The Boys premiered on Amazon Prime on July 26 and is one of the most watched shows in the history of the streaming service with a sequel already in production. The hype is well earned and absolutely warranted. The Boys is a refreshing take on the superhero genre, especially in a world like what we live in today where Avengers: Endgame just became the highest earnings box office movie of all time along with Spider-Man: Far From Home earning more than 1 billion at the box office. The world loves heroes right now and the genre shows no signs of slowing down. In the height of the genre’s success, The Boys offers something we haven’t seen much since Watchmen and takes it even further.
2009’s Watchmen gave us a world where heroes were the villains but there were still a good number of good ones. The Boys offers up a similar story but here the heroes are pretty much all bad with a few exceptions. Further, we see the corporate greed associated with the “supes” as they are so regularly referred to in the show. The Seven (clearly meant to be a gritty representation of the Justice League) spend their public facing time staring in movies about themselves, making appearances on news shows, and occasionally saving people in need. In their private time, they work to further their brand and get involved in all sorts of depravity.
The show starts off with A-Train running through the main character Hughie’s (Jack Quaid) girlfriend absolutely obliterating her body. Her resulting death leads Hughie to re-evaluate his feelings towards supes and cascades the story into a ton of fun. On the other spectrum is the show’s other lead Starlight (Erin Moriarty), an innocent small town girl who auditions for The Seven and gets in. Starlight AKA Annie January is a sweet young woman who saves her local town’s citizens and dreams of doing more. She achieves her dream of getting into The Seven and quickly learns that it isn’t at all what she expected. Rather than helping the downtrodden, she and her fellow team members are engaged in social media campaigns, guest appearances at events, marketing projects and other such corporate activities. Rather than act as a hero as she intended, she is sucked into the world of corporate Superhero greed.
The two main leads play their character’s beautifully. Starlight comes off as a genuinely good person who wants to improve the world and Hughie is a conflicted young man who is thrown into situations far out of his comfort zone. Karl Urban once again demonstrates that he is the king of all nerds with his performance as Billy Butcher, a supe hater whose mission is take down the supes once and for all. The underlying motivations of the character take some time to unfold but offer up an engaging plot to the audience. Add onto that the fact that Karl Urban is absolutely hilarious and his role is easily among the best aspects of the entire show.
Billy Butcher assembles a rag tag team known as “the boys” to work together to take down the supes. Hughie, Mother’s Milk and Frenchie all have an exciting dynamic that portrays adequate drama, action and comedy for the 7 episodes that they are on screen together. Their hunt of The Seven, particularly Homelander, is rife with struggles and twists and turns. Hughie’s struggle with the morality of what he is doing are some of the best parts of the show and seeing him go from seeing these “heroes” as his role models to seeing them for the trash people they are is amazing.
The Seven are off mostly brand Justice League characters and it’s not subtle at all, which adds to the joy of the show. Homelander is the antithesis of Superman, A-Train is The Flash, Queen Maeve is Wonder Woman, The Deep is Aquaman, Black Noir is Batman, Starlight is similar in nature to Supergirl and the Translucent, while less recognize-able as a Justice League rip off, shares powers similar to plenty of heroes in comics, most notable Sue Storm from Marvel’s Fantastic Four. While each of The Seven gets screen time, we see Homelander and Starlight the most. A-Train, The Deep and Maeve all play significant roles as well but get less screen time then our main villain Homelander. I won’t dive into specifics as I am sensitive to spoilers but Homelander gets up to some shady stuff and is a terrifying example of what it could be like to have a corporate, selfish Superman.
With a short season of only 8 episodes that run about an hour a piece, The Boys is absolutely worth your time. Caution to the viewer that The Boys is rated TV-MA and not for kids. The intent of the show is to give audiences a gritty take on what Superheroes would actually be like if they were real. The Boys takes on a lot of current topics and gets into topics that some could find controversial but ultimately doesn’t over-politicize like other shows (I’m looking at your Supergirl).
The journey that Billy Butcher and Hughie take in order to defeat the corporate greed of the supes is intriguing and packed full of storytelling. There are no dull moment or useless exposition. It gets straight to the character development, story and in turn does a top notch job of entertaining the audience. I am a big fan of short shows as I enjoy finishing a story but The Boys is one of those rare times that I was really hoping for a few more episodes. I don’t think that 8 episodes was a problem. Rather, The Boys is so wonderfully executed that I wanted more and did not want my time with it to end. I highly recommend giving this show a chance. It ends with many open plots lines that need to be resolved which is why the confirmation of a season 2 is such happy news.
For our spoiler filled thoughts on The Boys, check out our latest issue of the podcast here or tune in to the audio only starting Monday morning.
4 out of 5 Couch Cushions and a Throw Pillow!!!!