I had high expectations for the new spinoff series from the universe of “The Boys” simply because I love the original series so much that it’s a treat to be able to have some more of it. At the same time, I was hesitant. I’m not exactly college-age – would I be able to relate to these characters who are in the throes of adolescence?
The official synopsis sets the new show at…
Godolkin University, the prestigious superhero-only college where students train to be the next generation of heroes—preferably with lucrative endorsements. You know what happens when supes go bad, but not all superheroes start out corrupt. Beyond the typical college chaos of finding oneself and partying, these kids are facing explosive situations … literally. As the students vie for popularity and good grades, it’s clear that the stakes are much higher when super powers are involved. When the group of young supes discover that something bigger and sinister is going on at school, they’re put to the test: Will they be the heroes or the villains of their stories?
That’s a familiar question for this universe, but the fact that it focuses on these kids was a bigger question for me. Turns out, I didn’t have to worry. Within five minutes of watching Episode 1, I was already on the edge of my seat and forgetting to take notes. It’s the same feeling I had watching Season 1 of “The Boys” – the sensation of being on a roller coaster that’s going a little too fast and nearly skidding off the track as I hold on for dear life. Sometimes I definitely gasped in surprise, sometimes I laughed out loud, and of course, there were some “ewww” exclamations, because this wouldn’t be the same universe if there weren’t.
But, surprisingly, there were also moments where I empathized with what the main characters were going through – especially Jaz Sinclair’s Marie Moreau. The first episode mainly follows her story, and by the time the episode was drawing to a close, I found myself caring about her already.
I should have expected it after being surprised to find myself caring about some characters on “The Boys” that I probably shouldn’t have, but I thought it might be different with teenagers. I guess good writing is good writing and good acting is good acting!
What “Gen V” does that its parent show also does so well is give us just enough backstory to make the characters sympathetic, with tragedy depicted in a visceral (sometimes literal) way that lets you really feel just how tragic that moment is. The show doesn’t shy away from blood and guts, just like “The Boys,” but the violence is often used to underline the shock and horror that we all feel when faced with tragedy, even the sterile non-bloody kind.
The other characters who are introduced in the first episode are also memorable, especially the ambivalent-about-being-ambitious Andre, enigmatic Jordan who is sometimes female and sometimes male, the golden boy of the school who is actually called Golden Boy because that’s hilarious, and Marie’s roommate Emma. Emma is already a favorite of mine, with a superpower that isn’t taken seriously or valued highly and an arsenal of defenses covering up a world of hurt. I’ve got a soft spot for her for sure – don’t kill her, show!
“Gen V,” like the other shows in this universe, manages to be unrealistic and over the top while at the same time making some pointed commentary on the real world. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s intentionally hit-you-over-the-head with the parallel, but it’s almost always biting – and I love it.
Special shout out to Episode One’s ability to parody every University’s overly sincere posturing, from motivational posters on the walls (“The Deep was once a kid just like you. He says: Honor is doing the right thing when no one is looking”) to the Dean of Students insisting that they’re a family and telling students they appreciate “the unique culturally rich change agent that you are.” I got stuck between eye-rolling and laughing out loud recognizing the familiar rhetoric of every University I’ve taught at over the years.
“Gen V” retains the cheeky references that the original series included, with shoutouts to CW stalwarts like “Riverdale” and “Pretty Little Liars” and supe students claiming to be “super focused” or “super inclusive” or “super abled”. I might have squealed out loud to see Alex Calvert, Supernatural’s own Jack, as one of those students. The show can be a heady mix of serious social commentary one second and outrageous sex scenes the next, with some creative super powers constantly going on in the background. There’s also a mystery that’s introduced right from the start, something ominous and dark that is downright scary – like a little touch of “Supernatural” snuck in to spice things up even more. I like it!
One of the other things I relish about the universe of “The Boys” is the masterful and thoroughly enjoyable social media presence the show has cultivated. It’s been so much fun to watch the Vought account interact with The Boys account, and now “Gen V” has been added to the mix. Fans have played along and responded to social media posts with in-universe commentary, making the whole experience extra meta (and extra amusing). Oh, and is there anything more appropriate than the official Astroglide account getting in on the fun??
Today’s Twitter/X back and forth had Vought CEO Ashley and Kimiko disagreeing about whether you should trust Vought – or definitely not trust Vought.
I don’t trust Vought at all, but I do trust Eric Kripke, and once again he hasn’t let me down. I’m already looking forward to more of this wild ride – streaming tomorrow on Prime Video. Stream it yourself and ride along!
As A Train says, I hope you survive the experience…
The “Gen V” cast includes Jaz Sinclair, Chance Perdomo, Lizze Broadway, Shelley Conn, Maddie Phillips, London Thor, Derek Luh, Asa Germann, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Sean Patrick Thomas, and Marco Pigossi. Gen V also features guest stars Clancy Brown and Jason Ritter, as well as appearances from Jessie T. Usher, Colby Minifie, Claudia Doumit, and P.J. Byrne, reprising their roles from “The Boys.”
Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters serve as showrunners and executive producers. Eric Kripke, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver, Neal H. Moritz, Ori Marmur, Pavun Shetty, Ken Levin, Jason Netter, Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson, Craig Rosenberg, Nelson Cragg, Zak Schwartz, Erica Rosbe, and Michaela Starr also serve as executive producers on the spinoff series. Serving as co-executive producers are Brant Englestein, Sarah Carbiener, Lisa Kussner, Gabriel Garcia, Aisha Porter-Christie, Judalina Neira, and Loreli Alanís. The series is produced by Sony Pictures Television and Amazon Studios, in association with Kripke Enterprises, Point Grey Pictures, and Original Film.