Imagine Rick and Morty, but instead of soft science fiction, chaotic surrealism is complemented by images of modern demonology, and you have the premise of a Little Demon. Unfortunately, despite Dan Harmon joining the project, the new FXX show rarely, if ever, reflects the stellar script that makes his collaboration with Justin Roiland remarkable.
The Little Demon was created by Darcy Fowler, Seth Kirchner and Kieran Valla, longtime professionals in television and film with different careers. The main animation studio on the list is ShadowMachine, which has works such as Tuca in its catalog & Bertie and Bojack Horseman. The three creators, most of the main cast and Dan Harmon’s Harmonious Claptrap have an EP in the project.
The grand premiere of “Little Demon” includes the first two episodes of the six-part series. That’s enough to get a representative part of what’s going on in the show, but also enough to suggest that it might be less than the sum of its parts. The premise, fully set about five minutes into the first episode, shows Lisa DeVito’s volatile 13-year-old girl Chrissy discovering that she is the spawn of Satan. Her tough-talking single mother Laura, portrayed by Aubrey Plaza, acts as a demon slayer, constantly moving the family to keep the girl out of her father’s sight. When powers come to Chrissy, not too subtly synchronized with her first period, Satan, portrayed by Lisa’s real father Danny, informs her about her gloomy fatherhood and his plans for their relationship. Soon, Chrissy developed a classic scheme for visiting divorced parents, setting the format of a “typical school sitcom, but with demons” for the rest of the season.
The first episode sets the stage, the second allows the show to play with its ideas. Chrissy is strong, but she’s also reckless. One of the most interesting aspects of the characterization of the series is that it does not deal with the angel/devil with Chrissy’s parents. Both of them alternate between a good and a terrible influence on the young lady. Satan is cartoonishly evil, but first of all it manifests itself in fragmentary dialogues. Laura is both an over-competent demon slayer and a promiscuous inexperienced mother, desperately trying her best to establish a relationship with a child she can barely protect. The devil wants Chrissy to help him regain his strength, while Laura wants anything but to leave Chrissy in the middle. However, most of the larger-scale apocalyptic ideas will fade into the background compared to the journey of growing up Chrissy.
Little Demon is a simple show. His premise is simple, and his sense of humor is pretty standard. Rick and Morty are really the best point of comparison, from aesthetic to comedic style, it feels like it was created for Adult Swim fans. The reason he doesn’t reach the lofty heights of this show is almost entirely down to the script. It’s just not as funny as its competition. He tries and fails to somehow squeeze jokes out of the half-joking use of the Gen-Z turn of speech. It feels like the team thinks that the words “canceled” or “kill” are enough to make fun of themselves. There are very few jokes that sound with the precision necessary for the show to be remembered. It’s good for laughing through every couple of lines, but it constantly feels like stuff that thinks it’s funnier than it really is. However, the reach of the audience may vary. Viewers who will never get tired of the banal life in the suburbs, adjacent to horrific violence, or people who ambivalently do not sell existential nightmares, will find a lot of interesting things in “Little Demon”.
There are some great aspects of the show. The voice acting is stellar in all directions. Danny and Lisa DeVito easily immerse themselves in the caustic chemistry of a rebellious girl and her sarcastic father. Aubrey Plaza shines in his role, bringing much-needed genuine pathos along with a great comedic moment. Lennon Parham is funny as a classic nosy neighbor like Agatha Harkness, but without the necessary subversion. Eugene Cordero also lights up the cast as Chrissy’s shy classmate, who quickly becomes her only friend. Oddly enough, the action is the culmination of the series. Laura’s fast witchcraft and amazing physical form make her dynamic in countless battle scenes of the series. It also reminds me of Rick and Morty, but this time the comparison does not serve as an insult.
“Little Demon” has a solid premise, a great cast, well-executed animation, and a sincere heart at the center. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do well enough to stand out in a crowded market. Let’s hope that in the upcoming four episodes, the show will find its place and demonstrate the strengths of its concept on the screen. In its current state, it is worth watching for fans of the genre, but it may not be remembered for a long time to tune in to the next episode.
“Little Demon” is already available on Hulu. The new episodes will premiere on the FXX channel on Thursday evening.