Cartoons have transcended the traditional audience of kids. I recall the uproar among parent groups when The Simpsons premiered during my younger days. As I transitioned to college, South Park and Family Guy faced similar scrutiny for their adult-oriented content. Despite protests from moral watchdogs, these shows gained notoriety for their mature themes. Parental control over what entered households remained paramount, yet it seemed futile to persuade negligent parents through mere outcry or news broadcasts.

In the wake of these groundbreaking series, adult-animated shows have thrived. Newer series like Harley Quinn are pushing the limits of blood, gore and profanity on streaming platforms like Max, but if the parents of the late ’90s and early 2000s believed they’d seen the worst, they were mistaken.

Amazon Prime has recently added the former YouTube series, Hazbin Hotel, to its lineup. This animated musical follows Charlie Morningstar (Erika Henningsen), the daughter of Lucifer (Jeremy Jordan). In a densely populated Hell, Heaven initiates an annual purge, sending angelic exterminators led by Adam (Alex Brightman) to slaughter many of Hell’s residents.

In response, Charlie devises a plan to save souls by establishing a hotel where they can undergo rehabilitation, hoping to persuade Heaven to accept them once they are redeemed. With the assistance of a radio demon named Alistor (Amir Talai), her girlfriend, Vaggie (Stephanie Beatriz), and other recruited demons, Charlie endeavors to make her vision a reality, contingent upon Heaven’s cooperation.

If Hazbin Hotel had debuted in the ’90s, it would have likely sparked a massive outcry. The series amplifies elements typically deemed repugnant and repulsive to an extreme degree. Characters like Charlie and her father, Lucifer, are portrayed sympathetically, while Adam and his angels are depicted as arrogant, disdainful figures reveling in the extermination of Hell’s inhabitants.

Angel Dust (Blake Roman) is a demon seeking redemption, but is compelled by his master, Valentino (Joel Perez), to engage in pornographic acts against his will. Alistor also maintains a troubling master/slave dynamic with several demons he recruits to aid in the hotel’s operation. The show is saturated with blood, sex and violence, all presented in a visual style that could appeal to children. It’s safe to say that Hazbin Hotel would have likely faced censorship and been barred from airing in past decades.

Fortunately, we’re not living in those bygone eras. Hazbin Hotel first emerged in 2019 as a web series by Vivienne Medrano. Financed primarily through Patreon donations, it quickly garnered a dedicated following.

In 2020, A24, renowned for movie hits like Everything, Everywhere, All at Once, Uncut Gems and Hereditary, took notice and picked up the series. This collaboration led to Amazon Prime acquiring streaming rights for the show. With the first season currently available for streaming and a second season already in the works, the future looks promising for Medrano and her team.

Hazbin Hotel stands out as a well-crafted animated series with an impressive ensemble cast. Its art style is distinctive, featuring a unique approach. While it may not be universally acknowledged, there’s a discernible pattern wherein characters with darker tendencies are depicted with sharper angles in their features, whereas those with kinder dispositions are portrayed with softer, more rounded features. Additionally, demons often exhibit animalistic traits; for instance, Alistor resembles a deer and Husk takes on characteristics of a cat.

Despite delving into mature subject matter, the characters maintain a whimsical appearance reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons. This juxtaposition of bright, comical visuals with the exploration of adult themes creates a striking contrast that surprisingly complements Hazbin Hotel’s narrative. This aesthetic choice adds to the show’s appeal, contributing to its unique charm.

Hazbin Hotel is a must-see series, garnering five out of five stars. Vivienne Medrano’s vision of Hell is both charming and dark. The subject matters covered are done in a way to show why these people are in Hell, making their possible redemption stories all that more fulfilling. Hazbin Hotel is definitely not a kid’s show, no matter how cute and cuddly the characters appear. Still, its message of salvation is one that can be universally appreciated. Here’s to hoping Season 2 is just as awesome as the first.

Give it a chance and let Hazbin Hotel have your immortal soul.