- Jaz Sinclair, Chance Perdomo, Lizzie Broadway, Maddie Phillips
- Evan Goldberg, Eric Kripke, Craig Rosenberg
- Action, Adventure, Comedy
- Release date
- September 29, 2023
- Where to watch
- Amazon Prime
The Boys comics were first published in October 2006. Far too edgy for the then DC Comic subsidiary, Wildstorm Comics, it was summarily canceled after only six issues. However, it quickly found new life at Dynamite Entertainment, where it finished its run in 2012. Gen V is loosely based on the comic story arc titled “We Gotta Go Now.”
Gen V (S1: E1 – 3)
Set in the same universe as the Amazon series The Boys, Gen V follows a handful of students at Godlkin University, a Vought International-sponsored school for Supers, as they navigate the usual pressures of university life as well as the horrifying and dark truth hidden beneath the university’s hallowed walls and in the shadows of the administration’s black heart.
Derivative by nature, only a relatively few spin-off series have been able to find success to rival their progenitors. Most that have can almost exclusively credit their success to the charisma of their leads and the quality of their writers. For while spin-offs might launch with larger audiences than original programs, fans often quickly grow tired of recycled plotlines and weaker character dynamics than that of their beloved original.
Gen V benefits greatly from existing in such a well-built world because its characters are fine but forgettable, its soap opera teenage drama is tedious, and its primary plot has already been done better by Billy Butcher and crew. Whereas the plot for each season of The Boys is tight and well thought out, Gen V exists on a campus built from convenience.
Godlkin University is purportedly THE number-one institution for turning out high-profile Supers and is very selective about its admissions. Yet, according to the show’s narrative, both the show’s star and her roommate have powers that necessarily preclude them from ever being top-tier or accepted by middle America… unless that is, the completely unpredictable set of events, the catalyst of which is utterly ridiculous, that just so happen to MacGuffin their way to fruition occurs.
A further frustration with superhero programs in general and Gen V specifically is what’s become the trope of superpowered people not being curious enough to explore the full extent of their powers. Maria Moreau, adequately played by Jaz Sinclair, has the ability to control blood telekineticly. In the sequence in which she first discovers her powers, she is shown to be able to make it virtually explode into razor-sharp shrapnel.
However, when grown, she chooses to slice open her hands with a knife and shoot blood from her body as projectile weapons. If she can manipulate blood into razor-sharp projectiles, why does she need a knife to cut open her hands? Why not save crucial time by slicing them open from the inside with her blood? How is it that she doesn’t get woozy from the exertion? Why not use the bad guy’s blood against himself? How is it possible, especially considering the way in which she discovered her powers, ***SPOILER that she doesn’t discover that she can put blood back inside of someone until she’s 18? END SPOILER***
Then there’s the problem with the show’s plot. It’s a bit SPOILERISH, so continue reading at your own risk. For an unknown reason, the school’s basement (not a sub-basement, just a regular old basement-level basement) houses a secret facility, a prison for young Supers who are being punished or have exhibited adverse side effects from Compound V.
The only reason that such an easily detectable facility can possibly be justified as existing under the feet of hundreds or thousands of super-powered young adults, many of whom (at least as freshmen) are at the university to become crime-solving heroes, is so that it can be discovered for plot purposes. Episode 3 even makes a special point to let the audience know that all Supers have far more acute hearing than regular people. There are literally people screaming in agony a few feet below them on a daily basis. It’s stupid and lazy writing.
That said, Gen V gets a lot of things right. It’s well-paced and decently acted, and just like in The Boys, Gen V nails Vought. Clearly a meta-commentary on the glut of DEI and identity politics in film and TV, Gen V satirizes companies like Disney by making Vought’s every motivation that of a soulless mega-corporate entity churning out what they believe to be culturally palatable-high profile low-value products.
With stakes that are hard to care about, characters that aren’t as interesting as that of the parent series, and a contrived and underwhelming plot, it’s hard to say if its well-placed Easter eggs and the novelties of gross-out gore and supes behaving badly will be enough to carry this series to future seasons.
These three episodes were really challenging in this regard. On the one hand, the casting is as artificially diverse as one can be. Buuuuuuuttttttt, the show makes a point of letting the audience know that the evil Vought corporation consciously uses identity politics to pander to useful idiots. That said…
- A ridiculous number of people are arbitrarily and irrelevantly bi-sexual.
- Woke sexual behavior is unsanitarily dripping off every episode’s proverbial walls.
- Of course, a douchebag guy is white with a small penis.
- There’s an over-the-top (even for a spin-off of a markedly over-the-top show) amount of penis abuse. One jerk character (you guessed it, a white guy) is mind-controlled into repeatedly smashing his junk with a baseball bat, while another douche (yup, a white guy) – loves having his handled roughly.
- There is a main secondary character whose primary superpower is being literally non-binary. I kid you not; they (I hope you appreciate how much I hate typing that) is at they’s most invulnerable mid-transformation from male to female and visa versa.
- While, at first, I believed this to be another instance of meta-commentary, in Episode 3, there is a long and painfully stupid sequence in which they preach to a surrogate audience via Asian stereotypes.
On a positive note, as I write this, I’m glad to learn that, for the time being, Grammarly finds the incorrect usage of pronouns as confounding as I do.
Gen V (S1: E4)
In episode 4 of Gen V, the gang, aware of at least some of the evil goings-on at God U, continues investigating what went wrong with Golden Boy. Will they be able to hide the truth of their knowledge from the superpowered investigator who’s been sent to “help?”
Now that the somewhat twisty setup and character introductions are out of the way, Episode 4 finds a little footing and provides a sense of direction. It is also significantly benefitted by the addition of the series’ first villain worthy of attention… right up until he’s neutralized.
So far, the show’s most problematic and overarching issue is its main characters. Whereas the cast of The Boys is full of well-defined characters, each with distinct personalities and motivations, Gen V’s crew is diverse-looking but is otherwise mostly homogenous and shallow. Differentiating character traits range from liking to get stoned to being unenthusiastic about one’s powers.
Unfortunately, this episode makes a massive misstep that emotionally neuters what had been a rather enjoyably tense narrative thread with loads of promise and potential. Early on, we are introduced to Tek Knight. Mentioned multiple times in The Boys series, Tek is a superpowered Sherlock Holmes and host of a reality detective show. Played to pompous perfection by Robert Vernon, Tek is as relentless in his pursuit of the truth as he is in his desire to use that truth to manipulate and ruin people for the sake of ratings.
What’s unfortunate is that Vernon breathes such deliciously insufferable life into Tek, only to have him rendered completely (metaphorically) powerless in the name of a joke that isn’t even funny. His abilities, in combination with a magnetic performance, made for the show’s first meaningfully grounded conflict and could have made for a wonderfully tense and compelling remainder of the season.
Were we to rank shows from 1 to 10 (1 being a melodramatic soap opera and 10 being the most engaging of dramas), we’d give Gen V a 4 so far. That’s not to say that it’s not entertaining, but neither is it something you must see.
- One or more of the writers had to have had a very “friendly” uncle as a child because the amount of hate for male genitalia is obsessive and overt.
- This episode opens with a would-be rapist (you guessed it, a white guy) having his ***SPOILER*** schwanson exploded ***END SPOILER***.
- ***SPOILER*** The main villain is frighteningly competent. So, it only stands to reason that the very diverse and normal human dean is able to best him by easily and out of nowhere, discovering that he’s a pervert who likes to screw inanimate holes. ***END SPOILER***
- While I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt early on, it’s clear that diversity for the sake of diversity is not a meta-commentary but a purview.
- Every white guy is evil, crazy, or dead.
- Every good guy who is a POC is also bisexual.
- There’s some forced LGBTness.
James Carrick is a passionate film enthusiast with a degree in theater and philosophy. James approaches dramatic criticism from a philosophic foundation grounded in aesthetics and ethics, offering insight and analysis that reveals layers of cinematic narrative with a touch of irreverence and a dash of snark.