Can a show try too hard and not enough at the same time? That’s the case with Little Demon, an adult animated sitcom about a 13-year-old girl who discovers she’s the daughter of Satan. It’s a clever premise for a coming-of-age show — being a teenager is hard enough, why not add having Antichrist powers to the mix? — but Little Demon’s direction is too uneven to live up to its potential, relying too much on its “my dad is the devil” gimmick.
Not that it’s a bad gimmick. On occasion, the premise sets itself up for some pretty funny jokes. A particular standout is when 13-year-old Chrissy is forced to do a list of chores except they all have a demonic twist to them, such as chanting a spell to replenish the water supply and powering the house with a Raiju, a wolf with powers of lightning.
There’s no denying that Little Demon is having a ton of fun with its premise. Too much fun, if anything. There’s so much focus on the supernatural elements that the characters and stories get pushed to the side when they should be front and center.
Because of that, every character feels two-dimensional. Take Chrissy. She’s a bratty teen with a reckless attitude who uses her powers for pranks, giggles, and pissing off her mom and teachers. She’s also a shy, awkward high schooler who gets nervous and stammers around the popular kids, the ones she wants to think she’s cool. It’s not that these two personalities can’t work together but in Chrissy’s case, it’s more like she’s two separate people and the writers choose which one she is depending on which the plot needs her to be.
It doesn’t help either how unlikeable of a character she is. Yes, many coming-of-age stories feature immature kids who mature more as the story goes on, but Chrissy doesn’t take any personality change to heart. She’ll learn to appreciate her mom at the end of one episode and then episodes later, she’s being a brat to her mom again. She’ll apologize to her best friend for abandoning him to hang out with the popular kids and then episodes later, she’s back trying to get the awesome kids to think she’s awesome as well.
Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s how sitcoms work. Homer from The Simpsons is all sweet and sentimental to Bart in one episode, but in another, he’s wringing his neck.” Even so, Homer and Bart still have likeable traits that are consistently present throughout the show. Chrissy complains a lot and acts insensitive to everyone she meets whom she doesn’t consider cool. Who wants to see a character do that over and over again each week?
Chrissy’s mom, Laura, isn’t written any better either. If anything, she’s even flatter as a character because she’s just one personality type — a tough-as-nails, no-nonsense witch who hates the suburban lifestyle. There’s one laughable moment where she sees her daughter in danger and still makes the time to say a catchphrase before attacking the monsters in her home.
It was cool at first seeing her be such a fierce fighter, especially since she’s human and only started practicing witchcraft after giving birth to Chrissy, but the novelty quickly wears off once you realize she’s nothing else but that.
Then there’s Satan, who should be one of the most fun and interesting characters in the show but is instead portrayed more like a laid-back, carefree, regular guy. It’s a character we’ve seen over a dozen times, especially in adult comedies — think an evil Mr. Peanutbutter from BoJack Horseman, Archer from Archer, or Hank Scorpio from The Simpsons. Which is all well and good for those guys, but something of a disappointment when it comes to Man’s Enemy.
Satan doesn’t even use his diabolical powers all that much. It’s a shame when the monsters from Hell — ones who are often only there to be antagonists and rarely appear for more than a single episode — are much cooler and more interesting than Satan himself, who should by rights be the main attraction.
The last two episodes do try to give these characters considerably more depth, but by that point, it’s too little, too late — these characters have spent the majority of the season being cardboard cutouts. However, there is one saving grace to them, and that’s the voice acting. Aubrey Plaza and Danny and Lucy DeVito are all killing it as Laura, Satan, and Chrissy respectively.
Yes, these characters are uninteresting and one-note but they do occasionally say some humorous lines and when they do, the voice actors knock it out of the park. An especially good one is Chrissy talking to herself after a fight with her mom, going, “You banged the devil ’cause he’s the only one who would actually go there. Damn, that’s what I should’ve said to her.” Again, there are some really solid jokes here, along with some swell designs for the monsters and locations in Hell.
However, if you don’t mind the flat characters and only want to see the show for its humor or horror elements, this would still be a hard one to recommend. With its humor, only about half the jokes work — the other half are crude and immature jokes along with the occasional self-referential humor. A character goes, “Monster of the week!” when a monster shows up in their house. Another goes, “To perish by the very means I live by. Oh, the irony!” as he’s about to die.
There used to be a time when meta-humor worked more often than not, but this type of humor is so overused nowadays that a show or film has to be extremely clever to make these jokes land. Little Demon deciding to be self-aware at random times comes across as corny and desperate.
With its horror elements, Little Demon has blood, gore, animal corpses, nonchalant killing, creepy monsters, and humans exploding with their guts flying all over the place. In other words, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before if you’re a horror fan. The shock factor for these kinds of stuff died out a long time ago, but the show presents them like they’re still supposed to be surprising.
It’s so overdone sometimes that it’s exhausting, especially since the screen can often get so visually busy with gory stuff happening left and right. Even if you’re not all that familiar with the horror genre, the aspects are still sure to bore you by the third episode given how wildly present they are in the show.
Little Demon has great in it but as a whole, the show ends up being dull, mediocre, and worst of all, forgettable. If you’re going to make a show about being the teenage Antichrist, you better make sure people remember it. Unless it improves, Little Demon is destined to be seen by many as just another ignorable entry in the crowded adult animation genre.
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Little Demon wastes a solid premise with bland characters, juvenile humor, and over-the-top horror elements, although it occasionally shows glimpses of great writing.
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