“Other than Keith and Daphne, who we really couldn’t help thinking about as actors because their voices are SO iconic, we tried not to think about it in terms of actors, but in terms of characters,” says Haft. “It was always, ‘What does Adam sound like?’ instead of ‘What does Alex Brightman sound like?'” This character-first approach to the storytelling and musicality brings a level of fluidity often lost when shows incorporate musical numbers. “Hazbin Hotel” follows the time-honored tradition of using music to not only push the story forward but also give deeper insight into the characters’ interior lives, so by prioritizing what music lives in the heart of the character, the music becomes intrinsic to the world. “For season 2, we’re thinking a lot more about the cast,” says Haft, “as it feels like as a TV show goes on, actors and their roles tend to really grow together.”
With the denizens of Hell all coming from different time periods and being there for different behavior, their motivations feel completely unique from one another. Charlie’s girlfriend Vaggie (Beatriz) is a supportive partner because she shares the same vision, Angel Dust (Roman) wants to get involved because he’s working through his own demons (pun intended), and Alastor (Talai) is willing to help mostly out of amusement. This allows a variety of character dynamics to emerge naturally and turns Hell into a playground.
But don’t get it twisted: “Hazbin Hotel” is vulgar, mouthy, and definitively not for children. At first, the swearing and barrage of overt sexuality have a bit of an early-2000s edgelord streak, but that exterior slowly breaks down as the show carries on. It feels, at least to me, that “Hazbin Hotel” knows exactly what you think the show is going to be like, and presents it as a sleight of hand distraction while the real adult story is happening underneath.