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.”
DISENCHANTMENT IS ON NETFLIX FROM 17 AUGUST
Empire spoke to Matt Groening on the phone from LA during a busy day of press.