‘The Boys’: What’s behind the mask?

Amazon Prime premiered “The Boys” this past summer, giving a glimpse at the reality of corrupt superheroes with relevant themes that has the audience rooting for a new group of vigilantes. Image By: Max Homstad and Photo Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly

The fall season is almost upon us, and what better way to prepare for the upcoming premieres than to look back at one of the summer’s biggest hits. Offering an antithesis of the superhero genre, “The Boys” manages to be simultaneously provocative and fun in its approach.

“The Boys” is set in an alternate reality where superheroes are exploited for money and worshiped as celebrities. When mild-mannered Hughie Campbell’s girlfriend is killed in a freak accident by a superhero, he teams up with the aggressive, yet skilled, Billy Butcher and his team. They conspire to put a stop to The Seven — the world’s most revered team of superheroes. The series delves into the superheroes’ psyches and what happens when such individuals lack accountability for their actions.

The show is a welcome reinvention of the typical superhero show. Rather than being just another series about people with superpowers who do good, “The Boys” offers an honest look at what might happen if superheroes really exist. The heroes’ actions and the way they cope with their problems feel genuine and thoughtful, making viewers sympathetic even after they commit the vilest deeds. The characters’ world feels eerily real, making it all the more poignant.

None of this praise should take away from the titular team trying to take the heroes down. Each member of The Boys provide their own organic and realistic reasons for wanting to end The Seven. The juxtaposition of this misfit vigilante team against a group of virtual gods creates a fascinating dichotomy that drives the show — one where both sides are understandable yet one side is nobler than the other.

Special praise should be given to Karl Urban’s Billy Butcher and Anthony Starr’s Homelander — The Seven’s Superman-like leader. Each of them provides real depth to their characters, making them feel fleshed out and leaving viewers in eager anticipation. The fact that their characters are opposites only enhances the show, as the two talented actors manage to create such a tense yet amazing dynamic. It makes the audience eagerly await each scene as they inevitably end up on a collision course.

“The Boys” is honestly a show that provides a functionally perfect look at what it would be like if superheroes existed in our world. It is sorely needed in a media landscape increasingly dominated by superheroes, and is a must-watch for any viewer. On account of its alluring plot, fantastic characters and amazing acting, I cannot recommend this show enough — especially if you are a fan of the genre.

Final Grade: A+

Joseph Marz is a TV columnist for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of his work, click here.

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