Spoilers for The Boys Season One
Oy! It’s The Boys you, lot! Get together with your fuckin’ mates and have a blast.
Man, it’s going to be embarrassing if you guys don’t read that in a very exaggerated cockney accent.
This pandemic has been harsh on all of us. Stuck in our home with no one to talk to. Alone with you deep dark thoughts and maybe some prime television series. But you realize that can only help so much when you hear a voice coming from the direction of your dog. You start to lose your grip and feel like you need to get out. But when you finally do get out rather than for work or a walk you start to get worried that someone else might get you sick. Eventually, you do get used to this new world and your fears start to dwindle, until someone at work tests positive that you have been close to which just says you were right to have those fears from before. So you get tested at a pharmacy drive thru like it’s a McDonald’s for sick people and you stick a swab up your nostril and spin it around for fifteen seconds while you have You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) by Dead or Alive playing in the back of your mind. Then you go home wondering if you are sick. Do you have pre-existing conditions? You don’t go to the doctor that often, so how can you know for sure. You start to panic and wonder what you’re going to do, so you just say: “Fuck it. Let’s just write about The Boys”… Speaking to no one in particular… Let’s talk about The Boys.
We have a new season of The Boys coming up on September 4th, so I thought it would be a good time to look back on the first season. Also, I ran out of stuff to watch during quarantine so I watched it again. The Boys is one of fifteen things produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg which keeps them from directing anything else, but the show is developed by Eric Kripke who is most well known for creating Supernatural. The show follows The Boys’ quest to defame the world’s superheroes who have turned into power hungry monsters. The show launched last year to reviews that have all come together to give the show a high praise that reads: “Yeah, it’s good.” A statement that I deeply agree with.
Last year when the show launched I was actually pretty excited about it. It’s based on a comic book written by Garth Ennis who I have enjoyed. I read a lot of comic books, they’re nice to have when you are too scared to go outside (even before quarantine). I’ve previously enjoyed his work on Preacher and Punisher, but I’m also currently reading his run on John Constantine: Hellblazer which I think might be my favorite work of his. Also, this is the second time that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have worked with his material, the first being Preacher which I very much enjoyed. But with that said, when the show first premiered, I had tried to read the comic. I don’t like The Boys in comic form. Granted, I gave up on it pretty quickly, so it could’ve got better. But so much of the humor in the comic is shocking without any real punchline. But I feel like the show is a better amalgamation of it’s source material, at least of what I read.
When the show launched it was said to have been Amazon Prime’s most watched show on it’s streaming service attracting 8 million views on the first day (going off of Neilsen numbers). But the show didn’t attract critical acclaim. People did like it, but shows like Fleabag and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel were much better received at the time. People did latch on to the show and find this is largely due to the show’s character work.
The most recognized character from the show is Billy Butcher played by Karl Urban. This character is played off as a kind of cartoon character in the comic (in the couple issues that I have read). But on paper he is probably one of the least interesting characters of the show. He is a man that wants revenge for his wife’s perceived death at the hands of Homelander (the world’s Superman). But the way that character is portrayed by Karl Urban. Yes, Urban’s accent is over the top and the character is made up of mostly one liners, but Urban still brings some humanity to the character. It’s just the right balance between cartoon and reality. I’m also just really curious to see where the character goes after the season one finale where his wife is alive and has given birth to Homelander’s son.
The supporting characters of Frienchie, Mother’s Milk, and Yumiko are also well developed. They are mostly foils but I still care what happens to them. Frenchie and Yumiko’s relationship is something that excites me the most because it plays the most into the overall story. I’m also excited to see how their story involving superheroes being made through back alley methods will play out. Mother’s Milk’s story is more attached to his relationship to his wife and daughter and how it falls apart due to his involvement in taking down Supes. It’s probably the most relatable conflict but gets the least time. But actor Laz Alonso just owns the role. I just like seeing him on camera. I want to see him try to reconnect with his wife and daughter just because I like seeing him on camera.
Next comes probably the best improvement the show has over the comic. The portrayal of superheroes in this show is perfect. What just felt like cardboard cut out bad guys in the comic (again, going off just the couple issues that I read) are complexity developed characters in the show. A-Train, who jumps off the plot by killing Hughie’s girlfriend, is really well done. His character first shows someone that seems like a standard bad guy but is later shown to be someone that just can’t deal with the pressure of being a superhero and has to recognize his own flaws. Even the more evil characters, like Homelander, you can understand their reasoning while still hating them. Then The Deep is the perfect character to hate. While you do understand why he is the way he is, a sexual predator that is hungry for power, the show still wants you to hate him and laugh at him.
This is an ensemble show in concept but make no mistake, the main reason that many of us are invested is to see what happens to Hughie Campbell and Annie January (Starfire). Their relationship is perfectly developed throughout with it being presented as a more than imperfect relationship. Even with Hughie’s involvement with the Boys, his former girlfriend’s death due to superhero collateral damage puts an immediate bad feeling in their relationship but you also see how well they work together. Also the show playing into their issues is something that is very relatable. I hate seeing the perfect relationships in TV and film. When the show left off, Starfire chose to save Hughie’s life after learning that he had used her to find dirt on the Seven (the show’s Justice League). I’m looking forward to seeing how Starfire deals with the heroes that do good and the pasdamasdic view that many of the Boys hold.
These strong character choices make the show worth watching. For me, I think there are plenty of shows that are better filmed, written, and structured. But The Boys might be one of the shows that I’m the most invested in. The show has a lot of issues some character feel like they get ignored, there is one scene where Queen Maeve is fighting people out of nowhere and it’s horribly choreographed and shot, some plotlines feel like could use more time, and weirdly enough the show feels like it could use some more blood and violence. But I feel like the character work that happens in the show is enough to create some incredible investment.
This is even for a show that is kind of predictable. In season one we had learned that all of the superheroes were actually genetically engineered at birth to be products and that Homelander had taken their formula to foreign lands to create supervillains, so now they must be brought into military conflicts. Butcher learns that his wife is alive and that she had Homelander’s son, who will probably be tormented by Homelander. Also now all of The Boys are considered terrorists, but with Starfire saving Hughie and then Hughie saving A-Train, it seems that they will have some secret support from supes.
I’m pretty sure I know what’s going to happen next season. The Boys go on the run. They try to learn more about each member of the Seven. By the end of the season they will convince A-Train to give them the formula that makes superheroes (Compound-V). Also (spoiler, I guess) because I know in the comic Hughie is given superpowers, it will either end with him getting those power or the new hero, Stormfront, is a Neo-Nazi in the comics so that will probably be outed in the public by The Boys. Then in the future season with superheroes becoming more out of control and Homelander now having children which is supposed to be impossible, the company that made the superheroes, Vought International, will probably hire the Boys to take out the heroes with their resources. These are my general predictions for the show which I see ending in the fifth season.
I’m sure the show won’t play out exactly like I said it would, but even if it did I wouldn’t mind. I just want to see how the characters handle the situations and if they keep up the strong character work, I’ll stick it out till the end. I’m definitely tuning back in once season 2 premieres and if you’ve seen the first seen you will probably too.