Little Demon Review: This Wild Animated Ride Is One Of 2022's Best

Growing up is never easy. It's been especially tricky for 13-year-old Chrissy (Lucy DeVito). She's never been able to put down roots and establish friends, as she's constantly on the move from place to place. Chrissy has never met her father who died when she was young, and her mom, Laura (Aubrey Plaza), has them jumping from one remote locale to the other. On her first day at yet another new school, Chrissy is feeling optimistic, having struck up a conversation, and friendship, with a sweet young boy named Bennigan (Eugene Cordero). If only Chrissy could stay long enough in her new surroundings, things might finally calm down.

The only problem for Chrissy is that this is "Little Demon," a fantastic and utterly bonkers show that never stops raising the stakes and the feeling of bloody, cacophonic delirium. Within moments of the first episode, Chrissy is bullied by some boys in the bathroom, attempting to humiliate her for getting her period. This is where things start to get weird. Chrissy gets extremely upset (as she should), but instead of just standing there crying or running away as you may expect, she massacres her bullies. Now, I don't mean she says something mean that would have you saying "Oh wow, what a massacre!" on Twitter. I mean her eyes turn black, and she slaughters them. Murders them. They're extremely, utterly dead.

This comes as a huge surprise to Chrissy, but things are only going to get crazier from here. The whole school and entire town start going crazy, and Chrissy's mom appears at school with some startling news: Chrissy is the antichrist. Turns out, her father isn't actually dead. He's just Satan. Yes, her father is literally Satan (a spirited Danny DeVito). This is the reason Chrissy and Laura have been constantly on the move — it's all been in an effort to escape the tracking efforts of the Devil. 

A bloody riotous romp

This all might sound a bit ridiculous, but that's because it is. Co-creators and co-writers Darcy Fowler, Kieran Valla, and Seth Kirschner know that what you're watching is absolutely wild, but what makes "Little Demon" so freaking awesome is the way it leans into the madness at every turn. It's equal parts crazy, disgusting, violent, and hysterical, which makes it one of the more unique offerings on television, which certainly isn't easy when you consider that countless shows are getting released each and every week.

Everything in "Little Demon" works because behind the chaos there's a very solid and familiar story about a young girl just trying to fit in, and two parents battling it out (often literally) for their child's affection. It's every bit as invested in genuine emotional arcs as it is embracing chaos, which is a fine line to tow, but the show pulls it off thanks to some fabulous writing and a go-for-broke attitude that's embraced in every moment.

A creative concept is one thing (and it's something "Little Demon" certainly has), but a show needs great characters to stand the test of time. Thankfully, "Little Demon" has them in spades. The supporting characters are rich. A particular standout is Darlene (Lennon Parham), Laura's oft-divorced new neighbor. Her kids left the house some time ago, and she's all on her own, so you better believe she's going to make Laura's business her own. Her down for whatever attitude is what makes her a comic delight, and one episode finds her teaming up with Laura for an odd-couple pairing that makes for an awful lot of laugh-out-loud moments.

While the supports help keep things running, it's the main characters that propel "Little Demon" to greatness. Chrissy is a lot of fun as she tries to gain a hold of her incredible demonic powers — there's an episode where she discovers the art of possession that deserves to be talked about for a long time. She also has some unexpectedly touching moments underneath the bloodshed as she struggles to connect with her new father while working out the kinks in her relationship with her mother. As Satan, DeVito is positively devilish, carefully balancing his outright undeniable evil with a genuine desire to forge a relationship with his kid.

The character that really makes "Little Demon" such a brilliant time is Aubrey Plaza's Laura. It doesn't take very long into the show for Laura to claim the title of television's most badass mom. She's surprisingly well versed in the demonic arts — or perhaps not so surprisingly, since a tryst with the devil is how this all got started. She's jacked, she's ferocious, she's got no time for nonsense, and most importantly she will do absolutely anything and everything to keep her daughter safe. Watching someone as steely and intense as Laura tries to adjust to the minutiae of suburban life is fascinating. It's an exciting character for Plaza, who is best known for her exceptional deadpan approach to take on something that utilizes aspects of deadpan but takes it up to 11. Plaza has been showing time and time again that she's one of our best working performers, and "Little Demon" is proof that she's also a world-class voice actress.

An outstanding animated series

What's most welcome about "Little Demon" is just how incredibly fun it all is. It never takes itself too seriously, but it also has a genuine emotional core to keep things oh so delicately grounded. That said, it fully leans into the ridiculous at all times. It's like the show creators really took the old adage of "Jump"/"How High" to a sensational new level. You might think you've seen it all, but then comes "Little Demon," which has a scene where a crowd chants "pee pee poo poo," rivers of blood cascade from their mouths, and it all works perfectly.

The animation here is uniformly outstanding. The team at ShadowMachine is firing on all cylinders with "Little Demon," making the gory and gruesome moments (which are very frequent) feel equally grotesque and hilarious. Everything just looks really lovely, and there's a lot of creative work going on when it comes to designing all the gnarly satanic worlds. A lot of the humor comes from the wickedly funny script, but there are tons of visual cues and gags that make every moment of the show a treat to absorb. Colors are vivid and character designs are unique, and "Little Demon" has its own distinct style.

Legitimate adult animation is always exciting. Animation regularly gets stereotyped as kids' stuff, but "Little Demon" is the kind of thing I'd encourage you to not watch with your little ones. It's gory, it's nasty, it's naked, it's foul, and it's unafraid to embrace the worst, which in turn makes it the best. There's a lot of stuff that would make Satan himself blush, but it's all done with so much heart that you'll be laughing through every minute. It may not be for the faint of heart, but it works like gangbusters if you're up for 2022's most chaotic show.

I watch an awful lot of film and television — it's part of the job. It's not always glamorous, of course, as wading through hundreds of hours of mediocre to downright bad stuff can get exhausting. "Little Demon" feels like a delicious tonic: it's miraculous, exciting, and never stops upping the ante in challenging the viewer, but also hitting some welcome familiar story beats in ways you wouldn't expect. What's best of all is I'm not sure there's anything quite like it on TV right now, which is all the more of a grand statement when you consider just how much freaking television there is. Don't miss it.

Little Demon premieres on August 25, 2022 on FXX with back-to-back episodes, streaming the next day on Hulu.