The Boys, Season 1 | tv review
Boys will be boys.
Season summary: 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. (IMDb)
I think expectations can affect how someone perceives something – if you’re aware something was received very positively by audiences en masse, you might go into it expecting something of a particular standard only to find that it can’t quite live up to the reputation it has. In case you hadn’t guessed, that’s exactly what happened with me when it comes to the first season of The Boys.
Just to be clear, I did enjoy the season and will happily continue into later season the next time Amazon offers me a free trial of Prime (so give it 3-6 months), but it didn’t quite wow me as much as it did others and I think I know the reason why. Despite their impact on current pop culture, comic-book superheroes don’t tend to make that much money or have quite the same size audience as TV shows and movies.
The thing is, I have read a lot of comics growing up and well into adulthood (I’m pretty sure over twelve thousand comics read for me in my life… so far) and so a group of heroes actually being effectively villains or having weird personal hang-ups and mental health issues isn’t exactly the freshest take in the world for me, although I can understand why it might be for others who don’t have that same experience.
Another issue I think The Boys had for me was that it didn't feel made for bingeing – I think episodes are released weekly when new seasons come along? – and the constant swearing and gore lost their impact with their frequency going straight from one episode to another. It doesn’t help that some of the cursing feels forced, like the show was having the characters swear just because they could rather than because it felt natural.
I think once you take away the impact of that ‘shock’ factor being spread across one episode a week for a couple of months and have it all concentrated into a couple of days instead, what you’re left with is a well-made show that remains enjoyable to watch, but not something that is truly gripping to watch and instead something that it doesn’t feel like you really have to pay attention to.
Apparently, further seasons do make things more complex which would be great if true when I get around to eventually watching them, and I do think this first season could ultimately prove to be a better introduction to this fictional world in retrospect if that does prove to be the case, because it doesn’t feel solid enough on its own for me to recommend it too enthusiastically.
I also think that ‘shock’ factor may have helped cover up a few moments of weaker acting in this season, although I’m inclined to excuse the actors who prove across the season that they can handle more emotional moments just as well as the less-nuanced scenes. Still, there are a handful of scenes in the second half of the season which fell completely flat for me because the line deliveries and emoting just didn’t match what was required for those moments to land properly.
The Boys' first season is enjoyable enough and will probably be enjoyed far more than me by many others who haven’t seen these kinds of characters and superhero stories many, many times before. It looks great and it always keeps things moving, but was just lacking that certain special something for me, although I’m still looking forward to where the show goes in the second season and beyond.