All teens are moody, and relationships between one of these prickly persons and their parents can often feel strained. But what if your father was Satan, as in the literal Devil, and you yourself were the freakin’ Antichrist? That’s the premise of the new no-holds-barred animated series Little Demon, which premieres August 25 on FXX.
Starring Danny DeVito as Satan and his real life daughter, Lucv, as Satan’s 13-year-old daughter, Chrissy, Little Demon follows Chrissy and her human mother, Laura (voiced by Aubrey Plaza), as they attempt to live a semi-ordinary life in Delaware in the wake of Chrissy discovering the truth about her dad and exactly who Mom’s ex is – and that she herself has demonic abilities. Of course, any sense of normalcy is interrupted as they are constantly invaded by monstrous forces, including Satan himself, who yearns to be a part of his daughter’s life, all while Chrissy learns just how devastating she can be.
Created and written by Darcy Fowler, Seth Kirschner and Kieran Valla, and executive produced by Dan Harmon (Rick & Morty, Community), Plaza, and both DeVitos, Little Demon aims to bring both gruesome horror and big time laughs to the screen. At San Diego Comic-Con, shortly before the first episode of Little Demon screened for a very appreciative crowd, the cast and creators sat down for a chat with Fandom to talk about pushing animated content boundaries, raising a demon child, and – naturally – if there was any good inside Danny DeVito’s Penguin from 1992’s Batman Returns.
Like Satan, Like Daughter
The idea of playing Satan and his antichrist offspring was instantly attractive to real life father and daughter Danny and Lucy DeVito. “I know Darcy [Fowler] and Seth [Kirschner] and Kieran [Valla] and they brought us the idea,” Lucy explained. “And I was like, ‘Well, Danny should be Satan and I’ll be the Antichrist. This is perfect! It makes sense. And then Aubrey, [you’ll be] my mom.’”
“It hit right at home for me,” Plaza shared. “I’ve known these guys also for a really long time. I’ve known Seth since I was 12 years old. And these guys since I was 18, 19, something like that. So yeah, we’re all like a family. But as far as the character, I relate to her a lot. She has bad taste in men.”
Plaza then added, with her trademark deadpan wit, “I didn’t want to play a mom but they said me you know, it’s time. It’s time for you to be a mom, so you’re just gonna have to visualize that role and begin bearing children. So that’s what I did.”
Plaza first played a parent back in the 2019 Child’s Play remake, putting her, almost accidentally, on the horror matriarch track. “I’m only gonna play mothers in the horror genre,” she joked. “I either want my child to try to kill me or I want demons to come after it and I want to protect my child from demons.”
Danny too was sold right away on the project. “When Lucy came to me with this idea that her friends brought to her, I said ‘this is a match!’ This is the part I was born to play. And you know, to be with Lucy in the show is just the greatest.”
“If you look at my career over the years, I’ve played quite a few shady characters,” Danny added, “but you know, all of them with good intentions, no matter what. I feel like as further and further and deeper and deeper as you go, you begin to come around the other side in the character and what we have here is the Nth degree of evil I can be.”
Even as Satan himself, DeVito said you could sowever find something positive to say about his approach to parenting, remarking, “You know that I mean the best for you [as a dad]. Always, you know that. So it goes without saying that I may be evil but I am YOUR evil.”
THE HORROR SHOW
As Darcy Fowler, pointed out, she and her fellow Little Demon creators are all horror fans, which led them to this concept. “We wanted to do something in that genre. We were thinking about Rosemary’s Baby a lot, so it started with the story of a woman and her cursed womb. And then she was pregnant with the Antichrist and then the Antichrist was born and then suddenly the Antichrist was a 13-year-old girl.” Once they struck upon Chrissy being 13, Fowler said they felt they were on the right course because, ‘There’s so much here with a mother/daughter relationship at that time. It’s lso right for the horror genre. You add Satan and you’ve got one great, f**ked up family!”
Dan Harmon was also intrigued by the mother/daughter relationship being explored via a horror-comedy. “When you obtain into animation comedy for adults, especially genre stuff, how often do we focus on the mother/daughter relationship, that axis?” he wondered. “And how often do we ask the question ‘Can a family be broken and then [still] functional?’ Does it always have to be dysfunctional if it’s broken, or Ozzie and Harriet with everybody together? Does it have to be a selection between that?’”
Harmon said that on top of that, “Everybody, male or female, at 13, always feels like… everything that they do is the most catastrophic thing. I like exploring that age and getting to do it in this big metaphor.”
“Plus,” Harmon added, “I’m working with the Penguin!”
Gore in the Family
Little Demon is most definitely an R-rated effort, featuring copious amounts of violence, gore and mayhem, super-dee-duper swear words, and also – yup – animated nudity. “We traditionally were working in the live-action space together before, which has a little more limitations in terms of where you can go, especially with big effects and gore,” Seth Kirschner (30 Rock, Stop the Bleeding!) said. “And we were really, really excited to be able to go all out with this show in that way. Because we love the juxtaposition between these real soft emotional moments sometimes between our characters, these intimate relationships that we’re establishing, but then juxtaposing it to this extreme viscera that we see quite often. So that was something we were really, really excited to do as we went into our first animated show together.”
“It’s so easy to explode individuals in animation!” Fowler laughed.
As co-creator Kieran Valla put it, “There is a severe graphic nature to it, but we love that we were able to continue to explore that but it’s not just for the sake of being gory. It actually does serve a purpose, showing the power that this 13 year old has right off the bat.”
“I got to do full frontal nudity for the first time,” Plaza slyly remarked, of a notable sequence featuring Laura in the show’s first episode. “I’m really excited about that. It only took an animated show, but yeah, we obtain to do it. We obtain to go crazy.”
Self-Care for Satan Mom and Penguin’s Plans for Gotham
It’s hard enough to raise a teenager who, you know, isn’t a spawn from Hell so what possible advice could the Little Demon squad give to someone trying to raise an actual beast from beyond? For Danny DeVito, it’s “to know what you want, stick to it, and have faith that one day your daughter will come around to you.” Lucy’s hint would be to “just embrace the demon. Embrace the demon and relate to the demon as you would relate to an angel.”
Plaza, however, would recommend setting aside ample time for self-care. “It’s hard to raise a demon, and there’s other demons coming for your demon, but do some yoga, take a nap, take a load off, focus on yourself, because if you’re not good then you’re not going to be able to take care of your demon. And that’s the advice I give to all mothers of demons… Put on a podcast, smoke a little J and what’s gonna happen is gonna happen. You know, some individuals obtain their heads exploded and die.”
As the Little Demon chat wrapped up, Harmon was sowever curious about one thing, turning to Danny DeVito to ask what exactly were Penguin’s good intentions in Batman Returns? After all, Danny said all of his bad guy characters had something good underneath.
“Well, Oswald was very much going to revamp the city,” Danny explained to Harmon. “Change Gotham. Change it into a workable city for everyone, from the bottom to the top. None of this elitist bulls**t that was going on. I was taking it and bringing it to the individuals and the penguins and the birds and the animals and everything like that. And of course, there were children involved, but we won’t go there…”
“Now I’m watching the movie again,” Harmon replied with a laugh, “and Comic-Con touchdown for Danny DeVito. He gets into his characters!”
Little Demon airs on Thursdays beginning August 25 on FXX, with episodes debuting on Hulu the next day.