11 September

“Disenchantment”: The Simpson’s creator Matt Groening’s bitter failure

 

Disenchantment, Netflix’s latest series by the creator of The Simpsons is, sadly, totally disenchanting. But how did Matt Groening miss the mark so completely?

By Violaine Schütz

 

1. A lot of noise for nothing 

 

Audiences have high expectations. Remember we owe two of the best animated series of all time to Matt Groening: The Simpsons and Futurama. The first, which remains the longest-running series ever (29 season), has become a pertinent, caustic and hilarious social commentary on America’s way of life in all its glory. While the madness of Futuramaconfirmed the illustrator could still hit the nail on the head with his incisive and astonishing entertainment. So, when Netflix announced a new project was in the pipeline, everyone expected a new parodic marvel: having sketched out the present and the future, Matt Groening would be turning his attention to the past with that razor-sharp yet empathetic mockery we know and love him for. Interviews given by the channel had us salivating: “Bean, the heroine, is the antithesis of a classic princess.” But no! From the very first images, the disappointment was as great as the expectation.

Disenchantment | Trailer | Netflix

2. A shoddy sort of feminism

 

Once upon a time there was… a blatant lack of inspiration. With Disenchantment, we immediately get the impression that an aging Groening (now 64 years-old) is opportunistically surfing the trends of the moment to avoid admitting others have taken his place (the illustrators of Rick & Morty and Bojack Horseman in the lead). There’s an air of Game of Thrones with the fantasy aspect and Princess Bean is reminiscent of the Daenerys dragon queen. You also get the impression the author wanted to sprinkle his subject with a borrowed feminism because it’s something of a zeitgeisty theme right now. In the kingdom of Dreamland, we follow a rebellious alcoholic princess who wants to escaped a forced marriage all while looking for the meaning of life. Her erroneous companions? Elfo, an exiled idiotic elf and a demon in love with chaos and sin called Luci, in other words her good and bad consciences. With them, the young lady schleps from disappointment to disappointment with the same disinterest as the viewer amidst smug and often vulgar jokes, all without a decent script. The worst thing for any fairy tale.  

3. A confusing cynicism 

 

A well-worn recipe, irritating music, sloppy art direction, weak structure and rhythm…things go downhill pretty fast in the kingdom of Dreamland. Because while we try to hang on in there for all ten 25-minute episodes, the acerbic social criticism never quite charms. Instead we wait in a deepening boredom for a carriage that never comes. Matt Groening promised emotion, but it’s mostly cynicism that's served up on set. Each subject is touched on without being explored. From the tumultuous relationship between Bean and her parents to the characters and their identity (the princess's acolytes could have done with a different treatment), nothing is either refined nor catchy. Normally Groening has at least 20 episodes to weave his narrative… perhaps he was lacking space and time to get fully involved. And quite frankly we’re not to sure about granting him another season. Because the worst thing about this neither charming nor touching princess, is the laughter – Groening’s legendary speciality – that never happens. Maybe he should sit down and take notes from Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail

 

Désenchantée de Matt Groening, dix épisodes disponibles sur Netflix.

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