Two weeks ago, I covered The Boys’ then-upcoming spinoff series, Gen V, discussing what to expect, where it was filmed (University of Toronto Mississauga, no less), and who is in it. While all the pieces were there, and the excellent animated series The Boys Presents: Diabolical proved that the minds behind the original show know how to do a solid spinoff, we had yet to see it all come together in Gen V, but following its September 29th debut, it’s safe to say that Eric Kripke and company have done it again!
Set in the Godolkin University School of Crimefighting, Gen V centres on a group of youths striving to top the ranks at the university, or at least make the coveted top ten, with many of them hoping to join the world’s most famous superhero team, The Seven. The show’s main character is Jaz Sinclair’s Marie Moreau (with Marvel-esque alliteration and all), who has the ability to control and manipulate blood, a power that tragically killed her parents when it first surfaced. Marie leaves an orphanage for the superpowered (or supers, as they’re called in this universe) to join Godolkin University, where she meets a number of other students, each with their own abilities and motivations. However, as with anything that is run by Vought International – the villainous corporation from The Boys that invented the serum to create supes, Compound V – Goldolkin University is not what it seems, and after one particularly devastating event on the campus, they begin to take a closer look at what is really going on there.
What’s clear early on is that Gen V is a refreshingly different beast from The Boys, which has quite a cynical outlook on supes, who are essentially stand-ins for our own modern celebrity, but this spinoff injects a surprising amount of humanity into these young adult characters. Even just by simply looking at the respective powers of each character it’s easy to see what they are going for in Gen V. Marie must slice open her palm any time she wants she bend and manipulate her own blood, unconvincingly insisting that she does it out of necessity; her roommate Emma Meyer (Lizzie Broadway), a social media star, can change her size drastically by purging and eating, though she claims to have it under control; Cate Dunlap (Maddie Phillips), a kind and beautiful student who can manipulate the thoughts and emotions of others by touch, but is hesitant to use her power in morally questionable situations; Jordan Li, a highly motivated student and teacher’s assistant who has the ability to shift their sex at a whim, each with their own superpowered abilities, though their ambition is limited by the more conservative demographics of America; and Andre Anderson (Chance Perdomo), who has the ability of magnetic manipulation and is one of the top ranked students in the university, yet he has less control over his own life with a father, a former superhero, who is pushing his son to be more than he ever was.
As you can probably tell by now, those behind the show incorporate prevalent personal and mental health issues among the young adults of today and seamlessly weave them into the narrative in ways that don’t feel forced or gimmicky, proving that Gen V is much more than just a clever title. Yet, it is difficult to overstate how well-conceived the character work on the show is, with Marie’s heartbreaking backstory taking centre stage, but the progressive unveiling of the other characters’ backgrounds and personal lives is utterly compelling, particularly that of Patrick Schwarzenegger’s Luke Riordan, otherwise known as Golden Boy. Of course, it also helps that the acting is stellar across the board.
With all my gushing, this is from having watched only two of the four episodes currently released, but Gen V is nonetheless shaping up to be one of my favourite TV shows of the year. While there is still the second half of episodes to be released and judged, I am already assured it is in very capable hands as the likes of Eric Kripke, Evan Goldberg and Craig Rosenberg continue to confidently expand one of the richest universes in the medium right now.