Regular readers of this blog know about my feelings towards most adult cartoons. Violence in movies and sex on TV (or vice versa) is not enough to make a fully balanced animated diet; there needs to be more variety. I get bored. But occasionally, there will be something- a series, a short, a movie that actually does the concept justice.
Or at least makes it funny.
Helluva Boss is an animated YouTube series by Vivziepop, the creator of the popular Hazbin Hotel (which takes place in the same universe.) This series follows a group of minor demon-imp being and their hellhound as they murder people, for fun and profit. Well, mostly profit since their business, I.M.P (Immediate Murder Professionals), is basically there for dead souls to get revenge on those who are still alive.
Dead souls hire I.M.P. to kill people in the human world, usually for revenge. But the motive doesn’t matter. Shenanigans ensure.
The show features some surprisingly likable and sympathetic characters as well as some really awesome musical numbers. Which for me, is reason enough to keep watching.
Demons with Humanity
The biggest problem most adult cartoons have is that their characters are assholes with no redeeming qualities AND that the show mostly involves the characters being assholes to each other.
It’s boring. And I why should I watch a show when it’s clear that not even those in charge of making it seem to care about the characters?
But don’t get me wrong, the characters in Helluva Boss are assholes – they’re literally from Hell, so that’s not unexpected. But what makes them different, is that THEY do have feelings, fears, and opinions. The show has a heart.
Look at Millie and Moxxie – they’re completely in love with each other. Like head-over-heels relationship goals in love.
And the show displays that well.
In the pilot, Moxxie sings a ballad about how he loves watching Millie kill people – but it’s more about Millie than death. They kiss, snuggle, flirt and I can buy that these two are in a loving relationship with each other.
I’m not wondering why they’re married like Lois and Peter in Family Guy or why they’re still together. They have a good relationship.
And it’s funny they have a healthy relationship.
Because they’re demons. And you would think their affection would be more abusive, but no. It’s the same as ours. And I like that.
Blitzo is a bit harder to like since his assholery is much more apparent (and he is kind of a perv) but the show makes it clear there’s a lot more to him than sex and murder. He genuinely adores his adopted hellhound daughter, takes his work seriously, and is quite lonely. We’ve got some hints that his relationship with his family, his sister, in particular, isn’t great.
Even Stolas gets a lot of characterization. I absolutely hated his character in the first episode. I thought he was just going to be some creepy sex-daddy character who manipulated Blitzo for his gain…then BLAM! He’s actually a full-fledged being, who is stuck in a loveless marriage and cares deeply for his teenage daughter who has grown distant over the years.
The second episode, where this relationship is featured, is what drew me into the series. The pilot and the first episode didn’t do anything for me – but I’m glad I continued on the advice of a friend.
The opening number from “Loo Loo Land,” helped too.
The people responsible for the music on this show are seriously talented. Each song so far is in a completely different genre: pop, love ballad, commercial jingle…they’re all pretty catchy. I love it when shows try for a variety of genres. It keeps things interesting. The music is integrated into the show pretty well.
It isn’t a “true” musical as there’s only a song or two per episode. All the songs are diegetic – they’re not a musical world. For example, the song above, “You Will Be Okay,” is Stolas singing a lullaby to his daughter.
It doesn’t move the plot along. But it acts as a great bridge between time skips and has some beautiful visuals. It probably has the best and most beautiful animation in the entire series. So far.
Another good example of the music in the show is “Vacay to Bonetown.” This song from the third episode is just the character, Verosika singing the pop song in-universe. Sure, it’s a kind of succubus siren-call that gets all the humans riled up but it’s actually happening. I think it’s an interesting choice.
And it was just a lot of fun.
And honestly, it has been stuck in my head ever since I heard it. It’s legitimately a bop.
I could listen to it all day.
And I need anything to get Trisha Paytas’ horrid “I Love You Moses” out of my head. Thank hell for that.
It’s hard to talk about humor in reviews without giving away the jokes. So I will have to spoil some of them.
Like many other adult and teen-oriented comedies, this show is raunchy. What makes the raunchiness work is that it’s not reliant on unnecessary cutaway gags, racism, sexism, or just the fact that the characters are talking about sex or cursing.
Those on their own aren’t inherently funny. Shock humor is the worst form of humor. The show utilizes a lot of dark or black humor, which is hard to do properly. But it manages pretty well.
But the humor in this show is mostly about how the characters react.
These are already some crazy characters we have – but even for them, they’re put into these pretty crazy situations.
In the first episode, I.M.P. is sent to murder a woman -who Moxxie is hesitant to kill because she’s a mother. But then it’s revealed the family is all serial killers (even the kids) and they get bombed by the police. Now, that’s proper humor with inane escalation.
It’s all about crossing the line twice. A guy dying and wanting his business partner to be killed? Not funny.
Finding out that he wanted the guy to die knowing he would also go to Hell, so they could be business partners again? Funny.
A woman murdering her husband for having an affair? Not funny. Her doing it on camera in front of her bright-eyed and bushy-tailed elementary school students? Hilarious.
Blitzo getting sexually harassed by Stolas? Uncomfortable. Half of Stolas’ speech being bleep-censored? Fucking hilarious.
Children getting traumatized by theme park mascots and animatronics is always funny. Child demons being traumatized by scary animatronics? Fucking comedy gold.
There are jabs against the rich, about fakers and spring breakers – but they’re always punching up towards the rich, egotistical, or upper-class. That’s the important part about comedy. You only punch up. Never down.
And there’s humor in the relationships.
The humor in Moxxie and Millie’s relationship is that they’re demons, but they’re happily married. And also that nobody understands what Millie sees in her husband, who is kind of a dork.
Overall, I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would.
And while it isn’t my favorite webtoon, it’s still creative, funny and I find myself looking forward to new episodes. It’s not heavily plot-driven or with a lot of lore but it manages to keep itself interesting and making new jokes every time. It’s certainly worth a watch.
And that’s the scoop
Year of Release: 2019 (initial pilot) Series (2020)
Length: 5 episodes (including pilot) 11-17 minutes
Creator/Director: Vivienne Medrano
Writers: Vivienne Medrano, Brandon Rogers
If you liked this review read: Visit the unique world of Autodale, a dystopia like you’ve never seen before.
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