Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

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Set in the world of The Boys, Gen V follows the exploits of a group of students at Godolkin University, an institute exclusively dedicated to educating the US’ young superheroes (’supes’). Against the backdrop of increasingly violent politics and the innumerable crimes of superhero corporation Vought, young adult drama soon turns serious when it appears something shady is going on at GodU.

This review relates to the first season only

I was surprised I liked The Boys, so when I was in the Prime app and saw a spin-off had appeared, I figured I would give that a go too. Unfortunately, it didn’t really live up to my expectations.

A lot of Gen V is decent – it looks good, the acting isn’t bad, and I think a lot of the character writing is well done – I especially like Emma/Little Cricket’s character and arc. I guess the plot is on the ‘eh’ side of acceptable, with a predictable magic school-through line and the by now almost inevitable crosses and double crosses towards the end of the season. The setting – a world with a cynical take on superheroes and modern politics – is still strong.

However, where I felt The Boys got the message mostly right, Gen V misses the mark just a bit too often. The Boys, told from the perspective of ‘normal’ humans, shows us that supes in a position of privilege almost inevitably abuse their power. And while Gen V would have been the perfect opportunity to show us how good kids get corrupted by an inequitable system, we instead see that the real problem is revenge-bent, evil, manipulative individuals with megalomaniac plans.

Similarly, being told from the perspective of supes, Gen V mostly ignores non-supe characters, falling into exactly the trap that The Boys criticises, i.e. that normal people don’t matter to supes; here, they’re not made to matter to the viewer. It all fits the ‘standard’ progression of a superhero story, but doesn’t rhyme well with the societal criticism the series seems to want to deliver.

In short, Gen V was definitely watchable but also at times annoying or frustrating, and never particularly rewarding. If you’re planning on watching, I would recommend putting it on in the background while cooking or ironing or something suchlike – definitely not sit-down-to-watch television.

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