Superheroes are flying about everywhere these days. It feels like every month there’s a new Marvel movie, or a new show about some saint-like saviour, swooping about in Lycra, saving the day. Again. Anyone else bored? Well, bring in The Boys, where the heroes are unhinged, potty-mouthed sociopaths.
And they all live in a world where supers are common. In fact, they’re everywhere – slapped on billboards, perched on talk show sofas and on grinning on TV adverts. So naturally, they’ve got some bloodsucking corporate PR company selling their souls: Vought International. Among their clientele are The Seven, the heroes who act as the shiny public persona of superpowered people, all smiles to the camera, and all corruption off it, lead by violent and cocky Homelander. However, The Seven have an enemy in The Boys, who team together to bring them down and bring moral justice.
In the opposition we have Billy Butcher, who teams up with Hughie Campbell after one of The Seven mows down his girlfriend, killing her whilst she held his hand. They’re then joined by Annie January, a young hero who becomes embittered when she’s sexually assaulted whilst attending an interview for Vought. They recruit weapons specialist Frenchie, schemer Mother’s Milk and their test subject, Kimiko. And off they go on what is essentially a gang warfare mission of “my power’s bigger than yours.”
It’s irreverent and hilarious, just the right amount of over the top and gloriously gritty. Our good guys aren’t shiny, futuristic skyscrapers, but hopping from dive bar to dive bar via a grubby alley or two. And they operate with such anarchic, vigilante energy you can’t help but root for them.
The show was met with praise upon release, with The Guardian’s Graeme Virtue giving it four stars, and saying The Boys is a “welcome respite from Marvel overkill.” He calls it “gleeful, violent and blackly comic, a raucous rocket full of Kryptonite.” Ed Power in The Telegraph joins him in giving four stars to this “free-wheeling, irreverent,’ series, saying it “offers an astute commentary on popular culture’s obsession with superheroes.”
And with these reviews for season one, it’s unsurprising that the show was renewed for another, which went down equally well. Dave Itzkoff in the New York Times calls it “more relevant that ever,” offering “the opportunity to comment on the rampant ubiquity of superhero stories in film and television while breaking away from the genre’s conventional good-versus-evil binary.”
First shown July 2019. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.