The cre­ator of The Simp­sons is back with his first new show in 20 years. What makes his fan­tasy com­edy Dis­en­chant­ment dif­fer­ent?


Stop your groan­ing — Matt Groen­ing has a new an­i­mated show com­ing to Net­flix. Medievarama, any­one?

MATT GROEN­ING IS al­ready re­spon­si­ble for two of the big­gest an­i­mated series in his­tory. The Simp­sons, ob­vi­ously, is the big­gest an­i­mated series in his­tory, but Fu­tu­rama is no slouch, with seven sea­sons and ev­ery chance of one day be­ing re­vived. His third show, then, comes with as­sump­tions of suc­cess.

“To have two pretty big shows be­hind us is con­fi­dence-boost­ing but also daunt­ing,” says Groen­ing, as he pre­pares for the launch of his Net­flix series, Dis­en­chant­ment. “I’ve seen a lot of an­i­mated shows with great ideas mis­fire. But I think we’ve done a pretty great job.” Dis­en­chant­ment is a very Groen­ing idea, in that it up­ends some­thing we’ve seen a thou­sand times be­fore — in this case, the princess fan­tasy saga. Set in the world of Dream­land, Dis­en­chant­ment fol­lows Princess Bean (Broad City’s Abbi Ja­cob­son). Bean’s fa­ther wants to marry her off. Bean would pre­fer to be out get­ting drunk and gam­bling. In her quest to do as lit­tle as pos­si­ble, Bean is aided by a de­mon, Luci (Eric An­dre), who has been sent to curse her but winds up be­com­ing her best friend, and Elfo (Nat Faxon), an elf who has left the ever-happy Elf Wood to ex­pe­ri­ence the wider world.

“I first started think­ing about fan­tasy as an­other way of sto­ry­telling in 2012,” says Groen­ing. “I love cre­at­ing en­tire new worlds for peo­ple to move around in. The Simp­sons was a fairly straight­for­ward tem­plate of a con­ser­va­tive fam­ily sit­com. With Fu­tu­rama, we came up with a work­place com­edy. This is a grown-up ro­man­tic fan­tasy. It’s com­ing-of-age, but not in the same sense as ev­ery other fan­tasy novel.” The orig­i­nal con­cept re­volved around not Bean, but Elfo. “Then I re­alised we loved Bean most of all. I’ve never had a fe­male pro­tag­o­nist be­fore, so I thought that would be fun.”

An­other thing that’s new to Groen­ing, in his first show for Net­flix, is mak­ing a series de­signed to be watched in or­der. “It’s a whole new world of cliffhang­ers and arcs that we would never do on the other shows, which has been great, as a way of sto­ry­telling. On the other hand, it means we have to show them in a cer­tain or­der. If some­one loses an arm in one episode, it can’t grow back in an­other.” He laughs. “And that is the kind of con­ti­nu­ity we re­ally care about on Dis­en­chant­ment.”


Em­pire spoke to Matt Groen­ing on the phone from LA dur­ing a busy day of press.

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