The Boys (Season 2): No Subtlety, All Awesome – Amazon Prime Review

The Boys are back and America is in trouble. Those things aren’t related.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free for Season 2)

After the events of Season 1, the Boys are now fugitives. Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) survived his encounter with Homelander (Antony Starr), who impregnated Billy’s wife Becca (Shantel VanSanten), resulting in their son Ryan (Cameron Crovetti). Hughie (Jack Quaid), Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capon), and the Female (Karen Fukuhara) are all underground. Hughie’s paramour Starlight (Erin Moriarity) is still a member of the Seven, along with Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), Homelander, Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell), and newcomer Stormfront (Aya Cash). They’re now being directly overseen by Mr. Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito), the head of Vought International. The Boys have to deal with both the superheroes and the newly-minted supervillains, while also finding a way to get themselves out of trouble with the law.

Also, Homelander is not a good dad.


I really don’t want to spoil things in this article, but it’s almost impossible to talk about one of the best parts of the season without spoiling it, so I’m going to briefly say the following:

This show took a big swing this season and it paid off. If you didn’t like the first season of the series, you might still like this one. It ratcheted the social commentary up to eleven and it was merciless. Rather than just satirizing superheroes and the superhero film industry, this season satirized America and American politics. The performances remain excellent, the show’s violence remains over-the-top enough to be almost comically entertaining while also being devastating when the narration calls for it. The dialogue isn’t the best, but it’s a bit better than the first season.

They also focused the cast of characters a bit better.

Without spoilers, I really recommend this season even if you weren’t thrilled with the last one.


This season’s about America’s relationship with white supremacy. It’s not subtle. Stormfront, a character named after the former largest white supremacy publication in the US, is revealed to be a racist who murders minorities for fun and claims they died of other causes. However, when she first appears, she just seems confident, outspoken, and in favor of “law and order.” Naturally, she uses the internet to make herself more popular and to fully muddy the truth of any of her actions. Later, when Homelander murders someone on film, she’s able to shift public opinion back towards him by use of these troll farms and masterful public relations. She and Homelander become romantically involved, with her being one of the only people capable of standing up to him and capable of making him submit to her wishes. But the real revelation is that she’s not a new hero. In fact, in the 1970s, she was operating in the South as a hero named Liberty who was removed from circulation because she kept murdering minorities. She’s just been rebranded as “Stormfront” and given a heavy internet cult following. Moreover, the Liberty persona was not her original self either. She’s actually a Nazi and the first person given superpowers by Compound V. 

Why would a Nazi like a tall, blonde, ubermensch… ooooooohhhhhhh.

By intertwining her history and existence with Homelander’s, the show gives us a strange commentary on the relationship between the USA and racism. Homelander’s formation was based on DNA from Stormfront. In other words, his existence always contained traces of racism. Then, she rebranded herself based on the American image and used it to secretly try and destroy African-Americans, but eventually she risked getting exposed and had to go underground. Now, thanks to the internet, she can rebrand herself again. By marketing herself just right, she can be out in public and tie herself directly into the supposed movement to support America. In other words, she’s made it so that people supporting patriotism are supporting racism and those that condemn racism are accused of being unpatriotic. This is, of course, only a fictional world and none of this is happening right now in reality. No one kneeling to protest racism, for example, would ever be accused of being unpatriotic, particularly since the right to protest was one of the most fundamental ensconced in the Constitution. 

Naturally, she loves having her boobs lasered.

Overall, though, this show does a great job of giving some commentary about the nature of racism in America. I look forward to seeing Season 3.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Star Trek: Lower Decks: Futurama Meets Star Trek… again – CBS All Access Mini-Review

We get a look at all of the fun and adventure that happens to the flunkies of the Federation.


Welcome aboard the starship U.S.S. Cerritos. Captained by the capable Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) and staffed by First Officer Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell), Lieutenant Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore), and Doctor T’Ana (Gillian Vigman), they boldly go to all the places that other, better ships have just discovered. However, we don’t really care about them, because the party is down a few floors in the lower decks. It’s got Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome), a drunken ensign so disrespectful that she’s been kicked off multiple ships; Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid), an ambitious ensign that often takes Mariner’s abuse; D’Vana Tendi (Noël Wells), a medical ensign who is super enthused about being on a starship; and Sam Rutherford (Eugene Cordero), an engineering ensign who is adjusting to his recent cyborg status. Together, these four… exist. 

Someone is going to complain about the uniforms, I just know it.


I think at this point I’ve mentioned that I am a fan of Star Trek roughly fifty times on here, including putting multiple episodes on my 100 Greatest Episodes List, so I’ll skip most of my fanboying and just say that I was probably going to like anything that adds to the franchise that’s better than Enterprise (minus the Mirror Universe stuff). This was definitely better than Enterprise (Sorry, Bakula). 

Even coated in mucus, this show has more dignity.

When The Orville came out, I figured that was the closest that I would ever get to a mostly-official comedy Star Trek series, unless they actually made a show out of Galaxy Quest. However, while both of those mostly parodied the original Star Trek, this show couldn’t really try to do that, since the events of Star Trek actually happened here. By setting itself in the universe it was going to mess with, this show ironically had to be a bit more of its own animal. It reminds me a bit more of Futurama than those parodies, but the animation style is more modern and frenetic. On a side note, I think it’s interesting that the first season is set in the year 2380, meaning that, aside from Star Trek: Picard, this show is set the furthest in the future of any Star Trek series. At the end of the first episode, we even hear Mariner start to name drop many of the main characters of the original show and The Next Generation. I don’t think they referenced Deep Space Nine or Voyager, but it’s possible that, since Voyager only got back two years before this show, maybe the full extent of their adventures haven’t become public. 

Still, this isn’t the command staff that you’re used to.

The humor in this show is a little more graphic and a little more base than you might expect from Star Trek, but I still enjoyed it. It makes for a bigger contrast between the typically clinical and sterile settings that we usually expect aboard a starship and the messy, gooey, and sometimes a bit freaky things that Mariner and Boimler get into. Another aspect of the humor appears to derive from how much the crew has become immunized to the chaos that fills an average episode of a Star Trek show. They’re shown to carry on leisurely conversations while dealing with a viral outbreak akin to a zombie horde, which makes some sense, given how often crazy things like this happen. The show also takes shots at the other series’ common trope of attributing all of the successes to the command staff at the expense of the many other people that help keep the ship running and provide support. 

Fan theories will abound.

Overall, while we’re only two episodes into the show, I think it’s got potential. If you’re a Trekkie, you’ve gotta watch it. If you’re a fan of Futurama, you should probably check it out. If you’re neither… well, try it anyway.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Amazon Prime Review – The Boys (Season 1): Adapting to the Audience (Spoiler-Free)

Amazon Prime makes a television show based off of the famously exploitative comic book by Garth Ennis and manages to make it stronger by toning it down. 


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Ironically, crime was all to their left.

In this world, Superheroes are real and they pretty much all have sold the hell out. The most powerful heroes are The Seven: The Superman-esque Homelander (Antony Starr), Amazon Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), Speedster A-Train (Jessie Usher), Sea King The Deep (Chace Crawford), Mysterious Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell), Invisible and Invulnerable Translucent (Alex Hassell), and new girl Starlight (Erin Moriarity).  The team works for Vought-American, a company that makes films depicting the fictional exploits of their real heroes and is attempting to militarize superheroes, under Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue). However, with great power comes the great likelihood that you’re going to abuse it, which most of the superheroes do liberally, often at the cost of the lives of the citizens. When a supe goes too far, that’s when The Boys come in.

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Karl Urban makes that shirt look bad-ass. That’s an accomplishment.

The Boys are a team of vigilantes loosely associated with the CIA who take down the superheroes who go too far. The Boys had been disbanded for a while before the series starts, until Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) loses his girlfriend Robin (Jess Salguerio) to a Superhero and is dragged into the world of anti-heroics by Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), the former leader of the Boys. Together with The Frenchman (Tomer Kapon), Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), and the Female (Karen Fukuhara), the Boys work to take down superheroes, using just their wits, guts, and occasionally powerful explosives.

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The Female of the Species is deadlier. Yes, that’s a poem. 


The Boys was Garth Ennis’s attempt to, and this is a quote, “Out-Preacher Preacher.” This is a reference to the series Preacher’s famously over-the-top violence and sexuality which The Boys took to literally insane levels. There are things in The Boys that are clearly designed to disturb even those who were already pretty disturbed and no, I’m not going to mention the worst of them here. Let’s just say that in the TV show they put a rape warning that is well-deserved on the first episode, but the scene is still SIGNIFICANTLY less horrifying than the same events from the comic book. 

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There are a lot fewer “headsplosions” in the TV show.

Actually, that’s something that happens in general throughout this adaptation. This show has some horrifyingly graphic deaths and other traumatic images, but all of it has been extremely sanitized in order to operate within the medium. See, in an exaggerated comic book where some things can just be referenced with a reaction panel, it can be somewhat ignored that your main characters curb-stomp someone to death or, as above, a bunch of heads explode. It’s so far removed from reality, that it’s like a Tom and Jerry cartoon: Yes, it’s hyper-violent, but it’s also not real and therefore more amusing or easily processed. Hell, some shows like SuperJail or Metalocalypse basically made that the source of their humor. But once you move that to live action, your audience (hopefully) cannot enjoy hyperviolence in the same way because they’re naturally going to feel the pain of the victims more. Similarly, the fact that SO MUCH of the comic also relies on similar hyperbolic exaggeration of rape, drug use, racism, and sexism means that if they shifted those elements to the live-action show, people would probably be vomiting with rage at every episode. And probably just vomiting at the thought of the realities of some of the things that the comic depicts, come to think of it. I’d also say that it helps that the show feels like the sex and violence actually tends to serve the plot and the themes, rather than just being there for gags, but there’s still a bunch of gratuitous elements. 

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They skipped the room literally painted with the blood of the innocent.

However, that’s not to say that this show is tame. Even though it’s restrained when compared to the source material, the show pushes a ton of boundaries, but, by reducing the ridiculous violence and over-the-top conduct of the characters somewhat, the villainous superheroes actually become more relatable and therefore more detestable. A genocidal maniac with a god complex isn’t someone you’re likely to run into, but you probably have met a guy who would use his position at a company to try and coerce a woman into sex. Rather than just being amoral psychopaths, many of the heroes are more common figures: The athlete who uses performance enhancing drugs because he’s worried of slowing, the hypocritical evangelical preacher, the alcoholic who used to be a dreamer, etc. There’s a reason people hate Dolores Umbridge more than Voldemort – You probably don’t know Hitler, but you probably know a teacher who picks on kids to make herself feel bigger.

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People literally hate her more than Wizard Hitler and it’s completely understandable.

The key thing that the show does have in common with the source material is the themes: Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Or, as Butcher puts it, “with great power comes the total f*ckin’ certainty that you’re gonna turn into a c**t.” The show explores how power affects people and it picks a number of sources of power, ranging from Money (Vought-American), Emotional Manipulation (Stillwell), Political Power (various politicians and Vought-American), and finally good-old-fashioned violence (The Seven). Vought’s political and financial influence tends to make them just as immune to consequences as Homelander’s invulnerability and their immorality grows as they find that they can do more and more without it coming back to bite them. The purpose of The Boys is to try and remind these entities that they can actually be punished for their bad conduct, because that’s the only way to keep them in check. They attack Vought with bad publicity and they attack the Seven by finding ways to actually hurt or kill them, something that’s much more impressive because in this version the Boys don’t have superpowers. 

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They do have trigger fingers, though.

The performances in the show are, for the most part, excellent, though Karl Urban’s Billy Butcher does tend to overshadow others when in a scene with them just due to the nature of the actor and the character. Elisabeth Shue, likewise, manages to be simultaneously more human than her comic counterpart James Stillwell and also much more cruel and manipulative, making for a great character that you can believe puts a Man of Steel in his place. A lot of the plot additions are great and serve to flesh out the world that they can afford to build. The female characters have been fleshed out quite a bit compared to Ennis’s versions of them. While his versions were supposed to be pastiches and grotesque parodies of female superheroes, that tended to make many of them weak characterizations in some ways. 

Overall, the show’s not going to be for everyone, but if you can get past the visceral elements, it does have some great performances and themes. Still, I wouldn’t blame anyone for not making it past them. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (, follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.