The Boys Season 1 is an eight-episode superhero series from Amazon Prime. Adapted from the dark, funny, and at times repulsive graphic novels by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, The Boys S1 manages to provide a fresh take in what is probably the most popular (and successful) genre of this generation.
Fans of the graphic novel were rightly apprehensive when the show was announced. A tale of superheroes caught up in their own hype, feeding into the excesses of their lifestyle and behaving with impunity from the law thanks to their powers – the superheroes in this tale are certainly not Superman or Captain America. The graphic novel is known for its unfiltered take on superheroes exploiting their position in society and behaving in the most awful of ways. After watching The Boys Season 1, it is clear to see that the fans will not be disappointed. The show keeps the filth and depravity that made the graphic novels stand out from other tales – it places a lens on how modern society is so quick to place people on pedestals with barely any understanding of what they are truly like as people. The Boys Season 1 is a superhero satire that perfectly deconstructs the superhero genre whilst tackling serious real world issues.
On top of this, there needs to be a good story. Thankfully, The Boys Season 1 keeps things nice and simple. Following the death of his girlfriend at the hands of a member of The Seven – a warped version of The Justice League – Wee Hughie joins forces with a team of regular folk pissed off with the ‘Supes’ not being taken to account for their actions. Hughie is an easy character to root for. His complete sincerity and genuine grievance against the arrogant superheroes make him easy to root for. Recruited by the sadistic, vengeful Billy Butcher (played by Karl Urban in a perfectly cast role), he joins The Boys – a group intent on showing the world that the superheroes are nothing more than corrupt, egotistical sociopaths. The Boys Season 1, as with all great stories, needed a strong villain for our heroes to go up against, and Homelander knocks it out the park. The leader of The Seven, and Captain America wannabe, smiles for the cameras and says all the right words but behind the scenes, he is shown to be a sick, selfish, and sadistic individual. Every scene with Homelander or Butch is must-see TV with Karl Urban and Antony Starr smashing it in their respective roles.
The Boys Season 1 holds nothing back in terms of the gore and violence. From Hughie left holding his girlfriend’s hands as the rest of her body is torn away from him, to death by orgasm and a disturbing scene involving a dolphin that must be seen to be believed – The Boys S1 is more than able to hold up against its comic counterpart. It straddles the line between disturbing and oddly hilarious thanks to the strong writing and a cast that goes all in on their characters. The ultraviolence is balanced with strong bonds built between characters who genuinely seem to care for one another. The found family aspect of The Boys, the budding romance between Hughie and innocent The Seven newcomer Starlight, Frenchie caring for The Female – all these threads and moments are earned and manage to ground the story with some heart amidst the gore and violence.
Bloody, violent, and sickeningly funny – The Boys Season 1 is a superhero show that stands out from the crowded field and delivers a story with heart. If you are even a bit squeamish around sex and violence, this is not the show for you. It is excessive, extreme, and downright insane at times but if you can stomach it, The Boys Season 1 is a some of the best TV you will see this year.