Family, Friendship, Horror, and Comedy – The Secret Ingredients in FX’s “Little Demon”

“I've known [our showrunners] since I was a teenager,” Aubrey Plaza revealed about the new FX adult animation series Little Demon during a TCA press conference. Aubrey Plaza voices Laura Feinberg, the mother of the devil’s spawn, and also serves as an executive producer alongside her longtime friends. “I've known Seth Kirschner since I was 12 years old. We grew up together. And Darcy [Fowler] and Kieran [Valla] and I met in the early days of UCB Comedy in New York. It's all very familiar to me, and we all kind of have the same sensibility.:”



In the Little Demon, premiering August 25th on FXX, Laura has spent the past 13 years as a single mother to her daughter Chrissy, moving around to protect her from the truth of her paternal lineage. But when Chrissy experiences “First Blood,” Satan suddenly shows up to claim her as his spawn. “The reason we centered on the shedding of first blood, which means getting her period and murdering two bullies, is because a lot of us as women can look back around that time and it is the most horrifying time of childhood,”  co-creator, co-showrunner, and executive producer Darcy Fowler explained. “[It] lends itself really well to the horror genre, which obviously Little Demon is, and we're all huge horror nerds. There is something terrifying about watching your body transform and having a lack of control over that.”

As self-proclaimed horror nerds, the creative team splices genres together in this edgy adult animated series. “Blending genres, there's always a tonal challenge that comes along with it,” shared co-creator, co-showrunner, and executive producer Kieran Valla. “But it's also a real gift because if you can pull it off and you can do it well, that's all of our favorite stuff. We love horror comedy, the three of us, known as The Demon Set — Darcy and myself we've worked in live-action. We did two horror-comedy live-action things before this. And so we love blending genres, and it's a real fun thing for us to do.”

“What's great about comedy and horror is how they do lend themselves well together, how they're sort of just different sides of the same coin,” added Seth Kirschner, the third member of “The Demon Set,” who is also a co-creator, co-showrunner, and executive producer. “In horror, you're always looking for some sort of release, and the same thing in comedy, in that they just sort of work really well off of each other and we are obsessed with horror movies and B horror movies and all genres of horror and pulling from everything that we find to be exciting or funny or scary. It has been such a real joy to be able to play with all of them and figure out different ways to meld them all together.”



Little Demon may be rated TV-MA (for language, explicit sexual activity, and graphic violence), but the production is a family affair for the DeVito’s. “We got along pretty well,” reflected Lucy DeVito, Danny DeVito’s daughter who voices Chrissy and also executive produces the show. “Kids and their parents can both be demons to each other, so it goes both ways. In my household growing up, there was a lot of love and fun. But, of course, growing up is a tricky situation for every person. And then growing up in a household where your father is touted the ‘Prince of Darkness’ in the main world, that's also another hurdle to jump over. We based this show on the positive relationship that we have and used that as a launching-off point for the dark, twisted things that you think about your parents or that your parents think about you growing up.”

“There wasn't much that was off-limits in our house,” recalled Jake DeVito, who joins his sister and father as an executive producer on Little Demon. “Our parents raised us watching so many great movies and going to see great concerts and everything. And it was always a great group of creative people that were coming through the house all the time, as well, every Sunday. He was making these amazing films with directing, but also, with Jersey Films, we were around during the time of Pulp Fiction and Out of Sight, and these great projects that were very adult when we were very young. And even when It's Always Sunny [in Philadelphia] started, you know, those guys were hanging out in our backyard when I was in middle school. So, it was super fun to have that freedom.”

For Danny DeVito, playing Satan comes with its own level of freedom. “I always felt like that side of me, that color that I play on the color wheel of emotion and mischievousness was always there, and now I have purpose,” the actor, father, and executive producer shared. “I have a quest as the devil. I met a beautiful woman, and I have a gorgeous Antichrist daughter, who I really love, and I really want to be with. So it allows me to play all of the devilish things that I've always done in my career. But it also gives me a family to care about.”

Joining the team as executive producer is Dan Harmon, creator of Community and co-creator of Rick & Morty. “I was heavily involved in the beginning and tapered off as much as I could, as quickly as I could,” Dan shared about his role on the show. “I was, for instance, for the pilot episode, heavily involved in helping these kids break the story. And then doing dialogue passes, and things like that. But the goal was to get these folks in charge of their own thing as much as possible, and where I can help, I'd love to help. So, that's how much I was involved in this. What I look for is a really good question because I did think about that quite logically when it came time to think about branching out, and the answer to me, logically, is look for a point of view that overlaps with yours, but then has so much that's mutually exclusive. So, it was the particular aspect of the Little Demon pitch, Darcy talking about the relationships between mothers and daughters and the three of them pointing out that there's been no mainstream animation comedy that's really focused particularly on the single mother-daughter relationship, one which I have nothing to contribute to, in terms of point of view. I do have a ton to contribute to, in terms of tonal acrobatics or how much meta is too much meta. I think as you get older, you should let your wisdom take over for your edge, let the kids be funny and interesting, and bring their crazy thoughts to the table. The things they want to pick a bone about, well, you just retreat into your mansion and say, ‘Well, based on doing this for 100 hours, or 1,000 hours, I can tell you you'll set yourself up better for 100 episodes if you do this and that in your pilot.’ I really wanted to watch them explore for the first time in animation that I can name a strong dimensional relationship between a single mom and her daughter.”

Little Demon premieres Thursday, August 25th at 10/9c on FXX with two back-to-back episodes. Episodes will be available to stream the day after air on Hulu.

Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).