‘Gen V’ Has Officially Better Than ‘The Boys’ In Season 4

boys

The Boys

AMAZON

There has been a lot of discussion about this week’s episode of The Boys, about how it went too far with Hughie’s sexual assault, which showrunner Eric Kripke subsequently deemed “hilarious.” But it’s part of a conversation about the general decline of The Boys, with this season in particular cited. And now, I think it’s clear that season 1 of its own spin-off, Gen V, is better than the show currently is.

I don’t think The Boys is bad per se, but I do think it’s getting worse. At the beginning of the season there was a lot of right-wing pushback about the show’s political messaging getting too blatant, and while that’s not exactly a news development, as the show has always been very liberal, even I, a longtime left-winger, thinks the show has lost something trying to 1:1 mirror real-world events from Qanon and Pizzagate to an almost direct quote about “legitimate rape” this past episode, uttered in real life by a former Republican candidate. It’s too much. Not that the politics are wrong, just that it doesn’t play well doing it this literally.

Then there’s…other stuff. Plots to kill Homelander that never, ever work out every season. Plotlines that trail off into nowhere for side characters like MM, Kimiko and Frenchie. Hughie being subjected to non-stop trauma. Starlight losing her powers in a way that’s unexplained six episodes in now. And Butcher existing pretty much on an island shouting at ghosts in his head. None of this really works. The one interesting plotline I’d argue is the ongoing redemption of A-Train, though I’m sure that means he’s probably going to die soon.

gen v2

Gen V

AMAZON

Gen V felt like a fresh start, and in hindsight, has a lot of what The Boys lacks right now, without losing much, if any, of its “edge.”

Gen V can shock you, both with the deaths of major characters and absurd sex and gore that’s threaded throughout the college landscape (in the opening scene, a young Marie butchers her family with blood spikes as she has her first period). But it goes beyond that.

The show creates a cast you’re actually rooting for, the group of students coming together to unravel the mysteries of their school which is less about molding and shaping them into heroes and more about Vought-created horrors unfolding under the surface. Literally, in some instances. These are great characters that are given good, clear storylines and arcs in a way we have not seen from The Boys in a while. Bits and pieces of those arcs may remain in later seasons of The Boys, but they’re not coming together well, whereas Gen V’s core team plays a lot better, even if sometimes it ends in betrayal.

It’s a really good storyline with really good performances and the balancing of the debauchery the universe is known for with some amount of heart. That’s something I would argue The Boys has lost completely at this point, determined to gross out audiences, make Homelander more evil, blast Republicans (however deservedly) and little else. I’m really looking forward to Gen V season 2, probably more so than whatever finale we’re about to get from the sub-par season 4 of The Boys here.

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