Amazon Prime’s “Hazbin Hotel” Puts the Sin in Sing

Vivienne Medrano and "Hazbin Hotel" side-by-side Still by Dia Dipasupil:GETTY Images. Courtesy Prime Video

The fight between Heaven and Hell is a well-known Biblical story, but Amazon Prime’s newest adult animated series, “Hazbin Hotel,” puts a darkly comic musical fantasy twist on this moral dichotomy.

Created by animator Vivienne Medrano, also known by her username Vivziepop, “Hazbin Hotel” follows Charlie Morningstar, voiced by Broadway star Erika Henningsen (“Les Misérables” “Mean Girls”), the princess of Hell, as she runs her Hazbin Hotel, which hopes to redeem the sinners of Hell so they can move up to Heaven.

Multiple forces strive to stop her: from the various Overlords of Hell, who wish to grow in power by keeping hellborn and sinners under their rule, to Heavens Angels and Exterminators, a group of angels who are trained to kill the residents of Hell, led by the “first man,” Adam, voiced by Alex Brightman (“Beetlejuice The Musical,” “Helluva Boss”). Not to mention, she must contend with dear old dad, Lucifer Morningstar, voiced by Jeremy Jordan (“Tangled: The Series,” “Death Note: The Musical”).

Medrano has been creating vibrant and musically creative animated series since 2011, starting with her first series, “ZooPhobia,” with animations based around her webcomic under the same name. After the series ended in 2016, she announced that she would be working on “Hazbin Hotel” alongside her work on various other projects, including an animated music video for the song “Die Young” by Kesha.

Medrano premiered the pilot episode of “Hazbin Hotel” in 2019 on her YouTube channel, animating much of it herself with help from freelance artists funded through her Patreon. This pilot episode set up the premise for the show, which was explored in more depth in the two webcomics that were released in October 27, 2019, through July 7, 2020, on the “Hazbin Hotel” website. One comic explained how the character of Angel Dust, voiced by Broadway star, Blake Roman (“Harmony,” “Weiner Police”), found the hotel. The other comic was on the daily life of fan-favorite character, Alastor, voiced by Amir Talai (“Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay,” “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness”).

There were changes made from the YouTube pilot to Amazon Prime’s series, but the encompassing plot and overall style have remained the same. This series is a unique, absurdly horrific, exploration of sins, redemption, and music that feels unlike any other animated series. The show has received criticism for its graphic sex scenes and depictions of sexual abuse, drug use and violence. The graphic imagery is meant to add dramatic tension to the compelling storyline and deep and complex characters.

While the show was being developed, Medrano kept fans excited about the series through shorter episodes of the side series, “Helluva Boss,” which focuses on the daily goings-on in Hell. Each of these mini episodes tell a fully unique and interesting story for viewers with intriguing side characters, appealing to fans who are invested in watching the fantasy world develop.

“Hazbin Hotel” relies heavily on an incredibly vibrant animation style, which makes each character and location unique. From the black-eyed washed colors of the 1910-styled cannibals who reside in Cannibal Town to the bright vivid neon colors of the Vee’s Overlords and their locations in Pentagram City.

The titular hotel is full of small intricate details, inviting viewers to explore those who reside inside.

To contrast the range of reds, blacks, yellow, and overly bright neon in Hell, Medrano made Heaven a stark white, which is highlighted in pastels, blues, and yellow.

Both Heaven and Hell are full of Biblical characters, including angels and demons with unique interpretations that pull from animals, insects and more.

“Hazbin Hotel” stands out mainly due to its incredible music. Fans of beloved Disney movies will hear familiar voices such as Keith David, who plays the Bartender Husk, who is well known as Dr. Facilier in “Princess and the Frog.” Charlie’s girlfriend and warrior for the Hotel is voiced by Stephanie Beatriz, who is known for her role as Mirabel Madrigal, the main character in “Encanto.”

Medrano revived the Angel Dusts musical number, “Addicted,” with some differences for the new series. The original song hit Apple iTunes Top Three Dance hits upon its release in 2020.

“Hazbin Hotel” is a creative re-imagining of the battle between Heaven and Hell that is devilishly entertaining. Season two of “Hazbin Hotel” has been announced and is currently in production. All eight episodes of season one are now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

“Hazbin Hotel’’ is rated TV-MA for drugs, sexual situations, abuse, violence and language.