Why Disenchanted works, a character study

Often when I’m talking about why a show works, I find myself pointing out one strength over and over. The stories I love the most are the ones with the best characters. 

That being said, instead of breaking down all of the reasons why Disenchantment season three works, I thought I’d focus on just this one element. 

We’re not going to go into all of the characters in this season. There was a lot, and most of them were good. We’re just going to look at the five main characters, and what made them so well written.

Elfo

Elfo was one of the most sickeningly nice characters for the first two seasons. The only nice one. And he got shit on, constantly. Bean took him for granted, Luci actively tortured him. And this season he’s just done with it.

Good for him.

But instead of handling this responsibly, Elfo’s lashing out in every and any direction. He’s looking for love in some self-destructive places. He’s having a hard time keeping his emotions under any kind of control. While this is obnoxious, it’s also realistic. People don’t have mature and level responses to things all the time, neither do elves. It makes Elfo a more realistic character that he’s being kind of an oversensitive prick this season.

Luci

Originally tasked with being Bean’s personal demon, Luci has decided that he doesn’t care to live his life for another. Even if he’s living his life to mess with another. He’s decided to branch out and take care of his needs. He bought a bar and seems to enjoy running it. That being said, he’s still around when his friends need him. Or when he wants to express his love for them by torturing them.

Luci also finds himself growing attached to King Zog in his illness, which we’ll discuss later. At first, he resents being treated like an emotional support pet for a crazy person. But in the end, he wants to be helpful. He wants to help take care of the people he cares about, despite his selfish instincts.

He’s still a demon, but he’s not a very good one. 

King Zog

Some hard stuff has happened to King Zog. Like really hard. His first wife tried to kill him, a couple of times. His second wife finally had enough of him and ran off to be a pirate. He was briefly in love with a bear. On top of that, his daughter is a rebellious handful, his closest advisors are plotting against him, and he was trapped alive in a coffin for a while.

Rather than just having him shrug all this off with a cliche ‘I’m getting too old for this shit’, he has a psychotic episode. He starts making weird quacking sounds, can’t make decisions. He’s scared of everything. He can’t feed himself.

This is kind of funny. But it’s also kind of what a realistic physic break might look like. I appreciated that. 

I also appreciated that, even though Zog’s a meathead and selfish, he’s ready to do what he needs to for his people. I don’t want to spoil things. So I’ll just say that he shows humility, and does something that we don’t see a lot of characters with power do.

He gives it up.

Queen Oona 

Queen Oona was the biggest surprise in this season. I wasn’t expecting to see her much. It kind of felt last season like they put her on a bus. Or in this case, a pirate ship. 

Instead, she comes in with her brand of support for Bean. She’s there when she’s needed, but she’s not there to take on the whole situation.

And it’s not for the sorts of reasons we usually see. She’s not leaving Bean to take care of things herself because Bean needs to be strong. She’s doing it because she’s got her own life to live. This is still her family, but she’s got her own thing going on. Her own badass pirate thing. The evolution of this character from a walking joke to a feminist badass has been really fun to watch. It’s an example of how you do character evolution well.

Bean

Finally, we get to the main character, Bean. 

Bean is what I would call a flawlessly flawed character. She drinks, she’s selfish, she’s a pain in everyone’s ass. I don’t know why anyone thought she needed a personal demon. She does well enough getting into trouble on her own. 

But it’s not just pain in the ass behavior with no purpose. Bean doesn’t want to care about anything, but she does. She isn’t just selfish and then starts caring about others. She seems as though she pretends not to care. She is trying to numb herself to a world she didn’t feel qualified or able to fix. When allowed to change things, to fight for things, she does it.

It’s amazing what someone can do when they think they might make a change. And what sort of debauchery they’ll get into when they care but feel helpless.

So what do you think? Have you seen the latest season of Disenchantment? Let us know in the comments. 

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