Speaking as someone who has created two hit animated TV shows and is introducing his third series, Matt Groening has some advice to ensure a successful Hollywood pitch. “You can say, ‘It’s “The Simpsons” meets anything’ or ‘It’s anything meets “Game of Thrones,” ’ and you’ve got a deal.”
Groening was gently ribbing his new show, “Disenchantment,” which Netflix released on Friday. It certainly shares a satirical sensibility and a distinctive curvy cartoon style with “The Simpsons,” his enduring Fox comedy that starts its 30th season in September.
Like “GOT,” it takes place in a medieval realm of wizards and dragons, but it is more like a comic amalgam of fantasy franchises such as “Lord of the Rings” and the animated epics of Hayao Miyazaki, to name just two of its dozens of influences.
It is also Groening’s first show created for a streaming service — its initial 10 episodes can be consumed in a five-hour binge — as well as, consequently, his first to have a serialized narrative.
“I’ve been working for 30 years in sequential, weekly, prime-time animation,” Groening said. “To suddenly have a bunch of episodes that go up at the same time, you have to tell a big story. And it’s been really fun. However, it’s its own torture.”
Part of the challenge in creating “Disenchantment” has been attuning it to the tastes and pacing of contemporary television. For the past decade or so, he’d scribbled down ideas for the show: lineages of fictional royal families, lists of movies to emulate (“The Princess Bride,” “Jabberwocky”) and sketches of a goofy elf named Elfo that he said he’s been drawing since the fifth grade.
“By the way, every character I draw is based on what I drew in the fifth grade,” Groening said. “They all have the big, round eyes, little nose and big overbite.”
From these disparate data points, Groening has built “Disenchantment” into a series about the misadventures of a rebellious princess (voiced by Abbi Jacobson of “Broad City”), that aforementioned elf (Nat Faxon) and a mischievous demon (Eric Andre).
To construct and populate the show’s interconnected kingdoms, Groening had help from some trusted colleagues. Josh Weinstein, the showrunner of “Disenchantment,” was a showrunner at “The Simpsons” and a producer of Groening’s sci-fi follow-up, “Futurama.” The writing staff consists of about a dozen people, half of them “Simpsons” and “Futurama” veterans, and the rest from animated shows such as “Gravity Falls.”
“They haven’t heard of Mary Tyler Moore,” Groening said of these younger writers. “But I forgot to watch TV in the ’80s, so there’s an entire generation of references that have passed me by.”
Groening said his interest in creating “Disenchantment” and showing it on a nontraditional platform came simply from a desire “to see what it was like to go someplace else.”
But his colleagues suspect there is a bit more at stake for Groening, 64. “If I had created ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘Futurama,’ I might retire,” Weinstein said. “But he wants to be judged for what he’s doing now.”
Groening is working on a second 10-episode batch of “Disenchantment,” which Netflix will likely release next year. And he continues to contribute to “The Simpsons” — and is waiting to see how the Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of Fox might affect his best-known creation.
“I am dubious of ‘synergy,’ ” he said. “But boy, I’d love to see a Simpsonsland.”