Review: The Boys – Season One

Producer(s): Evan Goldberg, Neal H. Moritz, Seth Rogan, Pavun Shetty, Ken F. Levin, Ori Marmur, Eric Kripke, Jason Netter, Nick Barrucci, Cory Bird, Anne Cofell Saunders, Gabriel Garcia, Hartley Gorestein, George Masterson.

Director(s): Philip Sgriccia, Daniel Attias, Eric Kripke, Jennifer Phang, Stefan Schwartz, Matt Shakman, Fredrick E.O Toye, Dan Trachtenberg

Writer(s): Eric Kripke, Garth Ennis, Anne Cofell Saunders, Craig Rosenberg, Rebecca Sonnenshine, George Masters, Ellie Monahan, Evan Goldberg, Phil HayMatt Manfredi, Darick Robertson, Seth Rogan

Composer: Christopher Lennertz

Starring: Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Dominique McElligott, Jessie T. Usher, Chase Crawford, Tomer Capon, Nathan Mitchell, Elisabeth Shue, Laz Alonso, Colby Minifie, Jennifer Esposito, Simon Pegg

Distributor: Amazon Prime Video

Genre: Action, Crime, Sci-Fi, Comedy, Drama

Rating: TV-MA

The Boys is an American television series based on the comic book series of the same name which was published between October 2006 to November 2012. It’s created by Eric Kripke and produced and distributed by Amazon Prime Video and premiered on July 26th, 2019. The potential development for an adaptation of the comic series has been in the works for many years; however, development stalled in several stages. Between 2008 and 2016, Columbia Pictures and Paramount Pictures were in the process of a live action feature film adaptation of The Boys. With no movement toward production, Cinemax acquired the license to adapt the publication and began development on a television series in April of 2016.

The series was to be developed by Eric Kripke, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogan. Shorty after, development rights were obtained by Amazon Video. In November 2017, Amazon green lit an eight episode series exclusively for its streaming video service Amazon Prime Video. The series was to be developed by the same creative team. As production went underway, Amazon began announcements of the impressive cast charged with fleshing out the world of The Boys. Hollywood veterans such as Karl Urban and Elisabeth Shue accompanied by up-and-comers like Jack Quaid and Erin Moriarty were announced throughout 2018.

The Amazon Video Original series The Boys  premiered on July 26, 2019 after an aggressive marketing campaign which included multiple series posters, trailers, comic con panels, accompanying music videos, and a heavy social media campaign. The series was released to rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. The Boys achieved a Rotten Tomato Critic score of 81%, with an audience score of 94% and a Metacritic Score of 73 with a user score of 8.5. Prior to the release of the premiere season, on July 19, 2019 Amazon Video renewed the series for a highly anticipated second season and is already in preproduction.

*CONTENT WARNING: THIS SHOW IS INTENDED FOR MATURE AUDIENCES*

Content Guide

Spiritual Content: The series centers around individuals who have superhuman abilities and are looked up to as gods among men. A strong religious presence is prominently featured throughout the series; however, it is used by these superhuman individuals and corporate entities to control, manipulate, and gain profit from the masses. God, Jesus, and The Spirit are referred to, and traditions such as water baptism can be seen.

Violence: The Boys is ultra-violent. Hand-to-hand combat is featured heavily throughout the series along with gun battles. Individuals who possess superhuman abilities such as superhuman strength, speed, and optic lasers, are engaged in battle and can lead to but is not limited to dismemberment, decapitation, full body explosions, thermal burns, and body deformation. Scenes of extreme violence, complete with bloody gore, are present throughout the entirety of the series. 

Language/Crude Humor: Foul language used throughout the series such as F**k, B***h, A**, C**t, S**t  and other words are featured. Although foul language is prominent throughout the entirety of the show, it doesn’t feel overly abused but natural within the cynical and dark tone of the world.  

Sexual Content: Scenes containing graphic sexual contact are featured such as full frontal male nudity, views of male buttocks, male on female kissing, male and female love making, male on male kissing, female on female kissing. Scenes eluding to sexual assault are present.

Drug/ Alcohol Use: Multiple characters drink alcohol throughout the entirety of the show. Cigarette smoking is peppered throughout the series along with drug abuse. One character overdoses on heroin.

Other Negative Themes: Graphic scenes of sexual abuse are featured in the series. The status of authority and celebrity is used to force others into sexual encounters. Some scenes of animal cruelty are present.

Positive Themes:  Exposing corporate corruption and greed is  a major  theme in the series. Although the methods of exposing this corruption is crude and violent, uncovering the truth behind such nepotism is significant.

Story

The Boys is set in a world where individuals are gifted with superhuman abilities. These individuals are affectionately called “Supes” by society. After suffering the accidental loss of his girlfriend at the hands of one of the most prominent superhero, Hughie Campbell (The Hunger Games and Logan Lucky’s Jack Quaid) joins forces with Billy Butcher (Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, and Dredd’s Karl Urban) and his group of normal humans whose goal it is to uncover the true corrupt and arrogant nature of the admired superheros and unmask their true ruthless characters.

Butcher’s ultimate goal is to expose and kill Homelander (American Gothic’s Anthony Starr), the leader of “The Seven.” The Seven is a superhero team consisting of seven of the most powerful individuals identified with abilities. All people with enhanced abilities desire to be chosen to be one of The Seven. The Seven are owned and governed by the private corporation Vought run by Madelyn Stillwell (Leaving  Las Vegas and Adventures in Babysitting’s Elisabeth Shue) who controls all aspects of the team’s responses to crime, social media presence, and all public personas in order to manipulate the masses and government. Butcher and his team of colorful characters continue to plot and scheme in order to discover the weaknesses to eliminate these god like beings who can end their lives at any moment with little effort. 

Review

In the last twenty years, the superhero genre has taken the world by storm.  Although many superhero movies and television shows attempt to portray what our world would look like if superpowered beings lived among us, none can compare to The Boys. The series takes the classic superhero trope and turns it on its head. The series introduces these superhero characters whose public personas are “do gooders” – crime fighters, righters of wrongs, just and pure. However, these characters are far from the pure of heart they are marketed to be.

The character of  Homelander is a perfect example. Adorned with superstrength, optic lasers, and flight, Anthony Starr portrays this complex character with subtlety and terror. With the capability of killing anyone and anything with just an optic blast or a flick of the wrist, he drives the tension in every scene he appears in through the roof. His unpredictable behavior and the inability of anyone to challenge him leaves the viewer at the edge of their seats waiting with anticipation for the worst to happen to anyone in his presence. Each character with or without superhuman abilities are expertly directed to feel real, believable, and relatable. Karl Urban expertly depicts a man who is broken, yet focused. Though the series is just eight episodes long, it’s expertly paced. The characters are established quickly, but developed with defined precision. 

The writing in The Boys is some of the best in any series to date. The dialogue is punchy, spunky, crude, and funny. Although the language and insults are vulgar, it feels natural within the setting of the world. Relationships are developed naturally and don’t feel forced. The story arc of The Boys is unique in the genre of the superhero tale. The series is an examination of celebrity and the pedestals society places them on. The series excellently depicts the corporate machine of celebrity. It explores how corporations control social awareness by examining social media trends, behind-the-scenes corporate deals, government scandals, and cover ups. The world of The Boys is as real as anyone could imagine it would be if people with godlike powers truly existed. These people would be corrupt, abusive, arrogant, and use their abilities for their own personal gain. This is why The Boys is a standout in its genre. 

The series is perfectly directed with a constant balance of realism and surrealism. This is achieved by a stellar production. Though characters are able to achieve unbelievable feats beyond human ability, these actions feel real and tangible. A look into the consequences of these actions flesh out the tone of its reality.  The cinematography of the series achieves a truly cinematic tone with epic scale. Though there are limited scenes of the “supes” performing their abilities, the scenes that do showcase their powers are magnificent. It’s rare in the superhero genre to truly show the devastating effects many of these abilities would have on people and the environment, and the series does not shy away from it.

Conclusion

The Boys is a heart pounding, violent, vulgar, gratuitous, thrill ride of a series. It deconstructs the traditional superhero and examines what it is to be a hero and how these superpowered beings affect those around them. Anthony Starr’s Homelander and Karl Urban’s Billy Butcher are series standouts. The expert pacing of the series lends itself perfectly for a night of binge watching. The series excels at leaving the viewer expecting the unexpected. The Boys perfectly balances dread and tension with dark humor and wit. The series will make you fall in love with some characters and make you love to hate others. There is a perfect balance of charm and ruthlessness in the show. The series is a standout and will absolutely become Amazon Prime Videos’s flagship science fiction series. It is truly special. The Boys will keep your eyes glued to the screen. You won’t want to miss a second.

Noel Davila

Noel is a writer and performer based out of the New York City area. With a background in acting, theater arts, years of stage and screen writing, composing and scoring utilizing his skills as a singer song writer, Noel looks to be an all around creator in the arts. Many of the films Noel has written have been selected and featured at a number of Film Festivals including The New York International Film Festival, The Hudson Valley Film Festival, The Art is Alive Film Festival, ect and have gone on to be nominated and awarded for multiple awards including "Best Comedy Short" ,"Best Of", "Best make up", ect. Noel continues to perform live original music all across New York City

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