Review by Camden Ferrell
Independent media powerhouse, A24, has captivated audiences for a decade with their wide variety of original and imaginative content. Their new series, Hazbin Hotel, is their first expedition in the medium of animation. This Vivienne Medrano-created series was the result of a successful pilot that was released on YouTube in 2019. Despite some great songs and voice performances, this adult-animated series can suffer from its occasionally middling writing and lack of direction.
Charlie Morningstar is the princess of Hell. Unfortunately, Hell suffers from an overpopulation problem and as a result, Hell suffers an annual purge at the hands of Heaven’s angels. Charlie, looking to find a less violent way to resolve their overpopulation, aims to open a hotel with the goal of rehabilitating sinners to send them to Heaven. Admittedly, this is a unique and entertaining premise that has lots of potential for its theatrical antics and dark comedy.
The novelty of the premise fades eventually due to the writing being underwhelming. The jokes through this show are mostly adequate, but it can sometimes mistake vulgarity for humor. There’s plenty of wicked humor to be found in its premise, but these attempts don’t land as well as they could have. Even though the comedy can feel lazy at times, some of the more earnest moments of Charlie’s relationship with the rest of the characters are quite good.
The voice actors in this show are its saving grace. Led by Erika Hennignsen, this cast of characters come to life with so much energy that it can sometimes overcome its less than stellar writing. Stephanie Beatriz delivers a great performance as Charlie’s girlfriend Vaggie while Amir Talai, Blake Roman, Jeremy Jordan, and others excel as well. In addition to the regular voice acting, the musical numbers in this show are the strongest parts of the show. The songs are catchy, and the cast has some undeniably beautiful voices that bring these moments to life.
Despite the cast’s best ability, the show falters sometimes due to its meandering nature. Even though we’re introduced to Charlie’s plan from the start, the show just doesn’t operate with much immediacy. Certain tangents take up too much time in already brief episodes, and it feels like not nearly enough progress has been made through the first half of this season. In addition to this, the animation, while creative, can sometimes feel stilted and take away from the viewing experience.
Hazbin Hotel will certainly find a devout following, but everyone’s mileage may vary. Most will be able to enjoy this at least for its incredibly talented cast and great tunes. However, some may also want more from this unique premise and the potential it has for dark and devilish humor. It may not be my cup of tea, but I think everyone should at least give this show a decent chance to capture their heart.
Hazbin Hotel premieres on Amazon Prime on January 19. Five out of eight episodes have been reviewed.