Amazon Prime’s newest original series, The Boys, starring East Hampton’s Jennifer Esposito (Blue Bloods, The Affair) in a supporting role, hit screens on Thursday. The show, based on the ultra-violent and sexually graphic comic book by Preacher creator Garth Ennis, is definitely not for children or the faint of heart—watch the trailer above to see what we mean. But if you can get past the gore and brutality, not to mention heaps of profanity, including the dreaded “C word” (to be fair, the character who says it is from Britain, where it doesn’t have quite the same bite), The Boys is a smartly written, incredibly funny series that will leave you thinking long after the Episode 10 finale.
FINAL WARNING: Seriously, this is some dark stuff. While it’s not as rough as the source material, and toned down in just the right places, only certain viewers will be capable of stomaching it. Even the trailer, which doesn’t begin to plumb the true, depraved depths, is bloody.
The show takes place in a world where superheroes have become the ultimate celebrities, casting a long shadow, or bright light, on the entire fabric of society, from television shows, to product endorsements, to sports, politics and more. In this world, a superhero group called The Seven—pretty much a stand-in for the Justice League—are the most famous and super of the “supes,” but it turns out most of these so-called heroes are sociopaths with little regard for the humans they’re charged with saving. And they regularly get up to no good, both for their own satisfaction and love of power, and for their corporate overlord Vought-American, a company they’ve made billions for, wielding near-limitless power, especially with an army of supes ready to do their bidding.
Early in Episode 1, our protagonist, regular-joe Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid), loses his girlfriend Robin in a particularly traumatic supe-related accident—Flash-like speedster A-Train (Jessie Usher) runs through Robin at what seems like light speed, turning her into a cloud of blood and guts, and leaving just her hands intact, while Hughie still holds them. Seeing no regret from A-Train and getting no justice, Hughie is itching for revenge, which makes him perfectly suited to join a team of CIA-backed misfits, each with their own reason to take down the supes who seem free of consequences, no matter the collateral damage from their exploits.
Esposito plays CIA Deputy Director Susan Raynor, an ally to the group who also wants to see the superheroes stopped. Her past relationship, professional and personal, with The Boys’ de-facto leader Billy Butcher (Karl Urban of Dredd is perfectly cast in the role) helps get them an in with the government agency, but Vought-American, led by Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue) might be even more powerful than they ever imagined. Conspiracies abound, about as much as the blood and guts, and the end leaves a huge opening for more madness and mayhem in Season 2, which is almost certain given the show’s quality and the positive response so far.
Without spoiling anything, we’ll just say that The Boys is immensely entertaining, even if it is, at time, hard to watch for the less cynical or hardened among us. All 10 episodes are now streaming on Amazon Prime.