Hazbin Hotel checks into Amazon Prime for its debut season

Kicking off the new year last month Amazon Prime released the debut episodes of the long awaited adult animated comedy series Hazbin Hotel.  Since it's 2019 debut via a pilot being uploaded to YouTube, the niche franchise has garnered a cult following, leading to an acquisition from A24 in 2020. Since then development news had been sparce with only breadcrumbs of production updates here and there, but now the wait is over as all eight episodes are streaming on Amazon Prime video. The only question remaining is… was it worth the wait?
Hazbin Hotel -- Courtesy of Prime Video
Hazbin Hotel -- Courtesy of Prime Video / a

The creator of the show, Vivienne Medrano aka VivziePop (as she is known through her internet personality) has been known for her raunchy R-rated writing, her colorful and unique character designs and her sleek animation. All of these shine through in the final product, and make for some fun binge watching!

The series follows Charlie Morningstar, the princess of hell, as she sets out to find a way to rehabilitate the souls of sinners through her hotel and get them into heaven. Charlie and her band of misfit souls run into trouble when they realize Heaven isn't keen on the idea, with a yearly extermination of sinners souls on the way she and her crew must find a way to prove that hell isn't always the end and it's never too late to change.

My biggest gripe with the series lies within its writing, as so much of the script feels scrambled and messy. Character arcs that should probably be utilized longer and stretched across the season to marinate and simmer are wrapped up too quickly, while on the other hand smaller arcs take up far too much time and attention and would do better resolved within an episode or two. The overall script feels rushed, as if the studio gave them the expectation of this only lasting one season leaving the writers and cram everything in.

While a good portion of the shows R-rated dialogue and edgy humor has left many calling the show tasteless and immature, there are still some solid gags and comedic moments in each episode. Though I can't agree with the harsher critics in regards to the shows writing style, I can agree that it isn't as clever and slick with its adult humor as other shows of the genre. Whether these shortcomings are a result of studio meddling, a rushed script due to no promise of a season two or Medrano simply missing some marks is unclear, but I'm hopeful there will be a stark improvement come next season.

Hazbin Hotel
Hazbin Hotel -- Courtesy of Prime Video /

Through these glaring issues with the script there are still some silver linings. Despite an overly packed script each character has a moment or two to shine, usually with a catchy song included. The characters all share unique designs and eye popping color palettes, some standout examples of this being fan favorite Angel Dust and secondary antagonists Vox, Valentino and Velvet.

The voice acting for the characters also aids the series greatly, with exceptional voice performance from all the players, some of them voicing multiple characters. Some strong examples of the immaculate voice acting are Alex Brightman (Beetlejuice: The Musical) who plays both arrogant dude bro douchebag Adam as well as the laughably pathetic but endearing Sir Pentious. Another standout voice actor is the iconic Keith David (Princess and the Frog, Coraline) who gives an expectedly amazing performance, alongside Erika Henningsen who plays the lead Charlie Morningstar. Henningsen brings an optimistic and energized performance reminiscent of Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec, and overall bringing the heart to the series. Other amazing voice performances are Blake Roman as Angel Dust and Amir Talai as Alastor, both of which are growing fan favorites respectively.

Besides the strong voice acting ensemble, Hazbin Hotels biggest strong suite is in its musical aspect. The songs performed throughout the series are fun, clever, catchy and damn near Broadway worthy. Even for  guy such as myself who only enjoys a handful of musicals, many of the songs from the series have crept their way into my musical rotation. 

Overall Hazbin Hotel is a series that, despite some glaring flaws, is a binge-worthy watch packed with lovable characters, catchy songs and some funny moments. It's storyline is compellingly intriguing, with a wrap up that left me excited to hear the news of a season two. The saving graces of the series are its talented ensemble voice cast, exceptional showtunes, and unique and eyepopping character design.  With the series being an indie passion project that started off from a YouTube video and ended up on one of the biggest streaming services in the world, I hope this will start a trend of big studios giving a hand to independent creators with their original ideas.

What did you think of Hazbin Hotel? Let us know! If you enjoyed this review feel free to share it, and consider reading some of my other articles! For more horror content and commentary, you can find me via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Letterboxd!

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