Dis­en­chant­ment nails ir­rev­er­ent, but bails on rel­e­vance

Matt Groen­ing’s trou­ble with Apu spoils the fun of the Simp­sons cre­ator’s new Net­flix se­ries

StarMetro Halifax - - DAILY LIFE - Jo­hanna Schneller SPE­CIAL TO THE STAR

I love The Simp­sons like a per­son. So many of that se­ries’ jokes feel like they were writ­ten for me and maybe nine other peo­ple. Watch­ing it, even alone, I hear some line or other fly by, and my head whips around the room, seeking cor­rob­o­ra­tion that what I heard, which was so in­sanely spe­cific, was ac­tu­ally said aloud and not just in my mind.

But se­ries cre­ator Matt Groen­ing’s re­sponse to view­ers’ ob­jec­tions that the char­ac­ter of Apu Na­has­apeemapetilon per­pet­u­ates racist stereo­types con­tin­ues to be woe­fully in­ad­e­quate.

On the PR trail for his new Net­flix se­ries (which drops on Fri­day), he’s said things such as this: “I think par­tic­u­larly right now, peo­ple feel so ag­grieved and crazed and pow­er­less that they’re pick­ing the wrong bat­tles.”

Dis­en­chant­ment is the name of Groen­ing’s new se­ries. It’s also the feel­ing one gets watch­ing him not-hear those ob­jec­tions.

I’m try­ing not to hold that against Dis­en­chant­ment, the tale of a hard-par­ty­ing teenage

me­dieval princess, Bean (beau­ti­fully voiced by Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson), and her com­pan­ions: Elfo (Nat Faxon), a naive elf, and Luci (Eric An­dre), a wiseass de­mon.

The five episodes I’ve seen, in which Bean has ad­ven­tures while as­sert­ing her in­de­pen­dence, are pleas­antly amus­ing (though far more lan­guidly paced than The Simp­sons,

which fre­quently veers into a whole new plot seven min­utes into a 22-minute episode).

But guess what I haven’t seen? Any at­tempt at racial di­ver­sity in Bean’s king­dom. (And no, it doesn’t count that the next king­dom over is pop­u­lated with sala­man­der-like swamp peo­ple who are an un­easy cross be­tween Louisiana

crack­ers and vaguely east­ern Euro­peans. Bean’s step­mother, who hails from this king­dom, calls to mind Me­la­nia Trump.)

It comes as no sur­prise to read that Groen­ing be­gan work­ing on his tale of the Mid­dle Ages in the last cen­tury.

It is a lit­tle sur­pris­ing, how­ever, that he hasn’t made more of an ef­fort to ac­knowl­edge

where we’re at, cul­tur­ally, in this one. Es­pe­cially since his show is air­ing in the same TV uni­verse as De­grassi: Next Class and Sea­son 2 of Big Mouth — two very dif­fer­ent shows, each of which ex­plores its char­ac­ters’ in­ner lives in ways that feel cur­rent.

Why Schneller doesn’t just blame Groen­ing, but Net­flix too at thes­tar.com/tele­vi­sion/opin­ion

NET­FLIX

Dis­en­chant­ment, a new se­ries from Matt Groen­ing, is amus­ing, but makes lit­tle ef­fort at rel­e­vance, writes Jo­hanna Schneller.

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