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Review: The Boys (Season 1)

The Boys is Amazon Prime’s newest addition to the seemingly endless slew of cape fuelled media flooding our media feeds. Granted, this onslaught of comic book adaptations has been slowed to a halt due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The only new comic book based media at the moment is The Boys, and thank god for that because it’s one of the best superhero offerings to date. I know I know, I’m late to the Boys hype train. Covid has given me plenty of time to catch up on and revisit some of the shows and movies I missed during their first run and to examine them with perhaps a more critical lens than the day one fans were able to which is really about the only thing to positively come out of this pandemic. Now, enough preamble and on to the review proper.

The Boys season 1 is a bloody, brutal and brilliant series. While I was late to the show, I had luckily read the first two volumes of the comic book and was probably more prepared for the tone and vibe of the series than more casual viewers were. To give you the cliffnotes, The Boys is set in an alternate reality where mega corporations and media publicists rule the world through stock prices and PR campaigns. I know what you’re thinking, how is this an alternate reality? The twist this time round is that the corporations have a new asset with which to curry favour. Superheroes. In the world of The Boys, we are introduced to The seven, a loose Justice League parody endorsed and run by the fictional megacorp Vought International, a PR and media giant. The company does everything in their power to maintain the image of The Seven, because superheroes sell. Underneath the facade of heroism however, the Seven are not what they appear to be. Instead of the gallant deeds we’re used to in our superhero media, The Seven are corrupt, morally bankrupt and incredibly careless regarding collateral damage. Opposing this sheen of consummate professionalism is The Boys, a ragtag group led by ex-CIA agent Billy Butcher. There is far more to say about the world of The Boys, but that is the basics.

Everybody in this show shines acting wise. The highlights for me unsurprisingly are Homelander and Butcher. Anthony Starr’s turn as the sadistic, psychopathic Superman stand in is absolutely brilliant and I feel genuinely uneasy when he is on screen purely because of how well acted and unstable he is. Butcher is also fantastic. Karl Urban rarely turns in a bad role, and his terrible cockney accent aside this role is no different. His sneering contempt for “supes” and his brutal fixation of vengeance for his presumed dead wife make him a fascinating character to watch. He is a man on a mission. A brutal, violent, gory mission. The other actors are also all very good and go quite far in making the world of the boys feel like a living, breathing environment and the characters all feel incredibly gritty and grounded. My personal favourite performance however, has to come from Chase Crawford. Crawford plays The Deep, the thinly veiled Aquaman equivalent, and I absolutely adore his performance. While starting out as one of the most dislikable characters, within the course of a season the writers manage to turn Deep into one of the most fleshed out and sympathetic characters in the entire show. This is only possible through the brilliant acting of Crawford. Going at once from powerful and pervading to pathetic and pitiful, the character is easily one of the most interesting and entertaining parts of the show and I cannot wait to see where his character is headed next. 

The production of the show is also incredible. With the backing and budget of Amazon, the show has a slick yet gritty look to it, and the costuming department did a fantastic job at creating superhero costumes that look both accurate and realistic for the most part. The writing of the show is also fantastic. The dialogue is superb and speaks to the gritty and raw aspect of the show’s production. The entire show has this cynical view on superheroes, which is ironic considering that it is one of the best superhero media pieces currently out there.

VERDICT: There really isn’t much to say from a negative perspective. I supposed some people might find the cynicism and lack of proper action tiring or condescending, and there are likely people out there that dislike the romance subplot regarding Hughie and Starlight. I like all of these aspects however, and I would give this series a solid 9/10. 

Also please dear god never show me Deep’s gills again. I’m incredibly disgusted. 

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