Thoughts on Disenchantment, Nano

29 Nov

So much for my better start. I’ve been at 35k since Monday and I haven’t had a chance to get much writing done at work or when I’m at home. We had a new drug protocol that Clinical wanted us to get on before December, so between that and just a busy few days I haven’t had a heck of a lot of downtime. So my new goal is to hit 40k by month end, but if we’re dead at work and I don’t goof off, it’s possible to hit the 50k. Down to the wire, but doable.

The project isn’t taking off as nicely as I would have liked, and I think a big part of it is once again it’s how busy I am. I typically find I get a lot of new ideas when I’m off walking or doing more monotonous work, but I’ve been reading more technical stuff and my down time has included some quantum mechanics lectures, so rather than me dreaming about what it means I’m trying to wrap my head around what I’m being told.

Didn’t stop me from watching Disenchantment. Rest of this will be about the show.

I honestly didn’t care much for King of the Hill or Futurama when they came out, but Futurama is honestly now one of my all-time favorite shows. I don’t watch the current Simpsons but it the earlier seasons were a staple after school when I was making supper for my family. My mom didn’t want me to watch it but I did anyway. I don’t watch much tv nowadays, but one of the regulars who have been acting as my partners put it on Netflix, and I was happy. I knew the art style, I recognized the names of people behind it (and who doesn’t like to hear familiar voice actors?) and I for one typically enjoy fantasy as a genre.

It felt lazy. I reminded myself I was wrong before  – that it can take time to develop any series, and first impressions are often wrong. And as I watched the series progress, I liked the sense of humor more and more. The jokes and the timing got better, but I kept thinking of humorous fantasy. It’s been done, whether it’s Fractured Fairy Tales, Discworld, or Shrek. Was I being too fussy? Was it not living up to my expectations of Futurama 2.0?

The more I think about it, it goes back to a book I read last year I think I’ll reread in December, called The Personal Heresy. In it, E.M.W. Tillyard and C.S. Lewis argue about expectation in genre. The blurb on the back is “A Vigorous Debate on the Role of the Writer’s Personality and Background in Literary Interpretation”. It got me thinking about how divisive The Last Jedi was (which I haven’t rewatched since I saw in theatres almost a year ago). In a nutshell, I’ve seen more reviews on it, and I’ll agree it felt less like a regular Star Wars movie and more like A Rian Johnson does Star Wars. The reason being, that there were questions and ideas set up in the first movie that were basically hand waived and a lot of people either ate it up or felt like they were betrayed.

I’ve said before that science fiction and fantasy are very large, encompassing genres. That means I can be the most technical, nigh tedious technical hard science fiction, or a light Other Genre with the flavor of fantasy. When I went to writer’s groups, it was with a variety of different “literary” and “genre” writers, and what they wanted to know varied from person to person. In short, because I want a character-driven story that details the struggles of survival on a planet, others are there because we want to witness a struggle and triumph from a more distant, but more mythical exposition. Neither of these are wrong; lots of writers are ‘influenced’ by landmark pieces such as Lord of the Rings, but they want to explore it in a different way. Epic Battles are enjoyable, but some people like things that are more homey. Some people want more political intreague. Some people hate that fantasy riff-raff and would prefer to talk history in which the work was inspired. In the post-modern movement, interpretations of the media are endless, but there remains the reality of what the writer intended, as well as what the audience has come to expect.

In other words, the original Fans of Star Wars are older now, and they think Star Wars is for them, and they might be okay with older characters and less shinanigans. Some fans remember it as part of their childhood, and assume Star Wars is for them. (I can’t even get into all the EU stuff, obviously that is meant for older, more specific fans). Others see Star Wars as a massive brand that they can utilize to push their political agendas. I can go on and on.

What does this have to do with the TV show Disenchantment? Well, we start off with the MC bean trying to get out of her arranged marriage. Basically every Disney Princess Plot plus some others, but the show’s cruder and made for Netflix, so the intended audience doesn’t mind the vulgarity. As the show progresses, what seems like was done quickly is fleshed out a little more. There’s a lot to establish quickly, tons of characters, and as the story starts to unfold, we learn this is not really about Bean finding herself, so much as exploration between the relationship between Bean and her father as we learn she’s partially responsible for the petrification of her mother. As a comedy… well, the jokes just don’t resound with me the way other jokes in the past have, although admittedly the last few episodes were funnier than the first few. Are they trying to play it safe? If so, Woke humor ruins everything. But as a fantasy story… it’s starting to work.

Maybe it’s the sign of the times, and the style of humor works for a demographic other than myself. I don’t expect anyone to cater a tv show to me, because I’ve admitted I put on more learning lectures and music on youtube then binge-watch. I think the show has potential and I’ll still put on old episodes of Fururama or The Simpsons and laugh and enjoy the writing, but this isn’t doing it for me. I’ll probably get around to watching Season 2 just to see if it ever picks up, but as for now, can’t say I’ll ever go back to season 1 just to get a chuckle or two.

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