by T. Mack
2019 seems to be the year of exploring alternative possibilities of what might happen if people were given ultimate power. First, there was Brightburn, a dark twist on the Superman origin. Now, Amazon has released the 8-episode first season of their original television series, The Boys. The show is an adaptation of the 72-issue comic series of the same name. Both the comic and the show are set in a world where super-powered humans exist and the media frenzy surrounding them has created celebrity status, movies and television shows, endorsement deals, sexual perversion, and corruption on every level. The superheroes, or “supes” as they’re called, care more about indulging their own depravity than actually helping people. And a ragtag group called “The Boys” are tasked with trying to take down the super-charged heroes. While The Boys can’t really be classified as “the good guys,” they are arguably leagues ahead of the heroes who are masquerading as exactly that. And the entire thing is one big, f—ing, entertaining-ass mess!
The new series is created by Eric Kripke, the same guy who brought us the joy that is Supernatural. However, this ain’t the CW. And this series is definitely not suitable for any young viewers. The show stays true to the spirit of the comic series by being vulgar, crude, and completely inappropriate. It keeps the graphic violence, foul language, strong sexual content, and adult themes for which the comic is known. Seriously, I can’t remember having seen that many mature audience ratings at the beginning of a show before… and I watched Game of Thrones!
Of course, not everything from 72 comic books could make it into eight hour-long TV episodes. So the audience is only introduced to the most elite superhero team, The Seven. Though other superhero teams are mentioned in passing, we never see them. And in some ways, the world of The Boys feels like it’s never completely fleshed out as it should be. However, the portion we get is absolutely terrific. It’s gritty in its realism and scary in the reality it sets up. Because we all know, deep down, that this is the more true scenario that would play out if people–real people–had powers. While Marvel and DC paint pretty pictures of completely altruistic heroes, this series holds up a mirror in front of that fantasy and makes us take a look at what we actually know about ourselves as people. The truth is… we kind of suck. And with super powers, we’d likely super suck. At least, many of us would.
Even with such a short season, the show manages to give every character depth. Each one takes a journey throughout the season and follows an arc. No one is in exactly the same place emotionally as they were when the adventure began. Some are in a much better place. Some are in a place that is so much worse. But each one has changed somehow over the course of the eight episodes. And it is a pleasure to watch it happen.
The entire cast of this series shines. I have to highlight Karl Urban, though, because his casting as Billy Butcher is inspired! He’s a perfect fit as the gruff, vengeful Englishman. Jack Quaid also does a terrific job as Hughie, showing the exact right blend of vulnerability, fear, determination, and not knowing what the hell he’s doing. Erin Moriarty is terrific as Annie, showing off a wide-eyed naivety that is heart-breaking. And Anthony Starr is utterly amazing as Homelander. I can’t explain exactly what is so good about his performance because it would be a bit of a spoiler. But let’s just say, he is awesome in this role and balances the different facets of this character tremendously with a subtlety that is sublime.
The series has already been renewed for a second season, which is a good thing. Because the end of episode eight will definitely leave you wanting to know what happens next. I highly recommend this show for those who can handle seeing heroes fall and are okay with facing the reality of very alternative and reimagined versions of Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, and more.
Rating: 5 SHIELDS
TRIGGER WARNING: This series includes portrayal of sexual assaults both by coercion and physical force. Also there is rapid-fire gunfire on several occasions throughout the episodes.
Have you watched “The Boys”? If so, what did you like or dislike about it? If you haven’t seen it, do you plan to watch it? Why or why not? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.