Amazon Prime Video’s original series The Boys exceeded expectations by riffing on the widely popular superhero genre in film and television. After three seasons, the world of The Boys expands with a spin-off, Gen V. Taking place in a university specifically for superheroes, the Gen V premiere episodes reveal exactly how this new series keeps the tradition alive by providing the unexpected, once again. But also in very new and exciting ways, in a totally different genre.
Please note that this review of the Gen V premiere episodes will be totally spoiler-free.
Gen V Premiere Episodes Introduce A New Kind Of Hero
From all the Gen V trailers, the vibe was that this would be another mature and R-rated teen-drama TV series with despicable young people being horrible to one another. Good-looking college co-eds involved in relationship drama and just being generally catty to one another. But similar to how The Boys subverted the superhero genre, Gen V does the same with the college drama
The Gen V premiere episodes begin with the introduction of the main protagonist, Marie Moreau (Jazz Sinclair), whose discovery of her powers ends up in a gruesome tragedy that deeply impacts her emotional well-being, not to mention, influencing the trajectory of her future. After having a hard life, Marie finally makes it to the most prestigious superhero university in the country, Godolkin University, where all the famous Supes are made. With a desire to prove herself to the world, Marie enters as the underdog in a school where Supe Legacies are set to become the newest Superheroes.
Gen V Parallels To The Boys
Marie’s story mirrors that of Starlight’s (Erin Moriarty) from The Boys. She’s the entry point for the audience into this college culture of superheroes. Similar to how Annie was the entry point for audiences into the superhero corporate culture in The Boys. Through Marie, we also get to deal with the racist and bigoted world of superheroes. Something that The Boys dealt with a lot.
For example, the highest-ranked superhero in the college is Luke (Patrick Schwarzenegger), a blue-eyed, blonde-haired, white boy. So already the dynamics are set for the story to deal with racial inequality. Especially in a world that is, quite literally, a popularity contest, given that these students are ranked and pitted against one another.
Gen V Is Not The Typical College Drama Story
What’s really refreshing about the Gen V premiere episodes is how non-teen drama they are. While I was expecting a lot of conflict for Marie from the ‘cool kids’, or the ‘mean girls’, or any other kind of teen-drama trope, Gen V avoids it all. Marie is immediately met with a cute and bubbly roommate in Emma (Lizzie Broadway). She is also invited to hang out with the cool kids, without any ulterior motives or mean-spirited pranking. Throughout the Gen V premiere episodes, the story doesn’t go where you would expect.
Even the cool kids are seemingly layered, and complicated and have their own personalities, instead of being archetypes in the usual teen movie. The would-be popular jock archetype is Luke, but he is dealing with his own demons while being the number one ranked Supe in school, guaranteed a spot in the prestigious superhero team, The Seven. Then there’s his girlfriend, Cate (Maddie Phillips), who looks like the typical mean girl but is actually sweet, nurturing, and very supportive. And enter Luke’s best friend Andre (Chance Perdomo), who has a former Superhero father, who wants him to follow in his legacy.
The Boys Spin-Off Deconstructs Other Aspects Of A Different Genre
While The Boys deconstructed the superhero genre, the Gen V premiere episodes take apart a lot of social issues affecting the youth of America. Creator and writer Eric Kripke and his team use very current social issues, like Trans kids’ rights, putting them against the backdrop of science-fiction or superhero concepts. For example, one of the main members of this ensemble cast is Jordan Li (London Thor & Derek Luh), a character who is quite literally both a man and woman, played by two different actors. They each have various powers, but the character is the same, switching between the male and female versions of themselves.
The other characters refer to Jordan using they/them pronouns, while this aspect of their superpower is definitely an issue in their personal life. It’s an ingenious way to portray these very real-world concepts, while still keeping them grounded and realistic light that remains emotional at its core.
How Gen V Can Comment On Real Issues Without Heavy Handed-ness
It’s easy to get carried away with a show such as this, given the special effects, and incredible superhuman action; but the writers spend a lot of effort keeping the stories and emotional content grounded and relatable. The analogies and symbolism are subtle but still, they are right on the surface of everything.
There’s a very deliberate intention and care put into the character development of these young kids, making them a lot more enjoyable to watch. If Gen V was just the usual teen drama, then it would be less interesting. These kids are dealing with newer problems that aren’t the cliche’d bullying, misunderstanding, or misdirected attractions tropes. But instead, the conflicts are real and nuanced. Providing a different depiction to the usual college drama that we’re used to. And the difference isn’t just glowy eyes and super strength. It goes beyond that.
There’s A New Mystery Brewing In Gen V Premiere Episodes
Besides all these themes and interesting storylines, the Gen V premiere episodes really set the stage for this first season of The Boys spin-off. Amidst all this character drama, there’s a larger mystery brewing that is in the spirit of that corrupt superhero universe that Kripke built from The Boys. While the show takes care to weave in elements from the original series, Gen V stands out as its own thing set in the same world, but not entirely relying on them to tell its story.
The first three Gen V premiere episodes were released on Prime Video on September 29, 2023.
What did you think of the Gen V premiere? Let me know in the comments below, or reach out to me on X (Twitter) at @theshahshahid to discuss all things related to The Boys and Gen V.