The Name of the Game – | Review Score – 4/5
Cherry – | Review Score – 4/5
Get Some – | Review Score – 4/5
The Female of the Species – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Good for the Soul – | Review Score – 4/5
The Innocents | Review Score – 4/5
The Self-Preservation Society – | Review Score – 4.5/5
You Found Me – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Superhero fatigue is something I’ve mentioned before and after 10+ years of constant superhero thrillers, reboots and the continuing onslaught of Marvel and DC content, the train doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. Of course, along the way there are standouts, with Doom Patrol acting as one of the best this year. However, a lot of the content blends together with the same predictable patterns and cliches along the way. Amazon’s latest Original The Boys bucks the trend, adding a compelling narrative, an interesting, satirical look at superhero culture and a smattering of blood and gore along the way for good measure. The result is something that’s astonishingly refreshing and one of the best shows of the year.
The story here imagines a world twisted by a capitalistic agenda that’s infected superhero culture. Driven by profits and social media influence, The Seven act as the hierarchal Gods of the superhero world, adored by fans the world over and can do no wrong. When the world’s fastest man A-Train inadvertently kills everyday man Hughie’s girlfriend by running through her, the lack of remorse leads him down a path of revenge. Teaming up with Mother’s Milk, Frenchie and an ex-FBI agent Butcher, the dysfunctional group work together to stop the Supers, uncovering some pretty shocking secrets along the way, including a look at the strange drug called Compound V.
While the story itself isn’t wholly original, there’s enough creativity with the way this one develops to easily look past some of the flaws. With 8 episodes clocking it at a little under an hour (with the exception of the 66 minute finale), The Boys is a relatively simple 8 hour journey that puts its characters first and foremost, much to the benefit of the show.
Every character, from The Deep and Homelander, through to Butcher, Hughie and Starlight are given believable arcs that develop strongly and with enough bumps along the way to give it that human touch. Seeing these people change and grow as the season wears on is partly the reason the show works as well as it does. Given The Deep’s masochistic behaviour early on, 7 episodes later I didn’t expect to feel empathy for him as he faces a trying ordeal involving his gills and a painful sexual experience. Even Homelander, whose painted as the main antagonist here, has enough backstory and tender moments to allow you to really understand what drives him.
Tonally, the series flits playfully between satirically picking apart superheroes, a poignant, empathetic look at these people’s lives and brutal, shocking action. There’s clear influences of The Punisher, Deadpool, Justice League and even Doom Patrol here but the way this is mashed up together to create this gem gives the series a wholly original and fresh perspective on the genre.
There’s a fair amount of exposition here but it’s cleverly delivered through news reports and various adverts that crop up on television screens, either in crowded areas or more intimate scenes involving a couple of people. Given how many characters there are in the show, even silent, supporting characters like Black Noir get enough screen-time to flesh out their personalities which is great to see.
Ultimately though The Boys works as well as it does thanks to its progressive character development and solid plotting. There’s a good amount of work done here to make The Boys feel similar in tone to other shows in this genre but original enough that it all feels very refreshing and different to what else is out there. In a climate dominated by cookie-cutter Marvel projects and fluctuating DC quality, The Boys steps up and delivers an exciting, engrossing slice of anti-superhero action. It’s brutal, gruesome and easily a contender for best TV show of the year.