‘The Boys’ Season 1 Review: ‘Watchmen’ on Steroids


I finally binged the Amazon Prime original superhero series ‘The Boys’ and it flew past any and all expectations I had. Join me as I gush, won’t you?

Hand up, I didn’t know The Boys was a comic book series. I’m not a comic book guy. When I saw the promos on TV, the title threw me off. I thought it was a reference to the superhero community being a “boys club”? I have a weird aversion to that expression, so I sort of brushed off “tuning in”. I thought, here’s another lame attempt to capitalize on the superhero craze.

Luckily, the sheer volume of promo TV spots (aired back-to-back 100% of the time for some reason) and the tagline “Never Meet Your Heroes” got the best of me. My curiosity was at zero chill.

After bingeing all of Season 1 in less than 2 days, I’m almost embarrassed by how much I like this show and how long it took me to finally cave in and give it a shot.

The Boys is like a less dreary, more comical and more contemporary Watchmen. Like, an alternate version of Watchmen where the real-life “supes” (read: superheroes) still do dirty shit BUT their transgressions are masked and covered up by a massive corporation called Vought that markets and monetizes the supes. Much like some high profile athletes and celebrities, the superheroes aren’t always what their public personas project. Alliteration, bitches.

Here’s the official description from Reddit:

“THE BOYS is an irreverent take on what happens when superheroes, who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as Gods, abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good. It’s the powerless against the super powerful as The Boys embark on a heroic quest to expose the truth about “The Seven,” and their formidable Vought backing.”

I honestly don’t have any criticism of the show. It’s as close to perfect as you can get. It was the 38th top-rated TV show by IMDb users. The casting was spot-on, so let’s start with a quick rundown of the characters…

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

VOUGHT’S THE SEVEN

The equivalent of Justice League or The Avengers. Made up of the seven top superheroes including:

STARLIGHT / ANNIE JANUARY (Erin Moriarty)

Starlight’s the rookie, a newcomer filling the void left by Lamplighter who “retired”. I put that in quotes because I have a feeling we’ll see what really happened to him in Season 2.

Annie reminds me of a blonde Selena Gomez meets Brie Larson‘s Captain Marvel with a touch of January Jones as Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class, but after a quick search, it looks like comic book nerds are comparing her to somebody called Dr. Light and The Dazzler along with Jubilee from the X-Men.

Her eye-opening journey from naive n00b through the weeds of Vought’s corporate red tape to pure force was easy to root for. I’d still like to see her succumb to the trappings of celebrity and power at some point, possibly when she’s on Homelander’s level of popularity, but something tells me she’ll get snuffed at the peak of her climb.

TRANSLUCENT (Alex Hassell)

Translucent is like Kevin Bacon‘s Hollow Man meets Invisible Woman from Fantastic Four. The catch here is he can only be invisible when he’s fully naked, which renders most of his “wins” as creepy.

In his defense, you’ve got this power, you can make serious cash from it, and what’s the alternative? Not help when you know you can? Have that hanging on your conscience? At some point, you come to terms with it because it’s for the good of humanity. User your power for good, not evil.

But, that rationale erodes after years of being constantly portrayed as an infallible god-like idol. At some point, your brain convinces you that you can do no evil. Who are you hurting when no can see or know (or even do anything about) your transgressions? That line of thinking is essentially the moral of this story – the corruptibility of near-limitless power.

BLACK NOIR (Nathan Mitchell)

Black Noir is like Black Panther meets G.I. Joe‘s Snake Eyes. The Silent Bob of The Seven is arguably one of the most beloved characters on the show and I firmly believe it’s because he can’t talk.

Words hurt. You open your mouth and you open yourself up to scrutiny. You can’t speak your mind and you free yourself from judgement. Think about pets. We have no idea what pets are thinking. They could be total assholes but we don’t know because they can’t talk. We can make or mold them into whatever our pliable brains want them to be.

I’ve got a hunch we’re gonna get a lot more of Black Noir in Season 2 and the reveal / fall-out could be soul-shattering to his fanboys and girls.

THE DEEP (Chace Crawford)

The Deep is like Aquaman. Take ALL the jokes that have ever existed about Aquaman (and there are a lot) then apply them to The Deep. In all other forms of media, Aquaman’s never really had to deal with said ridicule at his expense unless you count Robot Chicken.

The Deep is the show’s main source of comic relief (mostly after the first few scenes), which says a lot about the show considering The Deep’s first few scenes. If you haven’t seen the series yet, this is one of the most challenging redemption stories in scripted entertainment. It’s also bananas how forgiving we are to hot people. You hot? That’s cool.

A-TRAIN (Jessie T. Usher)

A-Train reminds me of Anthony Mackie‘s Falcon or a superhuman version of the Atlanta Braves mascot The Freeze (see video below).

The more appropriate comparison would be to The Flash or Quiksilver.

Vought has painted A-Train as this flashy, brash player who’s too fast for feelings but we see a very different side over the course of the series.

A-Train’s backstory is gritty and tragic and Vought actively suppresses that because it doesn’t fit within its marketing plan for him. Little do they know that A-Train’s pain would probably connect more with people.

QUEEN MAEVE (Dominique McElligott)

Maeve is like Xena Warrior Princess meets Wonder Woman. We come to find out she was a major inspiration for Starlight and probably had a relationship with Homelander. She’s seen and done it all, so she’s about as jaded as they come and that’s resulted in what appears to be a drinking problem. Though, who doesn’t want a nice, crisp martini in the morning?

We just sort of scratched the surface of Maeve’s character in Season 1 and I’m hoping we dive deeper in Season 2. Starlight has awoken something deep down within Maeve and it seems like she’ll come out of cruise control.

HOMELANDER (Antony Starr)

Homelander is like Zack Morris meets Jerry O’Connell meets Captain America meets Superman with a big-time Christ complex and some Oedipus vibes mixed in for good measure.

His name is derived from Homeland Security, a department created in response to the attacks on 9/11. Just like that office, Homelander hits a chord with the reddest of red staters and red-blooded Americans. He’s the living, breathing embodiment of “These colors don’t run”. Of all The Seven members, Homelander plays up to his brand the best. If Antony Starr doesn’t get nominated for some kind of award, there is no justice.

VOUGHT

The most direct comparison you could make for Vought would be Marvel or DC Comics but after seeing that Vought also owns and operates their own news network, Vought feels a lot like Fox.

The corporation is synergistic as hell. In addition to their news network, they produce movies, TV shows, books, merchandise and have promotional partnerships out the ass just to name a few. They’re everywhere you look, which isn’t great when one of their supes turns someone you love into a puddle right in front of your face. PTSD on loop.

Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue)

Elizabeth Shue has still got it, folks. As Vought’s Senior VP of Hero Management, she’s skyrocketing up the corporate ladder as she crafts the brands of The Seven, strikes deals, and puts out fires. She’s also got a very interesting relationship with her “top dog” Homelander.

In the corporate world, Stillwell is the superhero. To the employees she manages, she’s always in control and has all the answers. She flies in and saves the day when shit goes sideways. As the series progresses, we see she’s very much human.

Just like the superheroes she manages, she has the employee-facing persona and the behind-closed-doors persona. And even though she represents the evil boss at the evil corporation, the writers make sure to tug at our strings and make her relatable.

THE BOYS

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HUGHIE CAMPBELL (Jack Quaid)

Simon Pegg was originally supposed to play Hughie as he was the basis of the character created for the comic book, but because the series took so long to get into production, he ends up playing Hughie’s father.

Instead, Hughie’s played by Dennis Quaid’s son, Jack Quaid, who did a phenomenal job in the rom-com Plus One. In the first episode, Hughie loses his girlfriend in what appears to be a freak accident with one of The Seven supes and is recruited by Billy Butcher, the leader of “The Boys”.

BILLY BUTCHER (Karl Urban)

Billy Butcher is like Hugh Jackman‘s Wolverine without the claws and healing powers (I assume). Every line out of this character is classic. A quote machine. He freely sprinkles “cunt” and “twat” into most conversations, he’s got strong thoughts on God, and a profound monologue about the Spice Girls.

Like Hughie, he’s lost a loved one to a Supe and wants revenge. His extreme distrust of superheroes clouds his conscience and leads him on a path of self-destruction. And he’s bringing down others with him.

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MOTHER’S MILK (Laz Alonso)

When Billy Butcher is in Team Recruit / Assemble mode, he visits Mother’s Milk at what appears to be a juvenile delinquent detention center. Of course, Mother’s Milk wants no part of Billy’s plan but ends up joining. We get glimpses and intimations of Billy’s past infractions via Mother’s Milk. And the way we learn about them is packaged in a playful way. It makes for a more visceral response when we see Billy in action.

We learn that Mother’s Milk is a family man who’s somewhat pussy-whipped by his wife. The reaction to this version of the character has been mixed. Apparently, his home / family life in the comics is a whole lot more fucked up.

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FRENCHIE (Tomer Capon)

Frenchie’s another crowd favorite and I have to believe it’s because of his accent. Or it could be how he peels his own onion back with darkly comical anecdotes about his father and his upbringing. Frenchie’s got a girl — Cherie (Jordana Lajoie) — who’s very intense and induces fear boners, but it appears that kinky attraction has run its course with the weapons expert.

The Female Swipe Sticker by The Boys for iOS & Android | GIPHY

THE FEMALE | KIMIKO (Karen Fukuhara)

While on a mission, The Boys stumble across a woman held captive who becomes known as The Female and later Kimiko. She’s not from around these parts but she knows how to turn a human body into parts and she wants to get back to her homeland.

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Episode 1: The Name of the Game

“When a Supe kills the love of his life, A/V salesman Hughie Campbell teams up with Billy Butcher, a vigilante hell-bent on punishing corrupt Supes — and Hughie’s life will never be the same again.”

  • Right off the bat the special effects are amazing…
    • Queen Maeve putting a shoulder into that Brinks truck
    • A-Train running through Hughie’s girlfriend Robin (origin story of a super villain?)
    • Translucent’s fight with Billy Butcher in the electronics store where Billy realizes he can splash blood on Translucent to see him
    • Homelander’s laser eyes look great and the damage done by his laser eyes is even better — him taking down the Baltimore mayor’s private jet was a legendary moment that locked everyone in for the entire series
  • Simon Pegg with an American accent is jarring
  • A-train sucks — like a prima donna wide receiver, the complete opposite of a team player who seems like he takes his talents and people for granted. Little do we know…
  • Hughie’s first meeting with Billy Butcher — BILLY: “Oh? What do I look like?” | HUGHIE: “You look like you’re in the porn version of The Matrix
  • As far as I know, this is the first time the human race has ever seen a person dive into a vagina. Between this lascivious scene at the secret superhero club and Tommy Lee getting a girl to squirt in the opening scene of “The Dirt“, we’ve had a bang-up year for vagina’s superpowers.
  • Ezekiel is a supe who profits from being a devout Christian, but he’s actually gay. He gets head while giving two guys handies on a couch across the room. That scene in the secret nightclub for supes is a masterclass in building a world for viewers.

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Episode 2: Cherry

The Boys get themselves a Superhero (Translucent), Starlight stops a rape, Homelander gets naughty, and a Senator gets naughtier (blindfolded, pics of him fucking big ol fat hairy dude called Doppelganger).

  • The A-Train meeting with the Make-a-Wish Kid was dark comedy at its finest. A-TRAIN: “Maybe I can teach you how to run” KID: “Will you teach me to outrun cancer?”

  • One Redditor pointed out “Homelander is pretty much what a lot of people (and Batman) in the DCEU feared Superman was” in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. While half of civilians idolize Superman, the other half is suspicious and weary of someone that seemingly indestructible. 
  • Hughie pops his cherry by blowing up Translucent with a cherry bomb — most fans are up in arms about it since Translucent wouldn’t have exploded, his insides would explode, but his impenetrable diamond skin would stay intact. I’d love to knock that criticism but once something sticks in my craw, it’s hard to dislodge. As of right now, no one’s sad Translucent’s gone. 

Episode 3: Get Some

“It’s the race of the century. A-Train versus Shockwave, vying for the title of World’s Fastest Man. Meanwhile, the Boys are reunited and it feels so good.”

  • Butcher and Homelander staring each other down at the stadium got the juices flowing for sure.
  • The Boys’ investigation leads to A-Train’s secret D-list fuck buddy, a Supe named Popclaw, whose movie releases definitely have a porn-ish feel to them. They convince her to rat out A-Train, she hates that A-Train won’t take their relationship public, sees him say he’s single on TV after the race, and decides to take a shit ton of Compound V, lift a ton of weights, then seduce the landlord into a fantasy role-play scenario where she sits on the landlord’s face so he can eat ass and she ends up crushing his skull. POPCLAW FTW

  • Homelander at the race between A-Train and Shockwave – “Let’s hear it for my boy A-Train!! Huh?” then muttering “You fucking cocksuckers.” The line that perfectly encapsulates Homelander’s disdain for humans. Has to be what most celebs feel at one point or another.

  • Vought tries to push a very sexy costume on Starlight and she’s not into it or Vought’s reasoning for it but caves. Her scene with the little girl wearing her old costume is a gut-wrencher that will make your insides die
  • This show really does a great job of balancing tension and horror with humor

Episode 4: The Female of the Species

“On a very special episode of The Boys… an hour of guts, gutterballs, airplane hijackings, madness, ghosts, and one very intriguing Female. Oh, and lots of heart — both in the sentimental sense, and in the gory literal sense.”

  • The Deep tries to save a dolphin from Oceanland, a Sea World-esque amusement park that The Deep is paid to promote — pretty sure he’s having sex with it

  • Homelander and Queen Maeve try to save a plane from a hijackers flying over neutral waters. The rescue mission will show Congress that Vought should land a national security / military contract. The former flames kill the hijackers but fuck up the plane controls in the process. Maeve wants to save everyone,  but Homelander’s like nah and shoots off the shocking line “I will laser every fucking one of you” The whole plane sequence rattled me.

  • Someone on Reddit pointed out that Homelander almost looked like he was giving a Hitler salute when he said “God bless America” and that speech was reminiscent of George W. Bush post-9/11.
  • Hughie dating Annie / Starlight seemed like he was moving too fast and not grieving the loss of his girlfriend but just when that thought pops in your ol’ bean, we see him have visions of Robin. The relationship is believable because she has been sheltered in Iowa and is horrified by NYC
  • We get introduced to The Female – one of the guards shoots himself in the head rather than deal with her, a perfect show-don’t-tell screenwriting maneuver.
  • Butcher talks Spice Girls, a tough-guy-showing-his-softer-side writing device that works like a charm.

Episode 5: Good for the Soul

“The Boys head to the Believe Expo to follow a promising lead in their ongoing war against the Supes. There might — MIGHT — be a homicidal infant, but you’ll have to see for yourself.”

  • There are a slew of killer quotes throughout the show but Hughie telling Ezekiel “you played my butt like jazz… with poise and skill and willingness to improvise” ranks near the top of the list.
  • Another line that ranks high was Mother’s Milk telling Hughie “You’re the Rainman of fucking over people” and our hopes for Hughie and Starlight ending up together snap back to reality
  • Butcher uses a baby with laser eyes to fend off security at the lab where Vought’s pumping infants with Compound V. Gotta side with Billy on his assessment, “Diabolical”

  • We see The Female’s got healing powers after her fight with Black Noir. I was a bit baffled by Noir taking off post-squabble instead of going after Frenchie.

  • Frenchie and The Female are on a fast track to Relationship-Land. And I’m sure Cherie won’t be happy about it. Frenchie’s tired of being abused, wants to nurture.
  • Starlight’s mom is the worst, she’s the embodiment of Dance Moms and Beauty Pageant mothers, BUT how many parents would turn down that opportunity? You’re set for life.
  • Homelander is not the jealous boyfriend, he’s the jealous child, suckling on Stillwell’s finger like he’s breastfeeding. Ooo mama.
  • ANOTHER underrated line at the expo comes from Billy – “Security tighter than a choir boy’s asshole”
  • Mother’s Milk revealing he’s an Episcopalian was a nice lil’ nugget

Episode 6: The Innocents

“SUPER IN AMERICA (2019). Vought Studios. Genre: Reality. Starring: Homelander, Queen Maeve, Black Noir, The Deep, A-Train, Starlight, Tara Reid, Billy Zane.”

  • Vought’s full speed ahead on producing a reality TV series that further cements The Seven’s favorable position with the viewing public. I don’t know why but it does feel beneath them. As a producer mentions, the show’s got a Bravo / HGTV feel to it, which is weird when they’re already making billions on theatrical titles.
  • Homelander visits his “home” which is all staged. One of the set designers puts his blanket — the one real thing from his childhood days in the lab — on the bed and it triggers Homelander. The rage on this guy is palpable.
  • We see Melrose from Glow as the producer. There’s some kind of chemical reaction that goes on in my brain when I see a relatively lesser known actor from one show appear on another. The producer orders her crew to to eavesdrop on Maeve as she has another serious talk with her ex-girlfriend. That same producer asks A-Train questions about his background and he opens up about his real backstory, which includes gun violence and she tries to steer him away from that.
  • Starlight continues to resist Vought’s phony, fabricated arc for her and stands up for herself. She is the modern authoritative female (a parallel to but also threat to Madelyn Stillwell) and it’s expertly juxtaposed with Queen Maeve’s muted, subdued / sedated survival story
  • The Collateral Damage Grief Counseling scene expertly balances tragedy with comedy. Black Marketing Guy (Sean? Seth?) reveals that he banged a superhero who had an orgasm that broke his dong off and we get Butcher putting up barriers left and right
  • After apologizing to Starlight in a public address on Vought News (which many compared to the Kobe Bryant apology), The Deep is exiled to Sandusky, Ohio (the setting for Tommy Boy), which makes my brain think of child molester Jerry Sandusky.

  • The Deep acts like he cares about the environment then we see him behind the wheel of a diesel Hummer. That’s some tasty irony.
  • While in Ohio, The Deep is subject to a drive-by put-down — “FUCK YOU FISH DICK!” and The Deep’s automated response is spot-on “Keep speaking your truth!”
  • We meet Mesmer, a supe who was a former child actor that has the Bruce Willis in Unbreakable ability to see people’s memories when he touches them. He’s played by… Haley Joel Osment. Whomever cast this thing has a sixth sense. Also, I really didn’t think Mesmer deserved this fate. Guy just had a drug problem, no?

  • Butcher refuses help from Agent Susan Raynor (Jennifer Esposito) because of a demand he knows Raynor can’t authorize (putting Homelander behind bars) so he can take down Homelander himself

Episode 7: The Self-Preservation Society

“Never trust a washed-up Supe (Mesmer) — the Boys learn this lesson the hard way. Meanwhile, Homelander digs into his past, Starlight discovers that love hurts (sleeps with Hughie but finds out he’s part of this plan to take down The Seven, and if you’re ever in Sandusky, Ohio and a girl asks if she can touch your gills, say NO.”

  • Black Noir is Homelander’s favorite because he does what he’s told and doesn’t talk back.
  • The Deep trying to save a lobster was yet another amazing piece of dark comedy

  • The Deep gets his gills fingered by a rando in Ohio. THIS… of all the fucked up stuff we’ve seen… was the most disturbing scene.
  • We get introduced to Mallory – who was mentioned earlier by Mother’s Milk when he spoke of a mission gone wrong with Butcher. I thought she was dead. Turns out she’s a bird watcher, which somehow beat out being an alcoholic. The willpower on that woman.
  • Homelander’s expose on Hughie and The Boys to Starlight in The Seven room really shows how easy a conspiracy can be. Maeve’s “save” shows she’s still got some power.
  • A-Train takes Hughie’s dad hostage, Hughie shows up presumably alone but A-Train gets attacked with a pipe by Kimiko / The Female and breaks his leg. That was set up earlier when A-Train’s bro talks about how Compound V has turned his bone density to shit
  • Starlight takes two bullets from Butcher — did Butcher know? This is the moment when it finally hit me that Billy might just be a psychopath.

  • Butcher kills Mesmer the same way (SPOILER) Brad Pitt‘s character Cliff Booth took down one of Charlie Manson‘s followers during the home invasion scene in Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
  • Homelander tracking down the truth — re: Becca, Butcher’s wife — Butcher thought Homelander raped her and either killed herself or was killed by Homelander (one in the same), Dr. Vogelbaum tells Homelander “You’re my greatest failure”, which was a swift punch to the stomach

Episode 8: You Found Me

“Season Finale Time! Questions answered! Secrets revealed! Conflicts… conflicted! Characters exploded! And so much more!”

  • Is Starlight pregnant? She has to cut a flirt sesh short with some soldier to vomit. Is it a Pavlovian response to her time with The Deep? Her falling in line with Vought’s awful plot has physical repercussions. She’s wired to be a real human superhero
  • We think Stillwell’s got everything under control because of how she handles herself but she’s just human after all
  • Homelander looking into Stillwell’s eyes and lasering them. Ooooooooh shit. This guy is officially off The Deep end. Frying Butcher’s bargaining chip and calling his bluff.

  • Butcher then ups the ante by blowing up e’erbody — even Stillwell’s baby?!? This just in — His last name is accurate. Is this a look into Hughie’s future?
  • A Tale of Two Fucks – Homelander orgasms in 10 seconds with Stillwell but can last 3 hours with Butcher’s wife Becca because of his mommy fetish
  • What a move by Homelander to save Butcher just so he can DEVASTATE him 

When we first see Butcher laying there on the grass, I got that “Aw crap, it was all a dream” feeling followed by the brain-fart “Butcher can time travel?”. The true ending was lurking in the back of my mind the whole time but I still got chills.

Thank Compound V, Season 2 is currently shooting.

What I’m hoping we see in Season 2:

More insight into / exposition of Homelander and Maeve’s relationship

Repeated failed attempts to redeem The Deep

Starlight struggling to resist the temptations of celebrity life / following footsteps of The Seven

A-Train somehow survives or is reanimated and turns on The Seven but doesn’t join The Boys, instead becomes a mercernary

We find out the impetus behind Lamplighter “retiring”

We’re introduced to the other Supes teased in Season 1 (like Tek Knight?)

The Black Noir twist / reveal

Cherie coming back to ruin lives in a very scary sexy way

Stillwell’s baby survived the explosion

Butcher and Raynor have a boning for the ages

The Boys on Compound V

Whatcha Got?

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