‘The Boys’ on Amazon Prime explores dark side of superheroes

The Boys is a superhero web television series based on the comic book of the same name by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. Developed by Eric Kripke for Amazon, it follows the titular team of vigilantes fighting against a group of superheroes who abuse their power.

The Boys also fight an evil and filthy rich corporation called Vought International who govern the supes. The series is perhaps one of the most entertaining shows in recent times. It is set in a world where a bunch of superheroes, The Seven, do the usual stuff they are always made to do; save good people from bad guys and prevent crime.

Vought does its best to commercialise the heroics of the supes. They assign them to operate at different cities and are leased for millions of dollars by the city’s government. It is something like IPL teams having different players. The highest bidder (city) gets the best player (superhero). Vought also sells merchandises, toys, clothes, etc. However, the supes are not what they appear to be; they are dark, sick, corrupt and abuse their powers.

The series starts with Hughie (Jack Quaid), a soft-spoken salesman who is scared to stand up for himself. When Hughie and his girlfriend, Robin, stand close to a pavement, Robin is smashed into pieces by A-Train, a superhero with the power to run fast. Devastated and furious by Robin’s death, Hughie plans to file a lawsuit against Vought and A-Train. But he is warned that it is futile to run the case on court. That’s when he meets Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), a mysterious, foul-mouthed, fierce man who hates supes. Together with Hughie, Billy join hands with Frenchie (Tomer Kapon), a mercenary and Marvin/Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) to create a team, the boys, to fight the supes.

The cast are just fantastic. Antony Starr as John/Homelander – the most powerful superhero (similar to superman) effortlessly performs his character that swells with ton load of ego and pride. He is charming when normal people are around. But when he is pushed, he instantly drops his alluring persona and goes stone cold and violent. Likewise, Karl Urban is pretty rough, tough and his accent is sure to leave you asking for more. Jack Quaid’s role grows with each episode. He turns from a scared salesman to tough guy capable of facing dangerous situations. And then there is Elisabeth Shue as Madelyn Stillwell, the charismatic and an enterprising vice president of Vought International. She is a woman who juggles her role as a mother and poised business woman.

The series seamlessly combines all the different emotions and happenings we experience everyday. It shows the hustle bustle of running a giant company, how greed fuels lust, how people going beyond their limits when driven by rage. There is also an episode which reminds of the #metoo movement. It shows how humans are broken after a sexual assault. The series is full of gore, blood (which will leave you queasy), nudity and huge number of strong foul language. It also explores drugs, politics, human trafficking and terrorism. In the end, it falls to one main theme; how power in the hands of wrong guys affects lives of the ordinary. What makes The Boys the best TV series yet is that it merges a complex yet a formulaic plot with simplicity. You just can’t miss it.

Mohammed Rayaan