Thursday, 25 July 2019

The Boys Review

There are a number of programs dropping across the various streaming services this week, but none moreso unique than The Boys, whose debut season premieres tomorrow on Amazon. Developed by Eric Kripke, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, the comic book show has already been renewed for a second season ahead of its debut, and it'd be fair to say it's one of the most unique comic book shows around, though whether that's a good or bad thing depends on your taste.

Fans of the comic book series will probably be more than aware and fully anticipating some of the colourful events that go down, but for those viewers drawn to the show because of the cast, creators behind it, and most certainly NOT because you're trying to replace the Marvel shaped hole Netflix has left in your life because this show is anything but family friendly.

Extremely colourful language, blood, gore, violence, questionable antics and a complete lack of moral compass. The Boys is essentially an after-after school late night special on what so called heroes get up to after dark, with the normal every day man charging themselves with stopping them.

I'll admit that coming into this show I could probably be classed as potential audience member #1) drawn to the show because of the cast. Those who had the pleasure of watching Cinemax's Banshee for 3 seasons and American Gothic will know that Anthony Starr is quite the talent and perfectly cast here as Homelander, the leader of the seven. He's got a rather interesting relationship with Madelyn Stillwell, one of the top members of Voight International. It's a relationship which has many a twist and turn throughout the season, some slightly predictable, others not as Homelander deals with an identity crisis of sorts over the type of hero that he is, Madelyn attempting to keep him reigned in and hold all the cards close to her chest, whilst the show also has enough self awareness in places to acknowledge how messed up their relationship dynamic is even if we have to suffer through a few disturbing scenes in the process.

What makes The Boys such an interesting and unique show is its take on superheros. Given we're living in an era where it feels like every streamer, network and movie production company is trying to cash in on superheros by placing them on a giant pedastal and making us fall in love with them, The Boys isn't interested in any of that. Voight Enterprise has already made The Seven the most beloved and profitable superhero's on earth, completely incapable in the publics eyes of doing anything wrong and The Seven fully embrace that, knowing they can do whatever the heck they want without having to face the consequences of their actions because Voight will make any scandal go away. A-Train is a speedster much like The Flash, but unlike Barry Allen he has a few addiction issues, mixed in with fears over growing older and commits an act in the shows opener that sets the course for the rest of the events this season.

Since Gossip Girl finished Chace Crawfords has done his fair bit of work but The Boys is his most interesting so far, playing on his good looks to make him quite the creep. His exchange with Annie January aka Starlight in the first episode will no doubt make for uncomfortable viewing in a post #MeToo world, as will Starlight being cascaded for using her powers to stop a girl being sexually assaulted, but that's the whole point of this show. It's designed to play up to stereotypes that society has, show us that everyone can and is capable of being trash, that no one should be placed on a pedestal because we're all capable of horrendous things and even when you attempt to do the right thing? There's still consequences to be faced.

Critical reception for the show has so far been slightly mixed with some praising the show for embracing its edgy persona, and others believing certain parts of the comics don't neccesarily translate well on screen. Quite a few times whilst watching the first season even I'm guilty of an audible gasp at just how a show could be allowed to pull off some of the content that it does, but it's what makes the show so refreshing. Whilst the Marvel Netflix Universe had its fair share of choreographed fights and heroes facing pain, it was hard to get too invested because it all felt so scripted and I was more than aware that certain characters would be making it to the end of the show regardless of whether they deserved to or not. Jessica Jones is the only show that ever really came closest to embracing the don't give a damn attitude of its heroine, and even that show was ruined by an uneven second season that couldn't build correctly off its debut. The CW-verse is OK but the bloated episode count enables far too much filler, the characters aren't particularly compelling and played by actors who even several years into the show can't get out of first gear and Fox always treated Gotham like the ugly stepchild despite the quality storytelling going down every year.

The Boys offers up that something different. The cast is superb all round, the storytelling never drops points, the shortened season along with the episode lengths leaves no room for any filler at all, with every scent building towards something, tons of crass and in places crude humour but that tends to be expected with a show heralding from Seth Rogen, the supporting cast are just as great as the main and there's some interesting cameos to keep an eye out on.

We're just over the halfway point of 2019 and I can safely say that The Boys is my favourite new show to drop this year, and as long as viewers go into the show ready to embrace the madness, it should make for quite the entertaining ride.