The Boys: Season 1 Review

From the time I first saw the trailer of Amazon Prime’s adaptation of The Boys, I knew I was going to be in for a wild ride. It was edgy. It was unique. It was dark, and most definitely a far cry from the superhero series you want your kids to watch. Long story short, it was an unquittable load of fun.

Synopsis: Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) works as a salesman for an electronics shop and was just about to move in with his long-time girlfriend Robin when superhero A-train (Jessie Usher) zooms past and kills her. Distraught over her passing, Hughie struggles with his rage, only to be approached by a shady character named Butcher (Karl Urban) who taps him to infiltrate Voight, the corporation that runs the superhero operations in the US. For the mission, he also meets jack of all trades Frenchie (Tomer Kapon) , ex-Black Ops Mothers Milk aka MM (Laz Alonzo), and a mysterious supe, Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) to form a ragtag team with no clear goal except to take down the supes. In the process, Hughie falls in love with newbie superhero Starlight (Erin Moriarty), who, unlike the rest of the supes, seems to genuinely care about saving people.

The Boys takes place in a world where the superhero business is a commercial operation. From services to merchandise, each aspect of supes are processed for public consumption. In this universe, people born with super abilities and are groomed with the ultimate goal of becoming part of The Seven, The Boys‘ version of The Justice League. The Seven make up the most high profile superheroes in the country and are considered as the strongest, most marketable faces of Voight Corporation. However, behind the scenes, these pristine images hide damaged, depraved secrets ranging from sexual exploits to mass murder.

The Boys immediately gets audiences hooked because of the blood and the violence, as well as the creative ways they rack up the fatalities in this series. From deconstructing the anatomy, to blowing up people and using a superbaby’s laser vision to decapitate the enemy henchmen, The Boys, based a comic series written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Darick Robertsondoes not lack in the creativity department, constantly pushing the boundaries of their viewers’ sensitivities to deliver shocking, memorable scenes. The fact that some of the shots were directly inspired by the comic book’s panels was an extra treat for fans.

However, apart from the grit and violence, audiences can also identify with the issues presented by the series such as politics, corruption and abuse. And while The Boys operates on the premise of the fictional because of the superhero element, audiences can quickly supplant these characters in their own mind and find themselves identifying with the plight of newcomer Starlight, who is immediately disillusioned by reality on her first day on the job, or Maeve, the long-time employee who begins to question her motivations. Hughie also finds himself questioning the morality of his choices at some point as things get too deep for him to handle.

Of all the characters, Homelander, perfectly played by Anthony Starr, stole the show because of the underlying menace that he projects in all of his scenes. He reminds audiences of Superman, but with an evil twist. Even when he smiles at the crowd and says the right things, viewers understand that there is something dark brimming beneath the surface and it is the scariest thing in this entire series, given the character’s super strength and fragile emotional and mental state.

On the flipside, his counterpart Billy Butcher, was not developed as a heroic leader to foil the villain. Unlike most action-adventure ensembles, The Boys did not focus on the development of the bond among Butcher’s crew. It was no secret that his single-mindedness for his goal to take down Homelander would compromise his friends but his thirst for vengeance dominated his entire character and there seemed to be no return from that. He was so consumed by his goals that he cared not for the welfare of his crew and in much the same sense, its horrifying to see an antihero and the villain have so much in common. This was something that the series managed to illustrate and underscore with the final scenes.

In contrast, I loved Hughie’s role as the voice of the team’s conscience, as well Frenchie’s optimism and resourcefulness. Even if I found it hard to understand his words, the Frenchman was my favorite character. He reminded me a lot of Breaking Bad‘s Jessie Pinkman and his unpredictability made it even more fun to watch the show.

I liked that The Boys highlighted the differences and similarities of humans and supes. The show also showed what supes and humans had in common, their weakness for other people. At the end of the day, this was a huge gamechanger.

I loved how the show presented the conflicts in the series from a mere drug run for Compound V, the show continued to raise the ante to involve a worldwide conspiracy involving supes and terrorists. The show also made sure to set up the next arc for  Season 2 given that hanging ending that most definitely shocked the viewers.

The Boys was definitely a flip on the classic superhero trope. Developed by Supernatural creator Erik Kripke, the show highlights the other side of the superhero coin and posits the possibilities if heroes were the actual villains. Coupled with heart pounding and fast paced action, the unique plot sets the series apart from other superhero franchises and creates its own niche. Its definitely a fun way to spend eight hours of your life for a binge.

PS. The appearance of Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito and Supernatural’s Jim Beaver were great cameos and set ups for the second season. I’m already excited.