It must be cautioned that Helluva Boss is a sister series to Hazbin Hotel. As such, it is not a family-friendly program in the slightest. It is primarily set in Hell and features a high amount of profanity, over-the-top violence, and awfully hefty sexual innuendos. But whereas Hazbin Hotel was already very strong as an adult-oriented show, Helluva Boss goes even further that it can be quite shocking. Any one who is sensitive or very uncomfortable with such mature content would do themselves a favor and steer clear. You have been warned.
The series follows the misadventures of the Immediate Murder Professionals (or I.M.P.), hellspawn imp assassains who specialize in killing living souls on Earth. The boss is fast-talking, self-absorbed Blitzo (the “o” is silent). Employed are neurotic pushover Moxxie and his wife, overly excitable Millie, along with Blitzo’s adopted daughter, hellhound receptionist Loona. Travel from Hell to Earth is accomplished using an ancient book stolen from aristocratic owl demon Stolas, who Blitzo must engage in sexual affairs with in order to keep the book.
Helluva Boss was a surprise in that the pilot was announced and released in 2019 just a month after Hazbin Hotel came out. It’s reasonable to believe that creator Vivienne Medrano, whose projects are funded primarily through her page on the subscription-based crowdfunding service Patreon, managed to raise more than enough money to quietly develop the short-form series. While Hazbin Hotel will be continuing on through A24, Medrano has been self producing Helluva Boss since Halloween 2020 with episodes released on an infrequent schedule.
It goes without saying just how spectacular the animation is. The unique and vibrant visual designs are beautifully detailed that one could easily pause often to appreciate how each frame looks. Though Helluva Boss is in the same universe as Hazbin Hotel, there are just enough differences between them for Helluva Boss to stand out on its own. This is probably due in large part to the characters venturing through Hell and Earth and how they could visually coexist between the two realms despite the contradicting styles and color schemes.
This is a testament to how good Medrano and her crew are at being able to produce such high quality work independently. In particular to the background artists, led by Sam Miller. Miller and her team paint some of the most gorgeous scenes and landscapes that they can definitely be admired without characters populating them. And even with the contrasting vibrancy between Hell and Earth, they synchronize with the characters so well that the sight of demons sitting in an emergency room lobby would not look as out of place as it would sound.
As of writing, the pilot and two episodes have aired. All have been crafted to ideally work in the short-form format and still present a pleasant amount of story and character development. Co-writing the show with Medrano is YouTube personality Brandon Rogers, known for skits that really push the limit on what adult humor he can get away with. The two have managed to edit everything together to tell coherent plots and go all out with shocking adult content in a surprisingly compatible manner so that one aspect does not clash with the other.
In addition to co-writing the show, Rogers also provides the voice of Blitzo. Those not familiar with Rogers may be taken aback at how he manages to develop a charming personality for someone vile who treats most everyone awfully and has little redeeming qualities. One of the biggest draws to the show has been the inclusion of renowned voice actor Richard Horvitz. Horvitz voices Moxxie as if Invader Zim was suddenly a straight man and would once in a while spew profanity, which is a joy to hear. He also happens to serve as the show’s voice director.
Vivian Nixon voices Millie with a Southern spunk that adds to how delightfully sweet the character is. In the pilot, Millie was voiced by Erica Lindbeck, who also voices Loona. As Loona, Lindbeck perfectly encapsulates the moody teenager who wants nothing to do with everyone and everything around her. And then there’s Stolas. Voiced in the pilot by Brock Baker, he is voiced in the series by Tony-nominated Broadway performer Bryce Pinkham with unabashed ecstasy that it is breathtaking even with how adult and mature the whole show is.
The casting of Pinkham further illustrates Medrano’s love for musical theater. What’s more, the series has given her the opportunity to cast Broadway talents in guest roles that sound like they were a hoot to voice. They include popular Tony-nominated performer Alex Brightman as Fizzarolli, a sentient animatronic very much in the vein of Beetlejuice, and Barrett Wilbert Weed as Stolas’ goth teenage daughter Octavia. Keen ears will be surprised to catch former child actress Mara Wilson as fallen teacher turned demon Mrs. Mayberry.
Even in short-form format, Helluva Boss manages to slip in songs and musical numbers. More often than not, they wonderfully enhance either story or character development depending on the episode. In the pilot, the “I.M.P. Jingle” neatly outlines the core concept of the show while the end credits “Oh Millie” is a sweet insight into Moxxie and Millie’s marriage. The second episode features a beautiful lullaby “You Will Be Okay” that shines a light on Stolas’ paternal side and a delightful anthem “Loo Loo Land” that summarizes the theme park of name.
As funny and impressive as it is with just how dark of the black adult humor Helluva Boss manages to get away with, I’m sure there will be some viewers who might find this to be concerning and even overwhelming. The series includes some of the strongest streams of profanity spoken, the showing of intercourse even with covering, some really graphic killings, and Stolas. Medrano and Rogers do an excellent job making sure they do not detract from good storytelling, but so much of what is said and displayed can be regarded as very disturbing.
Even more so than Hazbin Hotel, Helluva Boss is definitely not a family-friendly program. The level of adult content pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable to such a shocking degree that audiences sensitive to all of this should not consider watching it. Those who are willing to brave through the fires of Beelzebub, however, may find what happens to also be a fun little show featuring outstanding high quality animation, an eccentric cast of characters, and some really nice melodies. Being both wild and delightful makes it one helluva show.
Available on VOD through YouTube
Approx. 14 minutes
Created, Produced, and Directed by Vivienne Medrano