Reviews

Disenchantment Season 2 (2019) Review

This series from Matt Groening is a refreshing break from the usually directionless narratives of animated series but it's not exactly lineal.

Spoiler alert! This review contains spoilers for Disenchantment season one.

The first season of Disenchantment was released on Netflix back in 2018, and this year we received a second. Moreso than ‘seasons’, Disenchantment is a story split into two blocks of ten episodes each. Before we get into reviewing the second season, I thought I’d provide a little recap of what happened in season one.

In the first season, Princess Tiabeanie (aka Bean) became friends with Luci and Elfo. Elfo saved Bean’s life by jumping in front of an incoming arrow and died. King Zogg, Bean’s father, and Sorcerio made an elixir of life using elf blood. After some events, there was one drop left and Bean had to choose whether to resurrect her friend Elfo or her mother, Queen Dagmar, who had died when Bean was little. At the end of season one, we learn that Queen Dagmar tried to poison her husband, Zogg, but Bean unknowingly muddled the glasses up and Dagmar drank her own poison.

Dagmar and Bean

Following the course of the first series, Princess Tiabeanie learns more about who her mother is (and was), when she travels to the desert kingdom of Maru. As the adventure unfolds, Beanie relies on the help of her old friends, and some new, as she learns who she can and can’t trust. The plot of season two is essentially Beanie and company trying to fix the events of the season one finale where everybody was turned into a statue by Dagmar. Rather than seasons, Disenchantment refers to them as parts, like parts of a fairytale. This means that Disenchantment follows a similar trajectory to other animated series like BoJack Horseman or Bertie and Tuca. Although long-running shows are fun, the story-telling animation remains quite a small genre, and from the maker of the longest running animated series of all time, (The Simpsons), Disenchantment makes a refreshing difference.

The central character, Princess Bean, is voiced by Abbi Jacobson, who is known for the 2014-2019 series Broad City. Bean’s character tries to balance between being rebellious, streetwise, and sometimes mindless, and this is reflected in the way Jacobson has chosen to depict her. Eric Andre is Luci and Nat Faxon is Elfo. I think the voice actors on the show do a really good job at representing their respective characters.

With an animated series like Disenchantment, there’s only so far the writers can take it. Because each episode is part of a wider storyline, the audience gets to see how the characters develop over time and how their decisions and actions change. On the other hand, the story also needs to come to a close at some point. In my opinion, season two was not as good as the first season for that very reason. It seemed like the first season had more adventures, whereas the second season was contained into just one adventure. It’s like part two of Disenchantment is the middle section of a story, but it would have been nice to see a little more development and branching out rather than the same premise every episode (i.e. save Dreamland). It is for this reason that season two seemed a little stretched out and less content packed.

Bean and Luci

The overarching theme of Disenchantment really lies in Tiabeanie and how she makes both good and bad decisions. Her two best friends, Luci and Elfo, are on-the-nose portrayals of the demon and angels characters on her shoulders. However, the story isn’t so much about morality and instead is a little more fatalistic. This being said, Disenchantment is a comedy, and in some places, it’s pretty funny. The humour isn’t exactly cerebral, but it gets the job done. Because of the physical setting (a long, long time ago and far, far away), Disenchantment cannot use jokes pertaining to popular culture really, so I like that the humour in the show is contained and concerned within itself.

I would say that Disenchantment is good for fans of animated comedy. Don’t expect the deep mindful questions found in the likes of other Netflix original BoJack Horseman, but also don’t expect the static, repetitiveness of Groening’s The Simpsons or Futurama. I think Disenchantment is a solid series, the art style is really visually appealing, and it contains it’s fair share of excitement and adventure. Although season two fell short of my expectations based on the first season, I am looking forward to find out what happens in the next season.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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