When you hear that Matt Groening is creating a new animated series, you know exactly what you're going to get: subversive, brilliant comedy told through the lens of his particularly unique style of animation. But the legendary producer is doing something totally different with his new Netflix series Disenchantment, and it's all because he's no longer beholden to broadcast TV schedules. Streaming is a whole new world!
Disenchantment, a medieval comedy about the crumbling kingdom of Dreamland and the misadventures of hard-drinking young princess Bean (Abbi Jacobson), her feisty elf companion Elfo (Nat Faxon), and her personal demon Luci (Eric Andre), on the surface just seems like a medieval-set Futurama or The Simpsons. But not only is it a feminist series with Bean as the "anti-stereotypical princess" at its core, but Groening is finally getting to tell the stories he wants to tell in the time he wants to tell them in thanks to Netflix. His co-executive producer Josh Weinstein explained during the 2018 Summer Television Critics Association press tour panel that on The Simpsons and Futurama, they were "constantly having to cut moments or jokes or scenes to get down to get down to 21 minutes," since that's the broadcast allotment for half-hour comedies.
"Now we have complete freedom," Weinstein says, adding that "it's only budgetary constraints of like how much animation we can do" to which they have to adhere. "Now we're allowed to tell the stories in any amount of time the story takes," Weinstein says. "That's awesome. It varies from the 35 minute pilot down to 25-minute episodes and anywhere in between. It's a huge storytelling freedom. If we can have the characters walking through the enchanted forest for five seconds and just have a beautiful shot to appreciate it, we can."
Now, five seconds isn't that long in the real world. It's really just a quick moment. But to Groening, it's making a world of difference and why Disenchantment will feel revolutionary to his fans. Characters' emotional moments are their due. This sweeping new world can be given a spotlight. Things aren't so rushed. "It doesn't sound like much, five seconds," Groening admits. "But if we can take five seconds for an establishing shot, wow. In this show, we are able to let it breathe a little more and that's so gratifying."
And unlike Futurama or The Simpsons, Disenchantment will feel like a complete season of a television series instead of individualized episodes. "We're telling serialized stories that we never did with The Simpsons or Futurama," Weinstein says. "We have serialized stories for each of the characters and we know how the series is going to end. It's a big freedom and a big challenge as well."
Groening adds, "We're getting more and more ambitious as time goes on and this show is extremely ambitious."
But if you're a fan of Futurama and The Simpsons and were hoping to add another favorite series to you Netflix queue, don't fear. Apart from the three main characters voiced by Jacobson, Andre and Faxon, Disenchantment will be filled with Futurama voice actors so it will definitely sound like your favorite show, just with a new feminist angle with a strong-willed female at the center of it all. "She's flawed, she gets f-ked up and still has heart," Jacobson says of Princess Bean. "I find it so relatable and I think anyone else would."
Disenchantment begins streaming on Aug. 17 on Netflix. Will you be watching on day one? Let us know in the comments section.