Review of Amazon Prime Video’s Hazbin Hotel
4 years ago, animator and cartoonist Vivienne Medrano (Vivziepop) premiered the pilot of Hazbin Hotel, a widely anticipated project that to date has almost 100 million views on Youtube. The pilot was praised for its unique premise, intricately stylistic animation, and characters that fans immediately flocked to.
Now, the Hazbin hype has resurfaced with the first season being picked up and produced by Bento Box and A24 and being distributed by Amazon. The first four episodes released on January 18 on Amazon Prime Video to massive success, being the most watched new animated series on prime globally.
The next four episodes were released on the streaming platform just a few weeks later, completing the season and generating buzz across the internet. As of today, Hazbin Hotel is currently the number topic trending on Tumblr and various videos about the show can be seen in the trending tab of Youtube.
So what is it about this adult-cartoon that had everyone talking and now that the first season is over what fans expect from season 2 which has been confirmed by Amazon Prime. A lot of Hazbin’s success can be attributed to the fact that it has something for everyone and isn’t afraid to display unabashed creativity.
The Youtube pilot introduced us to the horrific but vibrant world of Hell, bringing the tortuous firepit to life with blends of pinks, blacks, and reds instead of an endless orange agony. In the center of this colorfully modernized cesspool of sex, drugs, and murder is Charlie (Jill Harris, Elsie Lovelock), daughter of Lucifer and Lilith and the princess of Hell.
Though surrounded by despair and depravity at every corner, Charlie is far from a product of her environment. Her rosy red cheeks and cheery demeanor, coupled with her adulation for singing situates her as the the sorest thumb Hell’s occupants. Her relentless positivity allows her to concoct a plan that kicks off the show and brings our loveable characters together.
As a way to remedy the yearly extermination of Hell’s sinner’s souls at the hands of the angelic army of heaven, Charlie enlists the help of her feisty girlfriend Vaggie (Monica Franco) and pornstar Angel Dust (Michael Kovach) to start a hotel with the goal to rehabilitate sinners. Despite Charlie’s passion and idealistic vision for the future, the residents of Hell don’t take too kindly to the idea.
When hope seems to be dwindling, Alastor (Edward Bosco, Gabriel Brown), a powerful being known as the radio demon, arrives at the hotel’s doorstep offering his assistance. After brandishing his power whilst being attacked by erratic inventor Sir Pentious (Will Stamper), Alastor and the others retreat to the “Happy Hotel” which the demon renames the “Hazbin Hotel.”
The first episode of the Amazon series picks up a week after the pilot started with a major change being the voice cast now consisting of more recognizable broadway stars. A lot of fans of the Youtube pilot were angered and disappointed by this change as they felt it disregarded the former actors performances in favor of bigger names.
The new cast features Erika Henningsen as Charlie, Stepahnie Beatriz as Vaggie, Blake Roman as Angel Dust, and Amir Talai as Alastor among other talents such as Alex Brightman, Keith David, and Kimiko Glenn. The upset of fans is understandable but each voice actor breathes new life into these characters. Henningsen particularly brings such vitality to Charlie.
As the show unfolds, we’re introduced to new and old characters and more is revealed about the power imbalances between Heaven and Hell and the characters themselves. These captivating moments are illustrated by elaborate musical numbers ranging from power ballad duets, jazzy, rhythmic numbers, and pure pop showstoppers.
The chemistry between the characters is a defining component as well with many ship wars already emerging online. The character’s distinct and clever designs have also been the subject of discussion among fans and at the core of truly extraordinary fanart.
There’s just something about cartoons that inspire the most creative sides of ourselves, but not everyone is overjoyed by the popularity of Hazbin Hotel and not just because of the recasts. Some viewers have commented that the show relies too heavily on its musical numbers and is inundated with dirty humor that seems excessive even for an adult cartoon set in Hell.
Others have sustained an immense resentment for Vivziepop because of rumors and allegations that have resulted in controversies around the creator. These claims mainly fixate around former NSFW drawings and accusations of problematic comments, many of which have been debunked or disproven by internet users.
Regardless of how you feel about Vivziepop or her work, it’s unfair to label an entire series that showcases an array of talent and exhibits so much genuine passion as unworthy of your time. The artistry of Hazbin Hotel just can’t be ignored especially by those who are dying for a fresh animated musical comedy.
One glaring critique of Hazbin, mostly separate from its actual content, is due to the first season only containing eight episodes, the show feels pretty rushed. The eight episode treatment is common nowadays for many TV shows but with so much backstory and lore to be uncovered, the first season could’ve benefited from tighter pacing, or more episodes.
With the success of season 1 a longer most steadily paced season three could be following. Season two also might see a shortening of songs from two to one per episode since a lot of online discourse expressed that the abundance of songs were a turn off and took them out of the story.
A lot is to be anticipated in season two especially since the finale catalyzed major new plot points, and hinted at the appearance of long-awaited characters. Even though a lot of reveals were squeezed into season one there’s plenty more left up for speculation and the Hazbin fandom is already cooking up theories.
With a journey that initially started 4 years ago, Hazbin Hotel has only scratched the surface of what it can become. Audiences will just have to “stay tuned” to see what our devilishly debaucherous characters will get up to next.