Set in the medieval kingdom of Dreamland, this is the first Groening animated series to feature a female lead, Princess Bean (as voiced by Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson), a hard-drinking, gambling heiress who has no interest in her arranged marriage. She teams up with her assigned cursed demon, Luci (Eric Andre), and an elf, Elfo (Nat Faxon), who rejects his chirpy people to see the world outside of their candy-filled domain.
At the Disenchantment Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour panel, Abbi said, “Bean is such an anti-stereotypical princess. She’s flawed and gets f-ed up, but has so much heart. It’s so relatable. And they let me use my own voice so in the booth, I found how excited she could get, or how low she could get. I also love to play insecure and they let me play to that a lot. Plus, the fact that she also happens to be a young woman is pretty good.”
Co-showrunner Josh Weinstein described the show’s underlying theme as a coming of age story. “It’s all about Elfo, Bean, and Luci coming into their own. They are all in their 20’s and trying to find their way.”
Creator Matt Groening said the idea came from character sketches he’s been crafting for years. “I’ve loved fantasy storytelling since I was a kid. From Rocky and Bullwinkle’s Fractured Fairytales to Monty Python and the Holy Grail up to now. I keep sketchbooks full of fantastic characters I couldn’t do on The Simpsons. I filled up an entire sketchbook full of imps, gnomes, and ogres.” All of which Groening and Weinstein said would populate the series over the 20-episodes, and hopefully into future seasons.
“This is seriously serialized over the first ten, and then second ten episodes,” Weinstein explained. “We know how it ends so to tell a canonical story is great and challenging. We constantly had to cut story and jokes on The Simpsons to make 21 minutes. Now [on Netflix], we are allowed to write the stories to what we need.”
Groening added, “The Simpsons is a very high-velocity comedy due to time. In this show, we are allowed to let it breathe more which is very gratifying. It’s fun to withhold the jokes here and there. We also wrote a drama and then added the jokes. When we got the actors, like Abbi to do Bean, Eric to do Luci and then Nat Faxon to do Elfo, we knew we had a show just based on their voices. The rest of the voice actors are from Futurama, like John DiMaggio, Billy West, Maurice LaMarche and Tress MacNeille. And then English actors like Matt Berry, Rich Fulcher and, Noel Fielding. These are all actors with their own careers so you just try to write for them funny words they can say, but then they kick it to another level. Basically, what Josh and I have tried to do is surround ourselves with the best writers, animators from Rough Draft and musicians, like Mike Mothersbaugh from Devo.”
The first 10-episodes of Disenchantment drop on Netflix August 17.