June 1, 2022

“The Boys” is a Bloody Good Time (Seasons 1 & 2 Review)

Note: This review was originally published in The Cape Cod Chronicle in November 2020.

For those suffering from superhero fatigue, I get it. There are at least five a year, and not all of them can be winners. Sometimes, you might want to step away from the big screen, and get comfortable on your own couch for some exciting, binge-able television. One thing that the pandemic has brought us is more time to invest searching our streaming queues for new shows to devote ourselves to, and The Boys is one such series that brought me happiness in the last few months.

Adapted from a foul-mouthed comic series that ran from 2006 to 2012, The Boys turns the entire superhero genre on its head. Set in a fictionalized New York City, disgruntled ex-federal agent Billy Butcher (Lord of the Rings’s Karl Urban) recruits everyman Hughie (Jack Quaid) to take down commercialized superheroes — called ‘Supes’ by Butcher — owned by massive corporation Vought. The day beforehand, Hughie’s girlfriend Robin was brutally (albeit accidentally) murdered by one of these Supes, a lightning-fast speedster named A-Train (Jessie T. Usher). To further complicate things, Hughie befriends Starlight (Erin Moriarty), the newest member of premier hero group The Seven.

And I haven’t even scratched the surface of the incredibly talented cast and righteously engaging plot threads that this series sets up through its two available seasons. When I started watching last summer, I was sucked right in, and finished the first season in just one day. This past summer, eight more episodes arrived, and I was reminded just how much I love this show.

As you might be able to guess, superheroes are the villains of this story. Not all of them are awful, but unfortunately the good ones are in the minority here. Heading up The Seven is Homelander, an indestructible Superman-esque ‘hero’ who will most definitely supersede King Joffrey and Scrappy-Doo to become the television character that you’d like to punch the most. Thankfully, he’s played by Antony Starr, who endeavors to make Homelander as likable as possible to distract from the utter awfulness of the character. As the series progresses, you will find more and more characters to hate, but you’ll also find more characters to root for. It’s a good balance, sometimes making you question if characters are truly good or truly evil. I find it fun to guess as I watch for the first time, and even more fun to look for clues setting up an eventual reveal upon a second viewing.

Every episode of The Boys ups the ante in the best possible way. Some cliffhangers are resolved, and some keep you hanging on for more. Whether it’s a new addition to the stellar ensemble cast or yet another genius parody of a popular DC or Marvel superhero, there’s always something new to keep viewers satiated.

To make things even better, The Boys doesn’t shy away from important societal issues, without being too ‘in-your-face’ about it. Whether it’s toxic masculinity, diversity, white supremacy, sexual assault, or the privatization of the military — the list goes on and on — this explicit superhero show has more to say about real life than you might think.

There are lots of reasons why The Boys is one of my all-time favorite series. It’s not afraid to tread on touchy subjects, it has absolutely no filter (an aspect that would ward some viewers away, I realize), and a new twist could come from any direction. The Boys keeps you guessing, and you’ll get lost in its bizarrely naturalistic world. It’s a strong recommend from me.

The first two seasons of The Boys are streaming on Amazon Prime.

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