The second season of the Amazon series raises the bar and consolidates Homelander as one of the greatest characters of modern television
“The Boys,” one of Amazon‘s most ambitious productions, became one of the top releases from last year for many reasons. The first, because in these times of regression it is with great relief that we come across a product which takes great pride in serving as the flagship for political incorrectness. This is an impertinent and foul-mouthed series that makes no apology for being so, full of poisoned darts against messianism and the blind, unquestioning enthronement of symbols, against the collective tendency to cling to comforts without asking if there’s a price to pay. Then there is their savage subversion of the superhero persona, presenting them as beings plagued with double standards, who in public claim to save us but are actually disgusting in private, in a metaphor of power (and how permissive we tend to be with it) that goes far beyond the uniform trend. The show also features a gory critique of the industry that squeezes these characters dry leaving them devoid of meaning and converting us into a faithful flock serving purely commercial interests. Let’s not forget the series’ hyperbolic violence and biting analysis of the media. In short, “The Boys” has managed to become the perfect satire for Trump’s America, and at the same time an appeal to the critical spirit of popular culture.
By now, we’ve grown accustomed to being sold on the merits of a second season (like movie sequels) and how they’ll offer us more and better. But this is actually one of the rare cases in which the second season truly does deliver more and better. The latest installment of “The Boys” persists in taking us through the narrative archway it embarked on in season one (the quasi-suicidal crusade of a group of marginal humans to show the world that superheroes are a fraud) without budging an inch from their formal register, preserving coherence of tone and even providing fresh pretexts adding value to the series as a whole. One prime example is the character of Stormfront and the discourse, already present in season one, on the role which the world of showbiz intends to bestow on women: it’s hard to find such an acute denunciation of male toxicity, control, objectification and psychological abuse in any other current series. It also continues to deliver its fair share of perverse details (all having to do with Butcher’s family), priceless gags (The Deep, again an inexhaustible source of hilarious situations) and the feeling that anything is possible. But the one character above all who justifies the very existence of the show is the remarkable Homelander: a synthesis of the story and his ill-tempered demeanor will have you begging for him to reappear at every point throughout the show. He’s terrifying (in the extreme), catches you off-guard and amuses in identical proportions. A credit to both screenwriters, who are perfectly aware of his potential, and the actor himself, Antony Starr.