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Helluva Boss

Entry updated 27 December 2021. Tagged: TV.

US animated webseries (2019-current). Spindle House. Created and directed by Vivienne Medrano. Written by Vivienne Medrano and Brandon Rogers. Voice cast includes Richard Horvitz, Erica Lindbeck, Vivian Nixon, Bryce Pinkham and Brandon Rogers. Eight 11- to 22-minute episodes (including the pilot). Colour.

Imps (see Supernatural Creatures) are on the lower rungs of society in Hell (see Eschatology); however one, Blitzo (Rogers), has set up a business. Should any of the damned still hold a grudge against someone on Earth, his company – I.M.P. (the Immediate Murder Professionals) – can be hired to assassinate them. Access to Earth is provided by a grimoire stolen from one of Hell's princes, Stolas (Pinkham), whose species (see Gods and Demons) resembles the secretary bird. Blitzo seduced Stolas, which left the latter infatuated and prepared to turn a blind eye to the theft, in return for sexual favours (see Sex) whose nature is left to the viewer's imagination, due to judicious bleeping. Blitzo's employees are the ill-tempered receptionist Loona (Lindbeck), a hellhound in her late-teens and his recently adopted daughter; imps Moxxie (Horvitz), the team's put-upon Weapons expert, and Millie (Nixon), a sweet-natured murderous psychopath. Moxxie and Millie are a devoted married couple; Blitzo treats them as part of his extended family, to Moxxie's annoyance.

Though the series starts off as violent and funny (see Humour) the third episode added emotional and character-driven storytelling. Stolas is in an unhappy marriage, with a teenaged daughter: the episode opens with a flashback of his comforting her as a child, taking her to a solar system whose planets are being swallowed by its Star, to provide the backdrop to his tender song. The episode then moves to the present: Stolas's relationship with Blitzo has ruined his (probably arranged) marriage, leaving his daughter with a fear of desertion; his attempts to reassure her go badly at first, but eventually he gets it right.

The stories mainly use supernatural and Horror tropes, though one has two Scientists on Earth building a Rejuvenation Machine; unfortunately they choose to forgo the normal procedures of testing their Inventions on the poor and try it themselves, failing to notice the switch is set to "old". One dies and bitterly hires I.M.P. to kill the now geriatric survivor.

On Earth, two agents of a vaguely defined secret organisation – spoofing of Men in Black (1997) and The X-Files (1993-2002; 2016-2018) might be detected – are aware both of Hell and of the I.M.P.'s visits. They kidnap Blitzo and Moxxie, submitting them to a hallucinogenic truth gas that causes a surreal dream sequence (see Absurdist SF). Loona and Millie rescue them; the quartet takes on dozens of the organisation's guards: though outnumbered they are helped by their opponents' choice of only using weapons from Japan's Edo period – because "the Edo period was bad-ass" – whilst they favour guns. Nonetheless they are eventually trapped, but are rescued by Stolas – the animation for his manifestation is unsettling – and depart. The two agents, though, are not entirely unhappy: their security camera footage means "nobody in corporate is ignoring this".

Helluva Boss is set in the same universe as Hazbin Hotel (2019); YouTube's pilot episode had over 42 million views by December 2021. Themes range from Hell's Politics and class system, to family and how our personalities are shaped by a fear of rejection. The series displays frequent and amusing bad taste, but also has heartwarming moments as well as gore, foul language, gross sexual references and the occasional catchy song. [SP]

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