A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Disenchantment is an animated series from Simpsons creator Matt Groening about a princess (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) in a magical kingdom who rejects social expectations. Princess Bean is a strong, non-stereotypical character looking for an authentic life. But she's also a problem drinker who uses alcohol to suppress her feelings and frequently turns to violence to realize her goals, like when she tries to tempt a prince into throwing himself off a ship to his death. In fact, violence is surprisingly intense and frequent, though it's played for laughs: Characters fall off cliffs and are dispatched by poisons; they are stabbed, clapped into a cage, and drained of blood. (Everyone's OK in the next scene, of course.) Sexual content is less problematic, though there are rude jokes, like one in which a man has sex with seals he mistakes for mermaids. Characters drink at parties and dinners, sometimes getting sloppy, and a main character frequently smokes cigarettes. Language is mild: "hell," "damn," "dong."
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What's the story?
Once upon a time, in the faraway kingdom of Dreamland, little Princess Bean was born to King Zog (voiced by John DiMaggio) and Queen Oona (Tress MacNeille) -- and though at first it seemed like they'd all live happily ever after, lately it's been a real DISENCHANTMENT. You see, Bean (Abbi Jacobson) isn't interested in living the typical princess life, marrying to make an alliance with a neighboring kingdom, and settling down to a life of popping out heirs. Instead, she embarks on a journey to find out what kind of life she does want to live, with her faithful companion Elfo (Nat Faxon) and her "personal demon" Luci (Eric Andre) by her side.
Is it any good?
It's beautifully animated, made by experienced craftspeople, and voiced by well-loved actors -- but Matt Groening's high-profile series seems to have forgotten to bring the funny. Viewers taking a gander hoping for Futurama's brilliantly subversive thigh-slappers or even wan latter-day Simpsons chuckles will have to content themselves with gags like one in which Bean cracks her head against medieval-era signs for Dreamland businesses ("Onion Julius," "One-Hour Tooth Removal") or a dungeon's torture chamber that brings the pain with a rack, a row of whips, and a book of golf jokes. Considering that Groening and company could have used Netflix's network standards-free format to really let loose and brew up some more adult humor, these cute yet predictable visual jokes are a tad disappointing.
The setups of each episode, too, run along classic sitcom lines: Bean gets a job! Bean throws a bachelor party! Bean throws a big party while her dad's out of town! It's not bad, per se -- there are talented writers and actors at work here. It's just a little disappointing, because the concept of the show -- a young woman born in a restrictive time finds ways to subvert society's expectations -- is fairly fresh. As it is, Disenchantment passes in a pleasant, but not really memorable, way, reading most of all as a valiant swing and a miss.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about who Disenchantment is designed to appeal to. Do you think the fact that it's animated gives it more "kid appeal" than a live-action show? Do you think people often assume that anything animated is OK for younger viewers?
Does the amount of violence in the show surprise you? Is it meant to be scary, funny, ironic? Do you think the show succeeds in its aims with violent content? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love animated comedy
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