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Clever satire and dark worldbuilding on ‘Gen V’ 

Screenshot from Gen V trailer | Amazon Prime Video

From the same universe as the Emmy-nominated Amazon Prime Video show “The Boys” comes “Gen V,” the franchise’s live-action spinoff. “Gen V” invites viewers into the intriguing but dark world of Godolkin University, the series’ central backdrop. While the promotional university website and accompanying orientation video provided glimpses into the show’s setting, it merely scratches the surface of this darkly imaginative world expansion.

“Gen V” has much to live up to, but it keeps the same wackiness and vulgarity as its predecessor. For example, actress Jaz Sinclair, who plays protagonist Marie Moreau, accidentally kills her family after discovering her powers. 

While “The Boys” also kickstarted its pilot with a graphic death, this formula remains effective in both horrifying and drawing in its audience. It serves as a stark reminder of the loss of innocence and highlights superhumans’ often grim and unglamorous reality.

Patrick Schwarzenegger, who plays an up-and-coming pyrokinetic labeled as Golden Boy, spoke about the series in a Variety podcast. He said the show is “kind of like ‘Euphoria’ meets superheroes,” and he isn’t wrong. Even though most of the characters are university students, the show doesn’t hesitate to shock its fans with gore and explicit sexual content. However, it approaches each topic sincerely, leaving behind the tackiness accompanying other young adult shows. 

The characters aren’t spared from the barely-fabricated discrimination and abuse from Godolkin and its parent megacorporation, Vought International. Jordan Li, played by Derek Luh and London Thor, is “too confusing” to Vought because they are bigender and Asian. Marie is thrust into the spotlight instead but is racially fetishized and seen for her identity as a Black woman, not her abilities. The show gives each character their own representation and individuality without any of the tokenism it mocks. 

One thing missing, however, is the presence of an individual villain. Although Vought International remains as the evil corporation in the series, there is no singular antagonist. 

In “The Boys,” Homelander represents the darkest part of Vought, sparking terror through his unmatched power and driving almost every character to make difficult decisions. On the other hand, “Gen V” focuses on optimistic, emerging superheroes with naive views on what is good or bad. It could use a villain to push these characters to make the morally gray, complex decisions that come with being superhuman.

However, this is a minor criticism of the overall mastery that makes up “Gen V.” The show adapts its satirical themes cleverly and sensitively for the young adult cast. However, it doesn’t hesitate to build upon the dark and cutthroat world of superhumans that continues to captivate its audience. Scroll through the comments of any video on the official Vought International YouTube channel, and onlookers can see a torrent of devoted fans keeping in character with the story.

“Gen V” isn’t for everyone. For some, its criticism of modern issues can be too on the nose. Others may have the same issues they had with “The Boys,” where they expected a traditional superhuman world and instead got a satirical piece chock-full of graphic violence and nudity. But even then, both “Gen V” and “The Boys” touch on topics many TV shows are afraid to include, from periods and puberty to suicide. 

For those who want to dive into the ugly truth – not just about superheroes, but about society – this show is for you.

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    Jahlil RushOct 16, 2023 at 11:28 am

    This is one of favorite articles this semester. Great Job Noelle