Sunday, July 28, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Boys' - Hughie Suffers a Tragic Loss and Becomes Disillusioned About Superheroes in 'The Name of the Game'

Amazon's The Boys - Episode 1.01 "The Name of the Game"

When a Supe kills the love of his life, A/V salesman Hughie Campbell teams up with Billy Butcher, a vigilante hellbent on punishing corrupt Supes - and Hughie's life will never be the same again.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Amazon's The Boys.

"The Name of the Game" was written by Eric Kripke and directed by Dan Trachtenberg

This show outlines the potential corporatization of superhero abilities. Superhero stories are a very popular genre in entertainment. And yet, this depiction of the extraordinary proves just how commercial and corrupt it all has the potential of becoming. It could further exploit the insecurities and entitlements often felt by those in power. It just also gives them more influence and stature. Plus, it fuels everyone's motivations to keep the fiction afloat because it fits into the narrative of someone swooping in to save the day. Sure, Annie has the genuine ambition of wanting to save the world. She is an earnest and sweet girl from the Midwest. She has only ever wanted to be a member of The Seven. And yet, she becomes aware of just how immoral her new colleagues can actually be. The Deep sexually assaults her and makes her feel as if her place on the team depends on satisfying him in such a way. Queen Maeve tells her that she always has to present as strong because no one can tolerate a vulnerable superhero. And Translucent is an extreme pervert who has to be naked in order to be all that effective with his abilities. That's not even calling out the sociopathic tendencies of their leader, Homelander. He presents as someone who has strong moral convictions. He's the pillar of what everyone should aspire to be. In reality though, he's more than willing to crash a plane with innocent children onboard simply because of what one person knows. This is a corrupt organization. But they are powerful because superhero stories are so comforting and reliable. Hughie may no longer feel that way. His girlfriend was killed by A-Train. Sure, that's the element in the early going that shows this series doesn't completely subvert the expectations and conventions of the superhero genre. There are so many origin stories designed around the tragic death of a girlfriend or wife. It's a horrible stereotype that is way too common in storytelling. It's not unique to the superhero genre either. It permeates across so much. As such, it's annoying whenever it is implemented into something new. Hughie's girlfriend is tragically killed just so he can be approached by Butcher with the opportunity to do something about it. Of course, that plan doesn't totally work out in the end. It almost leads to Hughie's death too. Instead, he becomes culpable in the murder of a superhero. That will bond Hughie and Butcher together in a significant way. Butcher was just willing to use Hughie as a pawn to advance his vendetta against the Seven. Hughie was vulnerable and had a way into the superhero headquarters. But now, Translucent has been killed. That moment was absolutely brutal because it shows just how normalized all of this violence can be. This guy presents as a hero but is willing to kill in order to protect his own interests. Hughie feared that he wasn't up for the job of planting a bug. He got it done but it didn't last. All he got was the satisfaction of making A-Team think that everything was continuing to go well for him. But now, Hughie and Butcher have a body they need to deal with. That too is a very common storytelling device amongst prestige dramas. It should be fascinating to see how this duo deals with the complication. It too may show just how immoral this world has the potential of becoming. It should just be interested to see if the show can outline some greater meaning than calling out all of the hypocrisy apparent in the world.