“Helluva Boss”: An Indie Animation With Morbid Humor

Moxxie, Millie, Blitzo, and Loona prepare to fight humans in episode 6
Moxxie, Millie, Blitzo, and Loona prepare to fight humans in the most recent episode (Screengrab: Helluva Boss)

What if demons were contracted by other demons to assassinate “bad” humans? That’s what Helluva Boss, a mature animated web series, is all about. While the series is bloody at times, it also has a tenor of morbid humor and is unlike any other animated series, indie or mainstream, that has ever been created or has appeared on any platform.

Helluva Boss is the creation of Vivienne “VivziePop” Medrano, a bisexual independent animator of Salvadoran descent, who is also known for her musical show about queer demons, Hazbin Hotel, which was picked up as full series order by A24 in August 2020. It is known for edgy humor, a unique animation style, catchy musical numbers, and voice acting. Like Hazbin Hotel, the Helluva Boss animated series is also full of LGBTQ+ characters.

Members of I.M.P. in the pilot of Helluva Boss
Members of I.M.P. in the Helluva Boss pilot

The series centers around Immediate Murder Professionals (I.M.P.), an assassination company headquartered in Hell, headed by Blitzo (voiced by Brandon Rogers), and includes Moxxie (voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz), the weapons expert, Loona (voiced by Erica Lindbeck), the hellhound receptionist, and Millie (voiced by Vivian Nixon), an extrovert married to Moxxie. They are able to use a book from the Prince of Hell, Stolas (voiced by Bryce Pinkham), to visit the human world and kill humans on Earth to settle the “business” of residents in Hell. According to Medrano, while Hazbin Hotel is about redemption, Helluva Boss follows societies and characters already in Hell, with a focus on interpersonal relationships, and both series often don’t overlap even though they are set in the same universe.

Helluva Boss has four LGBTQ characters (or even more if you talk to fans), most of which are in the main cast. Blitzo, who has slept with Stolas, is pansexual, and his voice actor, Rogers, is openly gay. Another protagonist, Moxxie, is bisexual, as Medrano confirmed on Bi Visibility Day last year, and Stolas is queer (possibly gay or bisexual). His relationship with Blitzo is complicated as he is married to to a demon named Stella (voiced by Georgina Leahy), and has a daughter named Octavia (voiced by Barrett Wilbert Weed). Stolas and Blitzo both seem to have feelings for each other, but Blitzo’s unsure of what Stolas thinks of him.

Part of the show’s appeal is its LGBTQ characters and interpersonal relationships. Helluva Boss promises to elevate queer narratives and stories, as much, if not more than shows such as The Owl House or OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes. Although Helluva Boss is more mature than both of those all-ages animated series, it also features themes of family camaraderie and having a chosen family. It also has a talented cast, which includes (apart from those previously mentioned) Norman Reedus, Cristina Vee, James Monroe Iglehart, Mara Wilson, Jinkx Monsoon, Erica Luttrell, and Medrano herself.

Most recently, the series featured Sallie May, a trans woman and Millie’s sister. She is voiced by Morgana Ignis, who is also a trans woman. Although she is not as prominent a character as May Marigold in RWBY, voiced by trans female actress Kdin Jenzen, it is still great to see more trans representation in animation. Such representation will be expanded this fall when Barney, a trans man, debuts in DeadEndia, as well as when Lumberjanes drops on HBO Max, a series with a trans woman named Jo (one of the central characters). Hopefully, Sallie May returns in future episodes, and isn’t a one-off character like Jewelstar in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power or Zadie from Danger & Eggs, to give two examples.

Sallie May talks with Millie and Moxxie
Sallie May talks with Millie and Moxxie in episode 5

Helluva Boss, well-known in the indie animation space, has garnered over 100 million views on YouTube. It is created by Medrano’s company, Spindlehorse Toons, which also worked on Hazbin Hotel and the animated adaption of Medrano’s webcomic, ZooPhobia Bad Luck Jack, among other projects. The show’s reach is evident by the fact that those who previously worked on the show, and on Hazbin Hotel, have begun their own animations, currently in development, like two horror and black comedies, Satina and Far-Fetched.

Last year, episodes of Helluva Boss were nominated for an Ursa Major Award in the Best Dramatic Series category, which awards works, whether literature, television, or whatnot, that fall within the furry fandom. Although some may eschew Helluva Boss for its sexual themes, strong language, or graphic violence, I would argue that it is one of the best series currently airing, whether one considers it better than Hazbin Hotel or not, especially when it comes to animated series.

Furthermore, music is such an important part of the show that Medrano even teamed up with a company so actors could be cast and recorded for their singing! Medrano has said that she is influenced by musicals and music numbers, citing Disney films as one of the influences. Although the series has eight episodes in its first season, Medrano has described it as part of a “much grander season.”

With Helluva Boss currently on hiatus, now is the time to watch all of the show’s episodes on Medrano’s YouTube channel, including the original pilot and the six episodes from the first season, before the next episode drops, likely to much fanfare.

Author: Burkely Hermann

Burkely is an indexer of declassified documents by day and a fan fic writer by night. He recently earned a MLIS with a concentration in Digital Curation from the University of Maryland. He currently voraciously watches animated series and reads too many webcomics to count on Webtoon. He loves swimming, hiking, and searching his family roots in his spare time.

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