Hughie gets himself into a mess when he and The Boys trap Translucent.
The superhero genre has often been parodied and mocked for its tropes and reliance on archetypes. It has also been deconstructed and analyzed over and over again. However, none of these parodies, examinations, or alternate realities have been as effective as Amazon’s The Boys. The Boys is a TV show that premiered on Amazon Prime on July 26th, 2019. Produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and developed for TV by Eric Kripke, the series is based on the 2006 comic of the same name by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. The show stars an ensemble cast that includes Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Dominique McElligott, Jessie T. Usher, Chace Crawford, Laz Alonso, Tomer Capone, Karen Fukuhara, and Nathan Mitchell.
Mirrored close up of Hughie’s black high top chucks that he wears throughout the show.
The show is set in the modern world with the key difference from our reality being that in The Boys, superheroes exist. However, they’re not exactly what you may have dreamed they’d be. Superheroes have been privatized and work for a corporation known as Vought International. They run heroes locally, nationally, and internationally and their premiere group is known as The Seven. The Seven is a group that consists of the following heroes: A-Train (Usher), a speedster, The Deep (Crawford), an aquatic hero who can talk to fish, Queen Maeve (McElligott), a warrior, Black Noir (Mitchell), a silent vigilante, Translucent (Alex Hassell), an invisible man, and Starlight (Moriarty), a newcomer with light-based powers. They are led by The Homelander (Starr), the most powerful superhuman on the planet clad in the Stars and Stripes of the American flag. The general public regards this team as true heroes. However, Vought covers up their true, sinister nature. The Deep is a sexual predator, Queen Maeve is an alcoholic, and Black Noir brutalizes people. However, Homelander, the shining beacon of America, is the worst of all. While in public he portrays himself as a noble, kind, empathetic hero, he in fact, an egotistical, megalomaniacal, psychopath that does not care at all about “normal people”.
Hughie takes a beating a lot in this show but he always manages to get back up!
All these atrocities and more are hidden from the general public by Vought, and their cover-up works so well that even those within the hero community do not know the truth. When Starlight joins The Seven, she is appalled that they don’t actually care about saving people and that being a hero is all an act. However, a few people outside of Vought know the truth. There are a select few in the US government but they are powerless to stop these “heroes” their voters so desperately love. Instead, this burden falls on the shoulders of The Boys, a ragtag group of vigilantes actually trying to save people from their “heroes”. They are led by Billy Butcher (Urban), a former SAS operative who hates all “supes”, especially Homelander. Working for him are Mother’s Milk (Alonso), a former Marine medic with crippling OCD, and Frenchie (Capone), an international arms trafficker skilled in munitions, ordnance, infiltration, and chemistry that is fiercely loyal to his friends.
Hughie contemplates his next move.
They end up rescuing a mute superwoman known only as The Female (Fukuhara). They eventually learn her name is Kamiko, and she was injected with Vought’s Compound V to create artificial threats for their heroes to defeat. She has super strength and regenerative healing powers that make her the strongest member of The Boys. Finally, joining them is Hughie Campbell (Quaid), a civilian tech specialist who is recruited by Butcher after A-Train murders his girlfriend and Vought attempts to cover it up. While the rest of The Boys are hardened killers, thieves, and soldiers, Hughie has never even been in a fight. He is a Billy Joel-loving, chucks-wearing dude who was a huge superhero fan before A-Train disintegrated the love of his life right before his eyes. While he retains that same heart throughout the series, Hughie is the one most affected by the journey they take. His chucks are bloodied throughout the show, but they also always move forward in the hope of a better tomorrow.
At the end of the day, Hughie used to just be some dude who worked at an electronics store.
This show is easily the best parody and deconstruction of superheroes there has ever been. While the comic laid out these themes and ideas well, it suffers from early 2000s edginess and that really brings down the quality of the run. The show, on the other hand, has taken the best bits of the comic, adapted them, and dropped the cringe-worthy bits to create something more cohesive and impactful. The performances of the show help this a great deal. Anthony Starr is incredible as Homelander and while he is incredibly menacing and pure evil, he is so charismatic that you end up loving him in a weird way. Karl Urban is equally great as Butcher, showing a deep, emotional core while also being morally grey in his actions and methods. We know Butcher is one of the “good guys” but because of his intense hatred of “supes”, he often does things we would consider evil, and Urban balances that tightrope masterfully. However, the real centers of this show are actually Jack Quaid and Erin Moriarty. As Hughie and Annie, they anchor their teams in terms of being the only two fully good people left in this conflict, and seeing them struggle with trying to do the right thing in an evil world and do it together is great to watch. There are no weak performances in the rest of the ensemble either, as they all provide either moments of hilarity or extreme emotion. The conflict between The Boys and The Seven, with innocent people all standing in the way of it, makes for thrilling and compelling TV. Season 4 of this series can’t come soon enough.
This was THE moment everyone watching knew this show was something special.
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