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A demon princess cheerfully holding up a drawing. Image: Prime Video

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Hazbin Hotel is pure chaos — and it mostly works

There’s a lot to pack in 8 episodes, but it’s a zany romp

Petrana Radulovic is an entertainment reporter specializing in animation, fandom culture, theme parks, Disney, and young adult fantasy franchises.

The Hazbin Hotel fandom has been eagerly waiting for the show since Vivienne Medrano’s explosive YouTube pilot. Turns out making a very indulgent piece of art for yourself does spark for others, and VivziePop’s first pilot unleashed an inferno.

The show had a lot to cover in just eight episodes. But if you can keep up with everything going on, and don’t mind the plot being presented on a continuously spinning carousel of musical numbers and crude humor, Hazbin Hotel takes the crass adult animated comedy format and makes it something chaotically unique.

[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for Hazbin Hotel.]

A slim grey-skinned demon in a red suit, smiling through sharp, pointed yellow teeth, leans over a radio console. Image: Prime Video

Hazbin Hotel follows Charlie (Erika Henningsen), the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed princess of hell, who believes she can fix hell’s overpopulation problem by rehabilitating demons so that they can get into heaven. Otherwise, angels from heaven descend to brutally murder hell’s residents (and if you die in hell, you die forever). Only one person, her girlfriend Vaggie (Stephanie Beatriz), seems to believe in her mission.

There are only eight episodes in Hazbin Hotel’s first season, but there is a lot going on. There is a huge cast of characters, and every one of those characters has a deeper backstory and hidden motivations, which is deliciously intriguing. There’s Angel Dust (Roman Black), the born star and recovering addict who’s checked into the hotel mostly to get away from his abusive ex (who happens to be his boss). There’s Alastor the Radio Demon (Amir Talai), who speaks in an old-timey staticy voice and seems to be on Charlie’s side, though he might just be playing 5D chess with everyone. There’s Lucifer Morningstar (Jeremy Jordan), the ruler of hell, who is full of childhood whimsy despite a tense connection with his daughter and his wife’s mysterious disappearance. And that’s just the main players.

But in order to fit everything and tease every single one, they’re all only given brief glimpses. The show settles into one character and one aspect of the world, then immediately ricochets to the next thing. It’s understandable, given how much it needs to pack into eight episodes, but it does come off a little frenetic.

Charlie posing in front of the concierge desk at the Hazbin Hotel Image: Prime Video

This isn’t a huge deterrence, though, since the show’s overall tone is chaotic frenzy tied up with a musical bow. There’s a lot jam-packed into every frame, so the fact that there’s a lot jam-packed into every minute follows suit. The plot and character arcs are all wrapped up in a bunch of gratuitous swearing, edgy jokes, and also big musical numbers. The show might be edgy with its humor, but it never actually gets particularly graphic, mostly because all of the characters are infernal beings who don’t bleed or spill other bodily fluids the way humans do. All that noise does gel together, though more like a Eurodance rave than a symphony.

Hazbin Hotel has the threads and influence of crass shows like Family Guy and South Park in it, but like Rick and Morty and Harley Quinn, it’s also doing something extra, tying together an overarching story and a fascinating, bawdy world full of interesting characters. The final two episodes keep up with that hectic energy, spinning it all even bigger than before. There’s a big reveal in the sixth episode that Vaggie is actually an angel who was horrified by heaven’s extermination policies and chose to reside in hell. The seventh episode deals with this fallout, while also diving into how the residents of hell can defend themselves from the incoming extermination. There’s even more lore revealed about heaven, the angels, and the inner workings of the world. The last 10 minutes especially — with the big reveal that Charlie’s missing mom is (1) alive and (2) chilling in heaven and ignoring everyone — had me on the edge of my seat. It was a lot. It was great. It was one thing after another, a breathless collage of angel blood, big finale songs, and triumphant character moments. And also cum jokes — can’t forget the cum jokes. ❤️

All episodes of Hazbin Hotel are out on Prime Video now.