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What the hell is 'Helluva Boss'?

Edited by dronon, Sonious as of Sun 31 Jul 2022 - 00:30
Your rating: None Average: 3.9 (12 votes)

Helluva BossKeeping up with Flayrah's decades-long tradition of not reviewing (or even covering) animated shows until well after it's necessary, let's discuss Helluva Boss, a show about the misadventures of four demons from Hell who work as assassins.

I'd say most of Flayrah's audience is well aware of Helluva Boss. It would have won the 2020 Ursa Major Award for Best Dramatic Series, but then Beastars had to be translated into English, so never mind. Flayrah has a piece on Beastars currently planned for 2023. Furthermore, Helluva Boss is free on YouTube, and unlike My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, that's actually on purpose.

Granted there's only one character who is truly furry, and that's Loona the Hellhound. To be fair, she is really furry. On e621, "loona_(vivzmind)" results in over 2000 hits, so that's not too bad. To be less fair, she has the smallest role of the four main characters, to the point where her entire appearance in the second episode consists of her screaming obscenities offscreen. And in the episode that features her for any extended period of time, she's magically disguised as a human for the majority of it.

That being said, I'm still going to recommend furries at least try the series, because it features interesting non-human (if not exactly furry) character design. It has pretty good animation for a free YouTube series, and although it's got a dark, cynical sense of humor, it balances that with a strong moral center. That last one may come as a surprise, seeing as how the premise of the show is that the characters' job is to kill people.

As of this writing, there are currently five episodes available to watch out of a planned season of eight, plus an additional "Pilot" episode. My recommendation is that you skip the pilot, and watch the series from the beginning of season one. The characterizations in the pilot just don't hold true. Blitzo (the "o" is silent, but voice actor Brandon Rogers is not), the titular "boss", is a bit more professional in the main series. Moxxie (voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz) is less adversarial; Loona (voiced by Erica Lindbeck) is more reliable; and Millie (voiced by Vivian Nixon in the main series, but by Lindbeck in the pilot) isn't a little brown-noser. However, I do recommend watching the pilot eventually, in a DVD bonus sort of way. Because while it may be low on plot and loose with characterization, it's basically a string of jokes, most of which are actually pretty funny.

For a series set in Hell, the characters are quickly established as surprisingly moral. For demons, anyway. As an example, the emotional core of the first episode is built around Moxxie's character, faced with a dilemma when the client's target for assassination is the mother of an all-American family. Moxxie actually works as the moral center of the series. He may be a demonic assassin, but he actually has scruples about his work, has a strong sense of fair play and justice, and furthermore is in a monogamous relationship with someone he loves.

The show in general has the characters respect that sort of relationship. Besides Moxxie and Millie obviously caring for each other, Loona also respects the boundaries of such a relationship. Blitzo, on the other hand, doesn't. His indiscretions with the owl-like Demon Prince Stolas (voiced by Bryce Pinkham), however, are explicitly shown to have unfortunate consequences for Stolas, and, by extension, himself.

This is not to say that even Blitzo has no sense of family obligations. Loona is his adopted daughter. The odd characterization of the pilot makes this adoption seem like it might be a "dog joke", but the actual series makes it clear that Blitzo's relationship with Loona, if odd, is pure on his end. And, while we're on the subject of Loona, despite her current position as "furry sex goddess", she comes off as fairly virginal for a demon. On one hand, she makes an effective honey trap in one episode. On the other hand, in that same episode, she's awkward around the one character to whom she's actually sexually attracted.

LoonaWell, enough about morality and ethics. I'm about to make this show sound like the spiritual successor to Veggie Tales. It's not. Rest assured, there is something in each episode you can find to offend you at some point. You won't even really have to look that hard. There is graphic violence, almost explicit sex, gross humor, horrific language and liberal politics.

The show is the creation of Vivienne "Vivziepop" Medrano, who has a history of using anthropomorphic animals in her work. Another of her productions did not have to compete with Beastars, so it actually won a 2020 Ursa Major. Her style definitely reminds me of Invader Zim. (Of course, Moxxie being voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz, who was also the voice of that show's titular character, helps make that connection a bit more obvious.) To steal a line from myself, Helluva Boss is Invader Zim discovering that he is no longer on TV, so he can say the f-word now (except I mean that in a positive way this time).

Helluva Boss is the sister series of (and shares a universe with) another Vivziepop production, Hazbin Hotel, which is just a pilot at the moment. Cult movie distributor A24 has picked it up with the aim of turning it into an actual (not just for free on YouTube) series. Which isn't to say Helluva Boss is a throwaway show. The most recent episode featured the voice of fan-favorite Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead, and the episode's ending strongly implied he will be a recurring character going forward. Of course, another Walking Dead alumnus, Steven Yeun, was recently nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the Best Picture nominated Minari. I mean, I'm sure Reedus is playing a snake demon on a YouTube series because he wants to, but maybe should've got your head bashed in when you had the chance, there, Norman.

My recommendation: go watch an episode. If it's not for you, click off to a cute cat video or whatever, you won't be out anything. You don't need a review to help you make a decision!

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 3 (5 votes)

It's an awesome show! I don't think there's been anything in it that came close to offending me. There are some bits that are not as good as others but the quality is extremely high almost everywhere (budget allowing). Given you touch on Loona's popularity in the fandom, I'm surprised you completely neglected to mention the little call out to... certain fans.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

Apparently it was the fans of Owl Lord Stolas and his daughter, Octavia, that got the person running that promotional blog thing to just basically tell them "Please stop, you are being gross."

Reminder this was someone basically RPing as demon from Hell.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

I guess you're talking about this deleted post, referenced by this one and maybe this one?

Seems there were a lot of those accounts. Still amused that Loona's outscored FLO at the UMAs.

Your rating: None Average: 2.5 (2 votes)

What? No. I have no idea what either of you are talking about. I don't even use Instagram or Reddit. I mean this, in the actual episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFuIRp4vehk

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 2 (2 votes)

Oh, yeah, I knew that scene, and that was the one you were talking about.

I don't do the Instagram stuff either; truth be told, I read about it on ... TVTropes trivia pages. (Hey, during the pandemic, I was going to edit some Oscar pages, and I learned you now have to sign up; they rejected my application to join! I don't know what that says about Flayrah's standards.) Apparently the "glare at the camera" scene was written before the character blogs were a thing, meaning the people on the show were aware and expecting people to create explicit "works" with the characters. They apparently didn't tell one of the bloggers, or something, and they couldn't take it.

On one hand, it's kind of funny because what the fuck did they expect? On the other hand, it's also kind of funny because, well, my original comment's joke.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

I don't know what they're looking at me for, I'm not much into Goth girls.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

In my honest (and obviously incorrect) opinion, there are no real out-of-character moments in the pilot. It has almost no plot, and that may be why it seems like it. But I did not see any inconsistencies. That, and Vivian would not do that to her characters anyway. She cares way too much and is creatively in charge.

Well, I'll be...

Your rating: None Average: 1.5 (2 votes)

Me and my friends have been big fans of this show and Hazbin for some time now.

Stolas is one of the best villains I've seen in some time. I hope he gets what's coming to him soon.

If I had to list TEN characters who would assassinate Stolas from Helluva Boss, they would be as follows:

1. IMP
2. Sallie May
3. Rainbow Dash
4. Ronald McDonald
5. Barack Obama
6. Vladimir Putin
7. Thanos
8. Uncle Ruckus

That's it.

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

As you said, you're a little late to this party, but so were a lot of other furries given that lewd Loona art didn't really even start to blow up all over the place until after episode 6 went up (best of the series). She seems to be the new Renamon at this point. The level of production quality and voice acting is incredible. It's as good or better than some syndicated series. It's not for kids, it doesn't pretend to be for kids. If you are offended by it, shut the hell up and simply don't watch it anymore. The rest of us will enjoy the cute murder imps and hellhound.

Your rating: None Average: 2 (4 votes)

Upon watching every episode released thus far, I find it particularly interesting that nobody has picked up on the deeper theme of rejecting normalcy as pathological. Reminds me of how in American Beauty the two straight families were pathological and the homosexual couple were in full self-acceptance. Here we have a similar situation.

Almost all of the villains of Helluva Boss and Hazbin Hotel represent facets of society which are normally deemed to be healthy, with a few notable exceptions. The show's protagonists are shown to engage in everything from perversion to adultery, however the show downplays this in favor of vilifying tenets of society such as the nuclear family, traditional marriage and masculinity. There's even an episode where the antagonists are literal angels.

Fans hate the character Katie Killjoy not only because she is more traditionally attractive than Charlie but also because she's averse to her lifestyle. Verosika Mayday and Striker strawmen of hetero-normative traits which are played off as "toxic" for the in-crowd. All the while Stella is played off as evil for not being enough like her narcissistic husband.

Whatever "strong moral center" the show was aiming for seems to have been derailed purely on the fact that it is explicitly anti-moral. To put it more simply, all the characters with moral centers are literally demonized!

Your rating: None Average: 2 (5 votes)

You're trying a bit too hard.

Okay, so I'm assuming you're the same troll who did the "I don't like Turning Red because Satanism" post; I mean, we just don't get a lot of comments about demons around here, actually. Maybe you're not, but, uh, don't lie. I don't know for sure, but Green Reaper does.

Anyway, while doing the SNL Church Lady bit with Turning Red is not bad (seemed to get Joe Strike's goat, so good on that), conservative fundamentalist Christians having problems with and conflating other religious practices and beliefs with Satan/Satanism using Turning Red is a decent comic observation, for a shitpost. However, it's a bit too obvious with Helluva Boss. The answer to "Could it be ... Satan!?!" is "Uh, duh."

Now, I'm assuming that the fundamentalist Christian attitude is at least slightly exaggerated, though the conservatism maybe less so, though it seems to be less a conservatism based less on any consistent ideology and more on "triggering the libs". Minor quibble with your Turning Red attack, but why in the Chip 'N Dale comment section? Like, the actual Turning Red review was off the front page, so go with the nearest Disney thing, but then you actually dig up this review which celebrated it's first birthday a little over a week ago. Assuming you just like Helluva Boss. Which, I mean, yeah, it's a deliberately offensive "edgy" humor animated show. Makes sense a troll would be into that.

Unfortunately, that really messes with your ability to really "trigger" us "libs", or whatever it is you're doing here. You seem to be trying to make some kind of argument about my notes on morality in the review (Thanks for actually reading it, by the way! Not necessary for a shitpost, but appreciated nonetheless!), but all ends up with, once again, the observation that the show about demons is about ... demons. I, too, noticed that. Your post ends up as both half-baked critical analysis, but also a half-assed shitpost, ironically, because there's just a bit too much sincerity in there.

Of course, that's assuming you are who I think you are. If I'm wrong, and this is not supposed to be any-portion-of-an-assed shitpost, and fully meant as critical analysis ... oh, dear.

Anyway, happy Pride Month!

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (4 votes)

Again, more pathologizing. You can't simply refute my point that the show promotes degeneracy, so you have to infer that I secretly like the show on some deeper level and can't bring myself to admit it. Its almost like how people would argue that Fred Phelps and WBC were secretly into the practices they preached against simply because they opposed them on, well, you know, an actual authentic reading of their own doctrine.

Well anyways, that's neither here nor there. Let's address your major points:

The conflation of heresy/false idols with the demonic is not a problem with Christians, it is rather only a problem for a culture/world which deems Christianity as inconvenient, like this one does. Just as homoeroticism is explicitly forbidden in The Bible, so too is the worship of other idols. Now if you're argument was "don't apply Christian theology to works which are explicitly Anti-Christian or of a different faith system", I'd more or less not see any issue. But you seem to argue that Christians themselves are delusional for condemning works which explicitly advocate for the love of flesh (My Panda my Choice) with Satanism. However, that could just be a misread of your comment on my part.

"You like Helluva Boss because its edgy" That's pretty astute of you. I would've never guessed that as someone who's in its purported age demographic would be more aware of its existence or even go so far as to watch every episode.

As for "of course its promoting Satanism its about demons", well that doesn't refute my point either. Its almost like we've had other cartoon shows which feature morally repugnant protagonists that don't try to excuse their behavior despite focusing on them. Clearly that Jhonen Vasquez guy is a genocidal warlord, he made INVADER ZIM!!!!

As for Helluva Boss, the criticism is fairly self-evident: the murder-demons are not just the focus, they are more or less placed as the "moral center", in your own words. There is nothing redeemable about adultery or being a weak pushover with an overbearing wife. Contrast that with the antagonists, who are shown to be that much more virtuous in every regard. The Cherubs, Martha's family, Stella and Striker all exhibit virtuous qualities which allude our protagonists. It might not be an issue if the takeaway of the audience was just "they're all terrible people", however that doesn't seem to be the case.

Your rating: None Average: 2.5 (2 votes)

Look, setting aside that arguing a point with you is meaningless as I have doubts this is in 100% good faith, I mean, you do get that Martha is also an adulterer. Like, not even symbolically, the episode pretty explicitly shows her fucking multiple dudes not her husband. Like, yes, Blitzo is also in an adulterous relationship, but I never said he was the moral center of the show; Moxie, in an explicitly monogamous relationship with no cheating, is who I claimed is the moral center. I don't think the show entirely condemns Stella or Striker, either, as they are explicitly in the same position as I.M.P. and their client in that first episode. Striker's kind of a dick to Moxie, though.

As far as C.H.E.R.U.B. is concerned (favorite episode, by the way), the entire episode is just a take on the ol' cartoon gag of the Lil angel and Lil devil on a character's shoulder blown out to life sized, with the joke being that we're, by the nature of the show, sympathetic to the devils, and also the morality and ethics of the action under discussion are way more nuanced and complicated than these six idiots can deal with. (Also, Millie accusing the sheep angel of "tits havin'" is amazing.)

I also have no desire to refute the promotion of degeneracy, because, once again, duh, but also, that's like, part of the appeal? Are you sure you watched the show?

Even if I'm "pathologizing" the Christian viewpoint (and, well, he don't know me too well, do he?), you could be accused of doing the same to non-Christian viewpoints.

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