the show, though, is that these encounters are interspersed in such a way that makes them ultimately underwhelming each time.
Plot lines are quickly resolved and thrown away with next to know memory from the characters. Arcs will begin with planted seeds before they are instantly stripped away, and some singular episodes are so vacuous they bring into question the intent of how serialized Groenig and team intend the series to be.
While it was improving from its first few episodes, the third season of the series feels largely like a retread of the show’s weaker qualities. There is next to no through line carrying the season’s narrative, instead several random misadventures that, often, aren’t too exciting. There’s a love story with mermaids, a revisit to an industrialized city, and an eerie underground community that isn’t even close to explored to its full potential.
What saves the series are the performances by the three leads. Jacobson and Andre utilize their comedic chops from their respective series to add a level of both ignorant and apathetic satire to their characters, respectively. Jacobson’s character is so well intended, yet incredibly ignorant to the ways of her world. On the other hand, Andre’s Lucy is sinister enough to recognize this in her and let her fall over and over again to comedic success.
Dischentantment is far from Groenig’s best work thus far. While its inconsistency seems to continue and likely won’t evaporate in the show’s next, and likely final, season, there are enough positives to give the series a try. From the beautiful animation that expands on Groenig’s zany universes before to the often hilarious performances and occasionally thrilling stories, viewers could do worse than Disenchantment.