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A show five years in the making: a “Hazbin Hotel” review

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Laken Kincaid reviews the new show “Hazbin Hotel” following its recent release.

On Oct. 28, 2019, passive YouTube scrollers and cartoon fanatics alike were treated to a small taste of a world constructed on the pillars of sin and morbid curiosity. Within roughly 30 minutes, audiences were engrossed in a story of potentially senseless hope and the dichotomy of good and evil told through two-dimensional design. Needless to say, viewers were hooked.

However, they would have to wait four and a half years for the plot they observed to continue to unfold, this time with a large studio budget and an all-star cast. On Jan. 18, 2024, the now trending “Hazbin Hotel” returned to the silver screen on Amazon Prime and has since held the media in a chokehold. Frankly, this large presence is well deserved.

For those who have not seen the whims of Lucifer’s daughter on their TikTok For You pages, the story of “Hazbin Hotel” follows that of Charlie Morningstar, the child of Satan himself. A strong-willed dreamer, Charlie resides in the fifth circle of Hell and strives to redeem the sinners around her so that they may escape extermination. She is accompanied by multiple characters on this journey, each of whom have their own vices and virtues that make them both admirable and relatable. 

Although this show has only aired one season thus far, the pilot episodes have created what could be the foundations of an empire. So as not to spoil the plot, the tale is enough to make even a demon cry. It presents times of love and loss all while still feeling tangible to those who are tuned in. Albeit a storyline alone cannot form a masterpiece, a myriad of elements had to play out just right for this cartoon to have the impact that it does.

One example of these strengths is the aforementioned loveable personalities that we watch grow alongside Charlie. From her girlfriend Vaggie who is hardened by the chaos she has witnessed to an adult film star struggling with his own self-worth named Angel Dust, there is no shortage of intriguing identities for the audience to fawn over. No matter your past, present or future, there is definitely a persona that you can relate to.

Another area where the show succeeds is its star-studded, Broadway-esque soundtrack. With the vocal talents of Alex Brightman, Jeremy Jordan, Erika Henningsen and others, there is not a single skip on the “Hazbin Hotel” discography. While the collection traverses genre norms with hard rock features and power ballads about fatherly love, the only common theme is the talent that is palpable with every note. While this could be disorienting for those only listening in on Spotify, for those who watch the show, the tracks fall perfectly into the plot and bolster every scene that they’re in.

Lastly, “Hazbin Hotel” launched a new frontier for queer representation, especially regarding cartoons. According to creator Vivienne Medrano, only one character on screen is canonically heterosexual with the other devilishly fun personalities falling anywhere from pansexual to aromantic and asexual. These depictions not only highlight members of the LGBTQ+ community, but they illustrate the normalcy behind being gay. Charlie and Vaggie’s relationship is not a big sexuality reveal, it is just a fact of life.

Whether you are a die-hard fan of cartoons or new to the animation genre, “Hazbin Hotel” provides a well thought out commentary on religion all while being humorous and insightful. If you want to re-engineer your own ideologies, this is the show for you. But warning, once you visit Hell, this state of mind is forever. 

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About the Contributor
Laken Kincaid
Laken Kincaid, Editor-in-Chief
Laken Kincaid is the Editor-in-Chief for The Carroll News from Beckley, West Virginia. They are a senior at John Carroll University who is double majoring in political science and communications (digital media) and minoring in leadership development. Laken has written for The Carroll News since the start of their freshman year and has previously served as a staff reporter, campus section editor and managing editor of the paper. They have received 18 Best of SNO awards, a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for Region 4 and two honorable mentions from the College Media Association. They have also been recognized by universities like Georgetown for their investigative reports. Additionally, they also write political satire for The Hilltop Show and feature stories on global poverty for The Borgen Project. In addition to their involvement with The Carroll News, Laken is involved with the Kappa Delta sorority, the speech and debate team, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Improv club and other organizations. They also serve as the news director for WJCU 88.7, John Carroll's own radio station, and as the president for John Carroll's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.  Laken also started their own national nonprofit organization known as Art with the Elderly which they have won the President's Volunteer Service Award and the Humanity Rising Award for. When not writing, Laken can be found doing graphic design for their internship with Union Home Mortgage or working as a resident assistant and peer learning facilitator on campus. Laken also enjoys skiing and watching true crime documentaries. In the future, Laken hopes to become a political journalist for a national news organization or to be a campaign commercial editor for politicians. To contact Laken, email them at [email protected].

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