TV

Disenchantment is a coming-of-age show with a backdrop of fantasy and magic

Showrunner Josh Weinstein introduces us to the new (old) Simpsons

Disenchantment Netflix

If you crossed Game of Thrones with The Mighty Boosh you would end up with Disenchantment, the latest animated series from Simpsons creator Matt Groening, which wears its love of British comedy and culture on its ruffle sleeve.

Launching on Netflix this week, the animated series centres around disgruntled drunken princess Bean, her personal demon Luci and determinedly cheerful elf Elfo. From the outset, the influence of British humour looms large, from Monty Python and the Holy Grail gags to appearances from more contemporary comics. Toast of London is one of Groening’s favourite shows, and its star Matt Berry is on board playing a piggish prince, while Boosh colleague Noel Fielding also pops up as a jobsworth executioner.

If the Simpsons lived in medieval times, they might feel at home in the show’s setting of Dreamland. The crumbling kingdom ruled chaotically by Bean’s father King Zog has been compared to Trump’s America. But it could equally be Brexit-shaken Britain. At least we can still laugh about it…

Disenchantment’s showrunner and writer Josh Weinstein is a Simpsons veteran from the show’s golden age between the third and eighth seasons, a period widely considered not only to be the best period of that show, but the greatest run of any TV series ever made. Memorable episodes include Homer at the Bat, Mr Plow, Marge vs the Monorail and Who Shot Mr Burns?, while characters like Poochie, Hank Scorpio and Frank Grimes made a lasting impression. Weinstein tells us why Disenchantment will also go down in history…

In development

“Matt Groening has had this idea for about eight years. He has sketchbooks full of drawings and he came to me three years ago and said, are you interested in being involved? I grew up loving medieval history and legends and mythology so it rang the right bells for me. 

“Matt designed all the main characters but since this is a fantasy world we wanted to make the backgrounds look like rich storybook illustrations as opposed to the clean ones of The Simpsons and Futurama.

“We didn’t just want it to be a parody. We’re telling these deeper serialised stories, though each episode stands on its own. There have been so many fantasy novels and movies and TV shows, if we didn’t have interesting characters and stories ourselves it wouldn’t be worth doing.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gp_RnJcb8Ig

A family affair

“Bean, Elfo and Luci are supposed to be 18-20 years old – even though Luci might be 10,000 years old, he’s young for a demon. They are going into the world for the first time as adults.

“In any successful series, you want to follow a group of characters through life. The Simpsons is a family show, Futurama a workplace ensemble show, Disenchantment a coming-of-age show. There is a backdrop of fantasy and magic, but it’s really about these three main characters going into life as adults for the first time.”

The next generation

“I have an animation and writing theory: when I was growing up I just had cartoons like Bugs Bunny and Scooby Doo, which were fine, but they weren’t that funny or that intelligent. People now grew up watching The Simpsons and South Park, so much smarter and funnier than the shows I grew up with. They have evolved beyond people like Matt and me.

“Older writers always feel they have to undercut something emotional with a joke, whereas younger writers are not afraid to embrace emotions for what they are.

“In Disenchantment we have the same type of humour and writing that we’ve always done. However, alongside old Simpsons and Futurama writers, half the staff is under 30.”

The first series of Disenchantment launches on Netflix on August 17

Images: Netflix

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Rebus star Richard Rankin on TV reboots, defying his late dad's advice and getting his arse out
TV

Rebus star Richard Rankin on TV reboots, defying his late dad's advice and getting his arse out

Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith on friendship, TV and saying goodbye to Inside No 9
TV

Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith on friendship, TV and saying goodbye to Inside No 9

Doctor Who star Millie Gibson on hope for Ruby Sunday and lessons learned from 'magical' Ncuti Gatwa
TV

Doctor Who star Millie Gibson on hope for Ruby Sunday and lessons learned from 'magical' Ncuti Gatwa

Marge starts a union and fights for workers' rights in powerful new episode of The Simpsons
TV

Marge starts a union and fights for workers' rights in powerful new episode of The Simpsons

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know