The Boys: Season 1 discussion   Show Only 
July 29, 2019 3:15 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Supes have been committing atrocities, which keep getting swept under the rug because they are revered by the adoring public. Billy Butcher recruits The Boys who have all been wronged by The Seven, the world’s most notorious superheroes, to bring them down and stop the corruption.

Based on the best-selling comics by Garth Ennis, The Boys is a revenge story where the nobodies take on the somebodies.

Amazon already ordered Season 2 before the premiere.
posted by KTamas (70 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I mostly loved it?

In the age of MCU, it's nice to see something that gleefully subverts all the superhero tropes. It reminds me of The Watchmen somewhat.

Everything is over the top and I think they manage to pull it off. It's cynical as fuck and I'm okay with it but I'm guessing that will turn some people off. Frenchie is probably my favorite of The Boys, just a great character overall. Erin Moriarty's Starlight is great as well, I'm curious where will they take her character come Season 2. Homelander is a great villain, and I really liked Maeve as well though she feels a bit underdeveloped. Elizabeth Shue as Madelyn is just brilliant.

I think my biggest gripe would be The Deep, who just doesn't really make a compelling character. "I was the diversity hire", he says, and I was like, what diversity? Also, the sex scene in Episode 7 was just so gross.

I do have some worries where they will take this in Season 2 but I won't spoil myself with the comics.
posted by KTamas at 3:32 AM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

I watched the first half hour of the first episode and between the woman who explodes in a cloud of blood and the sexual assault I decided that it just was not a show for me.
posted by Tevin at 5:06 AM on July 29, 2019 [6 favorites]

The comic was the kind of gleefully transgressive smartass grimdarkery that was all the rage fifteen-ish years ago. They did enough of the work to make it something workable for this era that it mostly works. But it retains enough of the off-putting stink it started with that I won't blame anyone for noping the fuck out with extreme prejudice.

I'm about four and a half episodes in and I'm interested to see if they can build up any kind of thematic weight from the superhero satire.

It's nice to see Antony Starr again, who was so good as "Sherriff Hood" in Banshee.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:07 AM on July 29, 2019 [9 favorites]

I've got some sort of summer cold this weekend and watched the whole series straight through yesterday. I thought it was very well made and very watchable even though I wouldn't have thought I'd be interested in another subverting of super hero tropes.

The level of gore is absolutely bonkers. Putting the blood explosion in the first ten minutes might have been a good idea because it lets viewers know early how things are going to go.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:20 AM on July 29, 2019 [6 favorites]

I have a lot of affection for Garth Ennis’ work, but a lot of it has not aged well into 2019.

The Amazon series is a straightforward adaptation of the comic, but with many of the deeper-cut comic book in-jokes sanded off. It’s going to make the material more accessible to folks encountering it for the first time, but it also means the messed-up aspects have less room to hide.

A lot of horrible things happen to people in this series, but there’s a pattern where the most horrible things happen to women, and usually in order to provide a man with story beats/motivation.

Huey, Billy, A-Train, and arguably Frenchie’s stories all fit into that mold. Starlight is kind of an exception because her traumas provide her with motivation, which is both better... and... not.

Again, this is coming from someone who is a huge fan of GE, and I’m glad to see creator-owned works like this getting adapted. But this fave is really problematic, and I don’t think that should be glossed over, either.
posted by FallibleHuman at 7:47 AM on July 29, 2019 [14 favorites]

(To be fair, the way the show handles Becca Butcher is less fridge-y than the comic, as well.)
posted by FallibleHuman at 7:54 AM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

If the comic's treatment of women was an F, the show moseys all the way up to a C.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:58 AM on July 29, 2019 [10 favorites]

I started watching having heard little about it and nothing about the comic and was drawn in by the first episode. Have now seen all 8.

I now definitely see it's problematic in how it treats Hugh's and A-Trains girlfriends as plot motivators and character arc pulls.

I think the tone (as adapted from comic to TV) mostly fits our time, translated from George W. Bush's 9/11, Iraq War propaganda era (even the name "Homelander"...) That these lauded superheroes would routinely be guilty of sexual assault and try to cover it up of course parallels our immune-for-too-long class of billionaire oligarchs and media personalities who think their elevated station makes them above mere mortals.

There's not a whit of racial tension in these mostly integrated groups, but I'm figuring that's because "Supes" are a stand-in for the societal ladders the show aims at. (Kind of reverse of the X-Men, where the heroes are misunderstood societal outcasts, a minority just trying to get by and help...)

I thought The Seven were really well characterized, but differ from some in that I think The Boys were not. I think the really good acting made up for that. Star Trek TOS pulled off "making a character's nationality what we hinge their personality on" with Scotty and Sulu and Chekhov, but we got to know them enough over time, their inclusion was making a point about international cooperation, etc. "Frenchie" though well acted seemed clunky conceptually. He's French, get it? And here he is trying to cook a gourmet meal out of the scraps they have available when on the run... Kimiko is "characterized" just by a feral look and random violence at this point.

Billy Butcher is compelling to watch and well-acted but to be so unrelievedly tough-guy in his persona seems flat.

The "Supes" though came with our pre-expectations of their DC parallels, and everything from their posture to their uniforms (Homelander reminding you of his flag cape by brushing it aside) characterizes them. Then we see who they really are, and it's shocking, and then in a further reveal, we see how they got that way. I've been a bit late to the streaming TV thing (though caught Twin Peaks and Game of Thrones) but it's striking how much more compelling the broad strokes explanation for Homelander's evil is than the prequel "explanation" of Darth Vader (he uh... was seduced by a Sith Lord... and something about his girlfriend dying and his mother and... sand?)
posted by Schmucko at 10:25 AM on July 29, 2019 [3 favorites]

If the comic's treatment of women was an F, the show moseys all the way up to a C.

Ditto with its treatment of sexual assault, although honestly I wouldn’t start at F and go to C. I feel like it’s more start at “put this motherfucker on a list and check that every woman he’s ever encountered is ok” and goes to F? F-?

And yet I’m now on episode 8, almost entirely because of Erin Moriarty and Elizabeth Shue.

Goddamn does it make me hate Seth Rogen even more though.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:34 PM on July 29, 2019

I think the comic is what made me decide/discover that I really loathe Garth Ennis. I'd read it so long ago that I couldn't remember the plot, and thought this adaptation was a lot better than the comic. Though the later episodes really suck because you stop seeing things from Hugh and Annie's points of view. The first half of the season do a great job of this, but the narrative air is let out when we start following Homelander and his handler and The Deep and the rest. Billy's story could have been told by Hugh going along with him to learn about what happened to his wife, Annie could have found out about Homelander and the corruption with Vaught. It's just told really terribly in the last few episodes because we aren't invested in the other characters. The reveal with Billy's wife is just clunky and obvious.

Though I'd watch Karl Urban make toast, so I'd sit through a second season I suppose.
posted by Catblack at 7:14 PM on July 29, 2019 [7 favorites]

I think the comic is what made me decide/discover that I really loathe Garth Ennis.

Oof yes. It also made me forever side eye the person who recommended it to me.

Also agreed on the shifting POV thing, though I will say I like the way Homelander is humanized, and the way that’s reflected in how Stilwell manipulates him.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:29 PM on July 29, 2019 [3 favorites]

I've not watched it yet - I'm completely unafraid of spoilers - but I'm hoping it hits the same Total Brutality spot as Preacher and Happy! Why, exactly, so many nasty young British boys made the transition from pulling the legs off flies to writing comic books during the 1980s - I suppose the blame should be equally shared between Margaret Thatcher and Tharg - but I'm finding the current outpouring of hyperviolence and blood drenching quite cathartic.

I'd prefer season four of Preacher and Karl Urban as Judge Dredd, but I suppose one can't have everything.
posted by Grangousier at 5:25 AM on July 30, 2019 [6 favorites]

(I do realise Preacher will be along in due course)
posted by Grangousier at 5:42 AM on July 30, 2019

The comic for really and truly being appalled at Garth Ennis is Crossed, which is sort of like The Walking Dead with rapey zombies.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:06 AM on July 30, 2019 [5 favorites]

I just now realized that I read the first few of these comics! My college BF was a huge comics reader and I'd casually read some of his stuff. I remember not being turned off by the violence per se, but by the tone of "this is PRETTY FUCKED UP, HUH??" It just seemed to lack nuance.

I sort of want to give this a shot, but (despite knowing it will have zero impact either way) I also sort of want to protest Amazon's cancelling The Tick and then turning around and making this.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:54 AM on July 30, 2019 [10 favorites]

So any guesses as to what Karl Urban's brief on what accent to use might have looked like? He doesn't sound like a Londoner. He sometimes has broad Australian* and sometimes he sounds like Karl Urban.

*(Yes, I do)

I'm guessing Wee Hughie won't be going back to Scotland for the Highland Laddie story. It seems a waste to get Simon Pegg in as his dad and then not have him use his Scottish accent.
posted by biffa at 8:56 AM on July 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think that Urban is attempting to do some sort of unspecified working class UK accent.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:15 AM on July 30, 2019

> So any guesses as to what Karl Urban's brief on what accent to use might have looked like? He doesn't sound like a Londoner. He sometimes has broad Australian* and sometimes he sounds like Karl Urban.

I couldn't work this out. He's a Kiwi so that seemed to be the root of whatever he was trying. But Billy Butcher is supposedly a cockney so I could catch the odd phrase where Urban tried to swing that in at times. A bad cockney sometimes sounds Scottish in the hands of a foreigner, so then you had a mangled Kiwi-cockney-scottish-northern mangle of a thing. Given I'm from the UK, it dragged me out of the swing of the show most of the times he was talking. He certainly didn't sound like Michael Caine, one of the reference points for Butcher in the comics.

And why Simon Pegg had to try an american accent is beyond me. Don't do it again, Simon. Please.

Apart from that, I thought the acting at least was excellent.
posted by humuhumu at 3:14 PM on July 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

I didn't realize until I saw it online today that the actor playing Hughie looks familiar because he's Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan's son, Jack Quaid.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:00 PM on July 31, 2019 [11 favorites]

Even toned down, I can't imagine I'll be able to deal with the casual and pointless sexual violence and general violence against women.

I couldn't believe they green lit this. Or I can believe it but I am saddened by it.

Garth Ennis is a totem of everything wrong with comics these days
posted by French Fry at 6:33 AM on August 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have some logistical questions now that we know the parents were in on the baby-dosing. All those parents with barely any contact with The Corporation even to the point of knowing the blue stuff if called Compound V and not one of them ever leaked enough for any major intelligence agency to figure out that The Corporation was seeding superbabies? It's not like they were terribly subtle about it, if they had platoons of soldiers hanging around each baby while the blue drip was still going.
posted by Karmakaze at 12:33 PM on August 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm not really sure what possessed me now, but while laid up a year or two ago I read through the entirety of The Boys and my god, it is so bad. Apart from all of the juvenile button-pushing, it's like Ennis never realized that The Dark Knight, Miracleman and Watchmen already had this territory pretty well covered back in 1986; by the time his comic was first published 20 years later, there wasn't a lot left to say about "what if superheroes... were evil?" The running gag about how Butcher has trained his dog to rape other dogs for laughs was a particular low point.

Anyways, the show improves on the comics quite a bit by focuses on the more interesting conspiracy/Vought stuff and doing its best to tone down the execrable sexual politics. I agree that Karl Urban's English accent leaves a lot to be desired, but he plays the character convincingly, and I must say I was glad to see Simon Pegg's bit part.
posted by whir at 7:30 PM on August 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

At least Homelander being responsible for the distribution of BlueGoo to potential terrorists makes more sense than The Corporation doing it. They'd likely have dosed people they carefully chose and had them play the part of villains so they could control the narrative from all sides. Homelander (a) doesn't think that far ahead and (b) cares even less about collateral damage than the executives.

It also says something about the mindset behind this series that even after we find out Kimiko's name, she is "the Female" in the credits.
posted by Karmakaze at 5:37 AM on August 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

I enjoyed this -- I think it rose far above the puerile source material. I could have done with a lot less gore.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 10:17 AM on August 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm mixed on this show. I'm on ep 8 and every time I'm about to nope out there's something compelling enough to keep me going (part of that being the cast, particularly Karl Urban even with his weird fluctuating accent which I admit annoys he hell out of me).

One thing that bothers me that hasn't been mentioned here is the ongoing "joke" about how dangerous female supe orgasm is. Like the deadly cunnilingus wasn't enough, we need a man's DICK FROZEN OFF. That apparently this only happens with female supes is pretty indicative that there is still a lot of gross misogyny from the source material.

posted by miss-lapin at 9:45 AM on August 3, 2019 [7 favorites]

That was definitely shitty and I wouldn't want to minimize it. BUT, it was just the one female supe, Ice Queen, and was particular to her powers.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:49 AM on August 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

That apparently this only happens with female supes is pretty indicative that there is still a lot of gross misogyny from the source material.

I wonder whether this trope in the source material was actually a reaction to earlier comics like Marshal Law where we see male superhero sexuality result in the death of women. Ennis would no doubt have been aware of that comic.
posted by biffa at 10:07 AM on August 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Karl Urban has a fakey-fake London Estuarian/Cockney accent that becomes pure and natural Chopper Reed ozzie when he flashbacks to before his wife was made missing. I get where they're coming from, inexpert super-spy failing at hiding his identity who is actually a god-tier hooligan who maybe we shouldn't root for, but it's tough to sit through at times.
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:22 AM on August 5, 2019

That was definitely shitty and I wouldn't want to minimize it. BUT, it was just the one female supe, Ice Queen, and was particular to her powers.

It was also Popclaw.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:50 AM on August 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm only a few episodes in, but I thought the thing with Popclaw was supposed to illustrate how dangerous V was, not her sexuality in general. I.e. that presumably she knows what she's doing the rest of the time, but because she was high as a kite, she lost control and... sploosh. (Which, at least at that point in the show's plot, raises a pretty unsubtle parallel to A-Train killing Robin when he was hitting the blue juice.)

But that's basically where I am in the season right now; if they keep coming back to that particular well I can see how it would start to get... ugh.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:10 AM on August 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

The ending was really interesting, rewriting one of the worst rapes from the show and its accompanying fridging into an altogether more interesting (and less rancidly offensive) direction.

Although they had a mixed success rate, I was actually mildly impressed with the way the show drew from the more interesting themes of corporate corruption and the poisonous nature of hero worship and left much of the bullshit behind. My hope is the next season stakes out more of its own path.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:38 AM on August 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

Again though, I don't want to oversell my reaction. I'm not interested in being cast as the show's defender. It's still pretty problematic.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:44 AM on August 5, 2019

They subverted a lot of their own stuff in the series also - Becca Butcher being alive for one thing. Also the Boys not being supes themselves (yet?) and Butcher generally much earlier in his progression for superhero tamer.

I also couldn't help but think about Bezos during all the scenes about engagement, trending, and corporate greed. Here I was watching a show hanging a very big lantern on the idea of corporate for profit everything, produced and delivered to me by Amazon, who was probably tracking how often I paused episodes, which ones I watched back to back vs stopped after, what time I was watching them and when. And doing this for everyone watching the show tracking similar things to measure which Supes are relevant and which aren't.

That's my meta commentary anyway.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:08 PM on August 6, 2019 [4 favorites]

It's just told really terribly in the last few episodes because we aren't invested in the other characters. The reveal with Billy's wife is just clunky and obvious.

I have not read the book so I am little surprised to read (above) that this is apparently a change from the source material and for reasons that passeth understanding, it has changed to a crayon-obvious hackneyed trope. It's like being shown a Where's Waldo/Wally? book with all the occurrences of the elusive hero circled in red crayon. For a show that was pretty decent at zagging where we might have expected a zig, that was One Big Zig.

Living as I do in the Greater Toronto Area, I was mildly pleased to see all kinds of filming locations from previous superhero shows being reused: the scene where Stillwell and Homelander have their penultimate crossing of paths at the party is, to within a few feet, where Charles and Erik cross paths at the beginning of X-Men, the opening scene of the series with Homelander and Maeve foiling the armored car heist was shot around the corner from where a couple of subsequent Quicksilvers had a fight scene in Kick-Ass, The Female eludes pursuers in the same subway station we have seen lately in Shazam!, Suicide Squad, etc.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:31 PM on August 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

Uh I don't think this show is at all great with trope subversion. In fact it buys into a lot of tropes I really dislike (the healing power of love being a big one-quickly followed by the hero with a heart who lies but it becomes truth so his assholery is all ok-pardon me while I yak and those are just the most immediate ones-I will not bore people with my laundry list of hackneyed tropes that really that need to be retired).
One of the things that keeps me in is Frenchie and Kimiko. I really do like their connection even though it is also problematic.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:08 AM on August 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Finished the season last night. Definitely mixed feelings. I'll at least give S2 a try, because I'm interested in seeing how they play out Billy Butcher and Becca's story.

My interpretation of the end was that it was meant to be ambiguous—did she voluntarily ditch Butcher to run off with Homelander—making Butcher nothing more than a violent, jilted ex incapable of considering that She's Just Not That Into You? Or is she a captive? I noticed that one of the shots of the suburban house had a very obvious security camera in it, and throughout the show security cameras are not neutral; they're almost always indicative that Vought is watching. (Which, yeah, that's pretty ironic for Amazon, who literally makes doorbell cameras and stuff.) I certainly think that it'd be more interesting if Becca just got tired of Billy's infantile antics—I mean, do we really believe that he was actually Husband of the Year before Becca left? Color me skeptical—and decided to take a better offer that was on the table. That would really invert the whole revenge fantasy.

But it was impossible for me to watch the remaining episodes without seeing what appears to be a pattern in how it treats female sexuality; being a woman on the show who has sex is pretty much like getting picked for the Away Team and handed a red shirt. I'm trying to think of a time in the show when a woman acts on her sexual interest and isn't somehow punished for it by things rapidly going to shit around her. (Okay, one: the throwaway character who assaults The Deep. We don't ever see what happens to her, but... yeah.) Makes one a bit nervous for Kimiko and Frenchie, certainly; if they get it on, chances are looking good it'll go badly for her.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:46 PM on August 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

Late to the party! Homelander’s accent and diction sound so much like Jon Hamm doing Don Draper that it’s eerie. Close your eyes and see if you can tell them apart.
posted by sixswitch at 10:41 AM on August 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I completely agree with this review: Rich and Jay Talk About The Boys.
posted by Pendragon at 9:26 AM on August 11, 2019

I am...not super thrilled with how the show has revitalized sales of the comics, because now there's a whole bunch of fan boys "discovering" the rapey misogyny of the comics and getting really excited about it. Amazon is promoting the comics along with the show.

So that's not great.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:57 AM on August 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

[Warning, Spoilers for book]

The comic is such a product of the Bush era, i really wonder how they've tried to update it for the newer, darker era of US politics, but i'm also reading this thread because i kinda don't want to know. Ennis' strength has always been war stories, so to the extent that you dig war stories, he's serviceable.

all of the edgy sex stuff seemed overblown at the time, like with "Meet the Feebles"--there's too much glee in undermining beloved characters as rapists, vs developing how people actually have to work through trauma, like how a Jessica Jones story would work. How does anyone write this stuff after, say, anglophone giants like Toni Morrison have walked the earth?

But a couple weeks ago i found myself thinking "when did life become a Garth Ennis comic?" So maybe some wanker executive had a similar idea after the "Batman vs Superman" movie. "Hey, I know who actually wrote a sociopathic superman..."

In retrospect, the theme of de-nazification of the US military industrial complex was on point. that seemed overblown at the time, i mean, the character was called Stormfront. oh well. the sentimentality about the soviet era was sad then, sad now. let's just not think about how Garth Ennis deals with issues of race in america as a Brit writer.

I remember the comic actually tried to deal, in its way, with the issues of sexual assaults / murder of trans sex workers. Which, at the time, I think was a genuinely laudable effort if your audience is edgy cis white dudes who imagine they are cops in 2002--if you're going to premise a whole world on the silenced murders qua sexual assault, it's something you should bring up. There was a, well, useful socratic drama between the two characters of substance --"is it more important to humanize people in language or to move past your disgust and act compassionately?" In 2019, the answer is "both, asshole", and you need a character to voice that.

There's also a valence with how sexual violence against trans folks that intersects with race in america--it's really non white trans sex workers that are getting got, there's a lot to say that someone should say about the particular fragilities of non white american masculinities--that Ellis has never had any business being allowed to write anywhere near--so I doubt for that kind of question, I imagine they've cut trans rights out of the show entirely
posted by eustatic at 10:21 AM on August 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

oh crap, i just did that thing you're not supposed to do, in the show only thread, please delete
posted by eustatic at 10:35 AM on August 11, 2019

Wow Eustatic, I know this is a show only thread, but that was some seriously awesome insight. Thank you!
posted by miss-lapin at 1:17 PM on August 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ennis and Ellis are infuriatingly close names for titans of their respective time, but the critique applies to both in equal measure, and in jaw-dropping fashion, to a TV series. It's been bugging me for a while. Thank you, Eustatic.

I was just gonna comment that in the show the Soups are terrified of The Boys. I gather from my wife who read the comic that Homelander acted with a lot more impunity and a lot less rational motivation in the comic. Which makes no sense for an Ennis comic, the worst villains usually work in the most subtle ways. That Homelander is a sadistic SOB who was deliberately made into such by the Pope of the Baltimore PD i mean Scientist, and also has fears and ambitions, makes a lot more sense.

That Homelander would drag The Butcher into his own personal hell with the expectation that he'd back off once it was revealed Becca was still alive is kind of pathetic and naive. A-Train tried to pull the same crap with Hughey, A-Train is pants-stainingly afraid of Hughey and has been since the original showdown in Dad's apartment, who was having none of it with most rage-faced actor in all Hollywood. Seriously, Hughey puts on the frowny face, and someone is going to be bludgeoned into submission by quick and clear thinking. Not always death, there are clear lines drawn between The Boys we will need exploring next season...

But, yes. I expect Frenchie to confront his unnamed nemesis with his usual aplomb and ruthless skill, and they to chickenshit out once they realize their powers may not be the get-out-of-jail-free card they were lead to believe were by Gus Fring I mean Voight.

Which brings us to Mother's Milk - what the hell is he doing here? Is he the medic from the Punisher series, the weapons expert in weapons that don't work against Soups? His backstory and role is not as immediately obvious or mysterious as Frenchie, just puzzling. Also, he has an awesome nickname, how did he come by it?

Season Two better answer some of this stuff, or I will stop believing that Karl Urban is a human howitzer.

No I won't.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:19 PM on August 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was curious what the IMDb stats might say about this show--a few observations:

- 3 of 8 episodes give all 'written by' credits to women; a 4th was co-written by a woman
- 1 out of 8 episodes was directed by a woman
- The men-to-women ratio of IMDb ratings, to the extent that it's given, generally seems to skew toward men, e.g. 1.4:1 for Amazon's Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, 1.6:1 for Netflix's Always Be My Maybe, and 1.9:1 for Amazon's Good Omens
- For superhero media, the ratio is generally even more skewed, e.g. 2.4:1 for Netflix's Umbrella Academy, 4.1:1 for Wonder Woman, 5.3:1 for Captain Marvel, 6.1:1 for Avengers: Endgame, and 8.1:1 for Netflix's Punisher
- But for Amazon's The Boys, the ratio is a notable 8.8 to 1
- That said, the raw numbers seem good, way higher than Good Omens and approaching Umbrella Academy only 2.5 weeks after release

So I suspect the show improved on the comic by hiring women writers, and that's going to work out as a success. But the audience still seems very, very skewed for reasons that are pretty understandable.
posted by Wobbuffet at 12:10 AM on August 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

Aw, thanks, y'all. And yes, sorry for saying Warren Ellis when I meant Garth Ennis. The Planetary series, right? Another Bush era series that struggles with how global power falls into abuse, in reaction to all the bombs dropping at the time, and the despair that we re kind of numb to, in 2019.

Can The Boys visit Homelander, as he botches an already FUBAR drone operation in Yemen? Can they compromise Homelander 's PR campaign for Vought s weapons sales to KSA? I would watch that show

Thanks for the tip into who s writing what, perhaps I ll dip into the series mid stream and see how it is
posted by eustatic at 2:48 PM on August 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was just gonna comment that in the show the Soups are terrified of The Boys.

They’re essentially actors in this version. The only fighting we saw any of them do was against a few baseline thugs, mostly in carefully choreographed and arranged “fights”. The Boys represent an unknown enemy that genuinely seems to want the Seven dead, and they’ve never had to deal with that.

I gather from my wife who read the comic that Homelander acted with a lot more impunity and a lot less rational motivation in the comic.

Yeah, they were pretty much all just psychopaths in the book.

And every change I can think of from the books (I read them a few years back, so I may be forgetting some) is an improvement. Every one. I cannot think of a more perfect example of “The bones of a good story are in here somewhere...” than this show vs. the comics.
posted by Etrigan at 5:24 PM on August 13, 2019 [4 favorites]

I was just gonna comment that in the show the Soups are terrified of The Boys.

The Boys had actual superpowers in the comics, not just Kimiko. Plus as the story went on, had form for taking down superheroes. Will be interesting to see whether they go down that route in later seasons. Will we ever get a TV version explanation of why MM is called MM?
posted by biffa at 6:05 AM on August 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

I liked this a lot. I like how different and interesting all the characters are. There's even different and interesting personalities for multiple female characters, which should not be nearly so rare that it's notable here, but...yeah.

My main dislike was mentioned above:

there’s a pattern where the most horrible things happen to women, and usually in order to provide a man with story beats/motivation.

Would have been really nice if they could have included this in their list of tropes to overturn. I haven't read the comics and having read the comments here I don't imagine I will, but I'll watch next season for sure.
posted by randomnity at 7:24 AM on August 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

My interpretation of the end was that it was meant to be ambiguous—did she voluntarily ditch Butcher to run off with Homelander—making Butcher nothing more than a violent, jilted ex incapable of considering that She's Just Not That Into You? Or is she a captive?

The show is weird. If I wanted to give it credit for subtly I'd wonder if we're supposed to realize that Mallory lied to Butcher even more than Butcher has to the other boys. As far as I remember we don't see anything in Butcher's recollections where Becca indicates she's been assaulted or harmed in any way. She's upset about something but doesn't tell him what. We have only Mallory's statements that something untowards has happened and I'm not sure even she asserts rape; she might only talk about what has happened to Becca since.

Butcher talks about outdoor camera footage of her sitting stock-still for three hours before walking off into mystery but I don't think anyone outside Voight sees the footage of her walking out of that office with her clothes out of sorts, right? Which as far as we know is her being hustled out rudely by Homelander once he's gotten what he wants from a consensual encounter. Or perhaps hustled out in shame, since our only baseline for Homelander's sexual behavior (we never get anything about whatever sexual relationship he and Maeve had) is of a very submissive/childlike nature with Stillwell. I can completely imagine Becca being surprised by what seemed like a little extramarital dalliance turning into unusual child roleplay, getting weirded out, and Homelander throwing her out in shame.

Speaking of - Who else thought they were gonna have Stillwell outright breastfeed him during that encounter somewhere around ep 5? Thank grodd for some minor restraint there.

Anyway, I'm assuming we can't take anything for granted about the nature of Becca's situation or what got her there. I'm assuming she was treated poorly just because Voight and the supes treat everyone poorly. But for all we know she's another variation of the fellow who had his bits damaged by a thoughtless superhero and yet still works for Vought and supports the supes even though he knows how fucked up all the behind-the-scenes stuff is.

The ending was WAY off what I sincerely thought we were gonna get. When Homelander revealed what he'd done with suping up baddies around the world, I figured that we were going to see Stillwell attempting to hand over to Butcher what he needed to take down Homelander in order to help cover her/Voight's ass.
posted by phearlez at 10:11 AM on August 15, 2019

I was surprised that Chekov’s LampLighter didn’t make an appearance in the final two episodes.
posted by blueberry at 11:25 AM on August 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

OK here's my interpretation of the ambiguous ending:

Becca got pregnant by Homelander. It's possible it happened by rape. It's also possible that Mallory is saying this to fit as motivation. Becca makes a deal with Mallory to keep the child as long as she is relocated and protected from both her husband and Homelander. After confronting both Mallory and the Doctor, Homelander realizes that it's likely both Mallory and the doctor lied AGAIN when they said Becca and the baby died. It's just too convenient plus they obviously aren't trustworthy. He returns to the doctor to get the real skinny on what happened with Becca and uses it to test Mallory. Mallory obviously fails, and Homelander then get the double bonus of meeting his son and deeply wounding Butcher.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:34 PM on August 15, 2019

You mean Stillwell, Elisabeth Shue's character. Mallory is the former head of the spy group who recruited Butcher and whose family was murdered.
posted by phearlez at 2:28 PM on August 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ah crap, you're right. Sorry about that.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:53 PM on August 15, 2019

I was surprised that Chekov’s LampLighter didn’t make an appearance in the final two episodes.

Season 2.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:25 PM on August 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I liked the show considerably more than I liked the comic, which I gave up on about two-thirds of the way through or so, after yet another superhero team were massacred on account of their all clutching the idiot ball tightly to their chests. (If you're familiar with the comic and can't pinpoint that moment, well, that's the point.) I'd started The Boys because I'd liked a lot of Garth Ennis' earlier work--Preacher, Hitman, The Punisher, and his run on Hellblazer--and, even though I was starting to pick up on how he tended to repeat a lot of his pet tropes, obsessions, and shticks, was hoping for more of the same. But The Boys hit some sort of threshold for me, in that not only did I get sick of that title well before the end, but it caused me to re-evaluate much of Ennis' other work, and a lot of it just sort of falls apart if you look at it too closely.

I get the feeling that the showrunners of this show looked at The Boys pretty closely, and then took the pieces of it after it fell apart and reassembled them into something far superior to the source material. There's still a fair amount of the brutality and unsentimental attitude of the source material--there's no getting away from that--but the characters are generally smarter, or at least cannier, than their comics counterparts. Dialing Ennis' intense hatred of superheroes down quite a bit makes the situations and characters more relevant to superhero movies and culture; we haven't seen the Avengers bicker over what percentage each member is getting of the merchandise, but it's not that far off some of the arguments that they've had. Even Homelander seems to have more depth than just an obvious Superman-by-way-of-Captain-America figure. The casting is pretty excellent--I really like Jack Quaid as Hughie, and am sort of glad that they didn't go with Simon Pegg, not only because he's a bit too old but also because he's pretty excellent as Hughie's dad--and the characterization is nicely modulated to match; I like Frenchie much better than his comics counterpart, and Butcher is likewise much more sympathetic and at the same time obviously more unhinged and vengeful, which just about everyone picks up on.

I have no idea where they'll go plotwise--whether or not A-Train will live, what they'll do without Stillwell (although having Giancarlo Esposito step up as the main corporate villain would be great), what they'll do with Becca, what will happen with Starlight, what Black Noir's deal is (I'm hoping that it's not what happens in the comics, and with some of the changes that the series makes, it's likely that it could be something completely different), what will happen with the Deep, etc.--but I'll be tuning in when it comes back.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:19 AM on August 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

P.S. Apparently, the first episode of S2 is already in the can.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:49 AM on August 19, 2019

I have no idea where they'll go plotwise
(I'm hoping that it's not what happens in the comics, and with some of the changes that the series makes, it's likely that it could be something completely different)

I wish some of the hype beforehand had been "We're taking a lot of liberties with the plot and in fact with the entire world from the ground up", so I could just sit back and enjoy it rather than constantly thinking, Oh, this is where that's going to happen... wait... no, it's not....
posted by Etrigan at 7:54 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Chekov’s LampLighter

The other unfired gun on the wall was the casual mention of the very things that can hurt the key supes. Gamma radiation, presumably for Homelander (?), iron daggers (Black Noir?), and I think something else might have been stated. Which implies the supes do have various vulnerabilities / Achilles Heels, it's just a matter of figuring them out and exploiting them.

I guess that's going to be an S2 reveal as well...?
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:52 PM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Now having watched the show, the show is like "what if The Boys, but with actual human characters you understand, rather than people as jokes and premises designed to lead Hughie through commentary on the War Machine".

Ennis was very sci fi in his focus on making a political satire using superheroes as punchlines over writing a story with characters. Hughie is the only well grounded character in the comic, I think.

The show is taking these characters seriously, which is cool, and although there s less airtime given to comment on corporate america / neoliberalism, I trust they are building up to it

My favorite part of the show was the negotiations with the mayor of Baltimore. I enjoyed the skewering of racist tokenization, that was very Ennis, but I wanted more sick, dark jokes about the mayor using the uprisings and militarization of the Baltimore PD and seizure of property under the premise of the war on drugs. Maybe some jokes about how Vought s competition is GeoGroup and G4S and other private military police. I want Standing Rock jokes, people.

But I respect and enjoy that the point of the scene is to develop the Stillwell character as a relatable yet bloodless, authoritarian corporate murderer who doesn t understand the violence she is wielding until it s too late.

Even the baby Isn t a total fridging, I think, because, well, it s a baby, it s off camera, and three, it s one part of Stillwell s development as Ambitious Dictator Mom
posted by eustatic at 10:18 AM on August 25, 2019

Narrative mathematics suggests that the baby is Homelander's son (assuming that Stillwell managed to procure some of his semen from somewhere without his knowing) and is, therefore, indestructible.
posted by Grangousier at 2:24 PM on August 25, 2019

It's possible it happened by rape.

This didn't seem ambiguous at all.
posted by schadenfrau at 3:00 PM on August 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

It didn't, but the information is from a totally unreliable character so it's more than possibly untrue.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:42 PM on August 25, 2019

What character are you thinking of? There was video, and the other information was apparently self-reporting
posted by schadenfrau at 9:09 AM on August 26, 2019

We never hear Becca say anything about it, we just get Butcher's take (who I assume miss-lapin is speaking of). Which is wrong in at least a few details, whether it be by his own assuming probability or because Mallory led him to believe it. The video could easily support assault but it could also be a consensual encounter that ended with Homelander just being an ass and booting her before she could get herself put together.

I'm not sure the show even knows. We get a bit in the first few episodes where Homelander is being a controlling & threatening creep towards Maeve in a if I can't have you nobody can manner, which is physically threatening in a way that supports rapist. But we also get a pretty strong submissive tone with him and Stillwell. Not that he couldn't be both, but it feels like they want to leave themselves open for a ah-ha sort of revelation where that's not the way Homelander actually interacts with women sexually. Which would work with Maeve being lesbian and her relationship with Homelander having been non-sexual.
posted by phearlez at 5:37 PM on August 26, 2019

I tuned in for the spectacle of it, but I was impressed that there was a few strong emotional beats. When Frenchie was bonding with Kimiko, or A train was confronting Hughie before his heart attack, or the Deep was shaving himself down... I appreciate that they were giving the actors a chance to stretch themselves.
posted by LegallyBread at 7:54 AM on September 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

It also says something about the mindset behind this series that even after we find out Kimiko's name, she is "the Female" in the credits.

I think her codename from the comics is 'The Female of the Species' (as in ' deadlier than the male'), just like 'The Frenchman' and 'Mother's Milk'. They certainly haven't made that conenction in show, though.

I don't know why I didn't notice the weird parallels between Stillwell's nursing activities and the name Mother's Milk before.
posted by Sparx at 1:14 PM on November 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

S2 trailer
posted by Etrigan at 9:54 AM on July 8, 2020

I like to believe that the Butcher really is just a Kiwi. His accent just sounds like that.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:31 AM on September 12, 2020

I just watched Season 1 with no idea what to expect and no history with the books. I liked it! It seemed like a really cynical and ugly version of Watchmen. Nowhere near as subtle or smart but interesting enough.

What sold me on the show, though, was Antony Starr's performance as Homelander. 100% amoral, uncaring, and then weird ticks like his fetish for Madelyn. Jack Quaid did a great job with Hughie too, an impossible character IMHO. Just when you think he's gonna be the dumb all-shucks boy one time too many he pulls out a little steel. Quaid handled that unevenness effectively.

Agreed with the comments above this show teetered over the edge of misogyny an awful lot, not to mention gratuitous violence. Erin Moriarty as Starlight tipped that over the edge for me, her story and performance were terrific. A slightly different show would have had her be the center of the whole thing, I think I would have liked that show even more. I found Butcher and his revenge quest really tedious.
posted by Nelson at 7:35 AM on December 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

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