Hell used to be an untouchable area for television, let alone for comedies, but the medium has grown receptive over the years. Horror has exploded on television since Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell officially premiered on Adult Swim back in 2013. The series has never shied away from the aggressive material that dominates damnation, but the rest of TV has slowly risen to its twisted level.
This series always delivers a feast for the senses, but it’s been two years since the conclusion of season three and this fourth season wrapped production well over a year ago, so it’s great to finally see these new episodes get released. Perhaps it has a lot to do with the absence between seasons, but Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell season 4 also feels like the most polished, creative season that the show has produced and that the series has figured out how to explore the concept of Hell in even more unique ways than in the past.
Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell has explored all sorts of mythical demons, urban legends, real-life serial killers, and paranormal subject matter. Your Pretty Face season 4 continues this trend, but rather than it feeling like the show has run out of evil ideas to mine stories from, there’s just as much variety present this season, with everything from Ouija boards, to Human Centipede homages, to the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. One particularly inspired storyline sees Gary and his coworkers attempt to master the art of a “devil’s bargain,” which is all about figuring out the most ironic twist in someone’s deal with the devil. The series continues to hungrily deconstruct the stereotypes that surround Hell in hilarious, surprising ways.
While the series’ focus remains on Hell, it does get to shine the light on Heaven a few times and continue to expand this universe. In the past, Heaven has been depicted as a witless punchline, but this season opens up an engaging discussion about the cost of eternal salvation and what it actually takes to ascend to Heaven and if it’s worth it. At another point the bonkers visuals present a deep, scathing dissection on the construct of the American family and if it still even exists.
Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell has always been fearless with its storytelling, but Casper Kelly and Dave Willis’ series has now reached a level of confidence where it can impressively mash together its Dadaist visual gags and absurdist premises with nuanced themes and the monotony of everyday life. It’s absolutely the only series that you’ll come across where Satan stresses over union rates and hires scabs to carry out the Apocalypse or where a stark conversation about the price of one’s soul is juxtaposed to a testicle being used as a teabag. This season, more than any other, taps into a level of emotion and vulnerability that helps make this ridiculous show still feel very human.
Live-action programs aren’t as plentiful as they once were on Adult Swim, but Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell remains the most stunning example of what can be done with the format. Four seasons in, it can be easy to take the show’s makeup and costume design for granted and grow accustomed to its strangeness by now, but not enough praise can be given to this show’s aesthetic. Horrific murders and dismemberments come to life in just the right way that these gruesome scenes properly tow the line between disturbing and comedic. Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell makes you wonder just enough if you should be laughing at this carnage without actually making you feel guilty for taking pleasure in this mayhem.
The look of the show’s locations and monsters is impressive and this season puts together some especially complicated set pieces like deaths set atop the Seven Wonders of the World or a stable for the Apocalypse’s horses. During some of the more complex sequences the show honestly feels like a cartoon, which is the highest kind of praise you can give to something as heightened as this. Casper Kelly and Dave Willis continue to prove why they’re formidable names in the television industry. Many may regard Too Many Cooks as their greatest achievement, but there are several bits in this season, like a commercial for an ultra-modern Ouija board, that contain the same energy as their viral “infomercial.”
In terms of the show’s performances, Henry Zebrowski brings such a joyful, enthusiasm to Gary’s well-intentioned idiocy. Even when the stakes are on the smaller side with this show it’s still incredibly delightful to watch Gary fumble through simple tasks and try not to drown in a sea of confusion. The season also understands when to have Gary off on his own and when it’s better to have him working through Hell’s problems as part of an ensemble. Additionally, all of the season’s valiant guest stars are also put to use in inspired ways. Jon Glaser is back as Hell’s torture coach, George Wendt as a Horseman of the Apocalypse, not Barack Obama, and Joey Fatone as himself, in what honestly might be the best performance of the season.
Rather than feel like this comedy has run its course, Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell finds new life this year with the dead. It’s an outrageous, confident, grisly season that gives the fans more of what they’ve loved for the past three seasons as well as genuinely pushing the formula forward. Hopefully Gary and the rest of Hell will be plaguing humanity for many more seasons to come.
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and he’s always game to discuss Space Dandy. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.