All hell can and will break loose in FXX’s crazy new adult animated series Little Demon, which will bring its sizzling horror-humor to screen this Thursday (August 25). The show, which is created by Darcy Fowler, Seth Kirschner and Kieran Valla and produced by ShadowMachine, follows the R-rated adventures of Satan’s daughter and her reluctant mom as they try to live a normal life in Delaware. The sassy new series features the voices of Aubrey Plaza as Laura, Danny DeVito as Satan and Lucy DeVito as their daughter, Chrissy, and is also exec produced by Plaza, Dan Harmon and Jersey Films 2nd Avenue’s Jake, Lucy and Danny DeVito.
“The whole project started as an idea about a young woman with a cursed womb, and then we thought it would be more exciting to fast forward to her giving birth to the Antichrist and that Antichrist happened to be a girl,” says Fowler. “At first the Chrissy character was about five years old, but as we continued to develop, we kept aging her up and eventually found that making her a teenager was the most thematically rich territory to explore. We also loved this idea of a mother-daughter story and framing it in this sitcom-like setup, but with truly dark elements. Before this we had always worked on live-action shows but once we found the engine for this series, we knew it had to be animated.”
Kirschner adds, “We are all huge horror nerds and were looking to create something in the horror-comedy world with a strong female lead. We began with a slant on a Rosemary’s Baby type scenario, a woman with a cursed womb, and that eventually evolved into a story about a reluctant mother and her 13-year-old Antichrist daughter, attempting to live a normal life in the suburbs but constantly thwarted by evil forces, including Satan, who wants custody of his daughter’s soul. We found the themes of a mother-daughter relationship, the nightmare of puberty and the trials of a broken family all lent themselves super well to the horror genre.”
Development on the project began in 2017 and the pilot was greenlit in early 2020. “It feels like forever,” says Fowler. “We presented the seeds of the idea to Jake, Lucy and Danny DeVito and Aubrey Plaza about five years ago and somehow tricked them into coming on board, then we brought it to Dan Harmon and Steve Levy and tricked them to come on board, and then we brought it to FX and five years later we have a show! We are still pinching ourselves. Actually, when I think about it, five years isn’t that long development-wise compared to the absurd length of time development can sometimes take.”
The animation, which is split between the team at ShadowMachine, Atomic Cartoons and Red Door Animation, is done in Toon Boom Harmony. According to the exec producers, over a hundred people worked on the first season of the show, most of them remotely. “Some of our Zoom calls can be crazy,” says Fowler. “There are lots of little boxes — but they’re filled with wonderful people.”
When it comes to visual influences and artistic inspiration, the show creators mention a wide variety of sources, ranging from cartoon faves such as Rick and Morty and BoJack Horseman to horror classics like Suspiria! Kirschner tells us, “We find a lot of inspiration of style from horror films like Rosemary’s Baby, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the Evil Dead series and Jordan Peele, John Carpenter and Cronenberg films, as well as B horror movies and so much more. Miyazaki films are incredible and we occasionally find inspiration from them at points throughout the season. We also love and are inspired by the style of animated shows like Rick and Morty, Bob’s Burgers, The Simpsons and Over the Garden Wall.” Adds Valla, “We are also fans of big world building TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We aren’t afraid to go dark in this show, both content-wise and visually, and want to continue to push the limit of adult comedy animation in this regard.”
Fowler mentions that she loves that two strong women are at the heart of the series. “Laura, our mother, is a badass Emma Peel meets John Wick, a Wiccan warrior who can rip out someone’s throat like Patrick Swayze in Road House,” she says. “And then Chrissy, her daughter, is an awkward teen who just discovered she has robust demonic powers — in our show she goes from self-conscious girl to a force to be reckoned with. It’s been really satisfying and thrilling to break episodes with these two ladies at the center.”
“I love the spectrum of what we’re able to accomplish in comedy and horror,” notes Kirschner. “It’s great to have a playground of characters to explore the depths of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ and the wide area in between and overlapping. That we can take these characters to such heightened situations and make them relatable. I also love that we can have some genuine, heartfelt moments surrounded by some ridiculous and stupid humor.”
The showrunners point out that getting to know the characters and their particular situations was one of the toughest challenges of the first season. “Their wants and behaviors are what drive each episode, and the more we know what makes them tick the easier it is to break story,” says Fowler.
Of course, writing about Beelzebub and his family life also provides its own set of issues. “Satan, and anything that even mildly hints at something ‘biblical,’ is well known territory,” Kirschner points out. “It was our job to figure out what we wanted to see as inspiration from what people have been believing and/or reading for centuries, from all facets of religious and religious-adjacent texts, and what other parts we wanted to create entirely from scratch.”
Valla adds, “The biggest challenge on this show was balancing the construction of this massive universe with realms and religion while simultaneously grounding our stories in this very relatable situation of a custody battle and a strained mother-daughter relationship. Our show’s scope is also quite large, so producing all of these episodes in the time frame we had was a true undertaking as well.”
The creative team is excited about their new addition to the booming adult animation industry and hopes audiences will be entertained and hooked. Fowler says, “I hope people will come for the jokes and the gore and stay for the characters. Not just Chrissy, Laura and Satan, but Bennigan, Darlene, Erwin, Snake-with-Arms — it’s a freaky, special gang at the center of our show, and we’ve had a blast building a season around them.”
Kirschner agrees. “I hope people first and foremost think it’s fun, funny and ridiculous, and a great escape with us into these insane worlds and realms, but I also hope people feel the heart in this show and find some relatability with these really fun characters and stories.”
“The takeaway message is that the world is insane and full of horrors, but we still need to love and protect the ones closest to us,” concludes Valla. “We also want people to relate and empathize with our characters — especially Laura and Chrissy, a mother and daughter who are trying to adjust to their new normal amidst this tug of war with the Devil. Most of all, we invite our audience to escape into other realms with us for sensory overload and lots of laughter!”
And that sounds like some goodness even Satan would approve of.
Little Demon premieres August 25 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FXX. New episodes debut Thursdays on FXX and Fridays on Hulu.