‘Disenchantment’ Review (No Spoilers)

“Entertainment is just a tool that pacifies the masses and leads to the decay and ultimate collapse of the civilization. Let’s clap along!” -Luci (Eric Andre)

Look, here’s the hard and honest truth no one wants to accept.

Disenchantment. Is. Not. As. Bad. As. People. Say. It. Is.

Disenchantment

Sure, if you go in with expectations that it will be a Simpsons or Futurama clone that puts gags first and story after, then you’ll probably be disappointed. But that’s on you, and not the show. The show is fairly decent as its own thing. It is 100% plot driven, with jokes worked in there. The characters are interesting and compelling enough that you want to see what happens with their stories.

The story centers around the hard-drinking Princess Tiabeanie (“Bean” for short), an outcast Elf named Elfo, and a demon named Luci who has been sent to manipulate her. While the characters may at first seem one dimensional, they are further explored, and reveal new mysteries about themselves, as the series progresses. What appeared to be a simple fantasy tale with a Simpsons-y twist turns out to be far from what it seems. There are some dark moments, and some satisfying character development.

I’ll admit, I, myself, was extremely skeptical. I thought it was going to be utterly forgettable. The Simpsons took a sharp dip in quality after its “Golden Age,” and I found Futurama to be spotty in quality. (I think your enjoyment of Futurama is directly proportionate to how much you like Bender, and I found him annoying at best.) Maybe because I had low expectations and thought I’d tire after the first episode, I was greatly impressed and couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Keep in mind, though, it’s not a laugh fest, and it’s honestly not meant to be. The story comes first at all times, and the jokes are just there to add some spice. The writers work on building up the mysteries, conflicts, and plot twists, which keep you wondering at all times. You feel like you’re always on the verge of discovering something in this show, and I promise you, it does reward you for paying attention and remembering plot details, as certain elements return, further developed, later on in the series.

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These ten episodes do a good job of world building, making you hope for a season two, in order to further explore the possibilities lying within each new place. There are many different creatures and races introduced that are only briefly touched upon, who could hopefully be expanded upon in the future.

Mark Mothersbaugh provides the music, which gives the series a unique feel. It captures the excitement and zaniness of Disenchantment with gusto, giving the feel of a medieval festival full of drunken knights, peasants, and jesters. Mothersbaugh has always delivered quality soundtracks for his projects, and this is no exception.

The title Disenchantment really says it all, as the epic presents you with all the tropes and stereotypes of a classic fantasy and slowly strips away the conventions, twisting them into something worth your attention. It demystifies itself and manages to ground its fantastical characters enough to make them not too outrageous.

All the voice actors do well, but Eric Andre is a standout. His performance as Luci manages to be simultaneously maniacal and endearing. Overall, though, all the actors deserve a shout-out for the amount of characters they voiced, with just 18 voice actors portraying all the characters in the series. Of course former Groening collaborators at present, such as Billy West, Tress MacNeille, John DiMaggio, and Maurice LaMarche, and all do a top notch job as always.

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Overall, Disenchantment is fun, and its something uniquely its own. It’s not The Simpsons, and it’s not Futurama, and you shouldn’t expect it to be. It builds its own intriguing world, and presents you with new characters to follow in their quest to self-discovery. Every character has a purpose and potential to grow, and even if you’re not sold on them at the beginning, by the end, you will care about what’s at stake for all of them. Even if you have low expectations, and even if you end up not liking it, I very much recommend giving it a chance.

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The Simpsons: Lisa is the Villain in ‘Bart Sells His Soul’

The Golden Age of The Simpsons still holds up to this day, despite various modern controversies and some outdated stereotypes. The concepts and lessons contained within remain both compelling and hilarious. Lisa is one of my absolute favorite characters within the prodigious cast of the show. However, there is one episode I re-watched recently that made me re-think my opinions of the character.

In the Season 7 episode ‘Bart Sells His Soul,’ Bart and Milhouse get into a theological discussion (rather advanced for a pair of 10-year-olds) about the nature of the soul. Milhouse whole-heartedly believes in the concept of the soul as presented by organized religion, while Bart maintains that the soul is fake, made up by religion to manipulate the masses and make a profit off of tax-free donations. And he’s entitled to that opinion.

You know who’s not okay with that? Lisa.

While Lisa is generally portrayed as a liberal free-thinker, supporting the rights of the oppressed, her actions in this episode greatly contrast those character traits. Once she finds out that Bart sold his soul to Milhouse (it was actually just words written on a piece of paper), she is clearly disturbed by the fact that Bart doesn’t take the concept of the soul seriously. She presses her own agenda upon him repeatedly, and mocks him in front of their family for his beliefs.

Because she disagrees with Bart’s opinion, she ostracizes him, and uses a series of arbitrary coincidences to convince Bart that he has lost his soul. She even buys his soul when she finds it in the Android’s Dungeon comic book store, and then proceeds to withhold it from him. It is only after he goes through Hell, is missing all night, and comes home in a clearly broken state, that she concedes and returns his soul to him.

She takes advantage of his emotionally vulnerable state, and convinces him that all the trouble he endured was actually good, and was necessary for him to deserve his soul. She is basically using psychological torture to imprint Bart with her own beliefs, as many cults do in real life.This is very disturbing behavior for one of the most progressive characters in The Simpsons. Granted, the early days of the series have their problematic moments, and, whether or not you agree with these criticisms, it’s undeniable that society has come a long way in how we view women and minorities, putting these issues more under the microscope than ever. However, atheists and those with atheistic ideas (those who don’t believe in angels, heaven, or the soul, but may still believe in a higher power) are still one of the most distrusted groups in the United States. If this episode was made today, I’m sorry to say, I think Bart’s opinions would still be treated with scorn.

 

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