#REVIEW: The Boys, Season 2

Before I get into the post itself, I just want to point out that I find it kind of funny that I made a point of mentioning the other day that I hadn’t missed a post since April, and then bloody went and forgot to post yesterday until almost 11:30, at which point my inner fuck it, nobody is paying me for this kicked in and I didn’t bother throwing something onto the site just to check off the day. In my defense, yesterday was a deeply weird, schedule-murdering sort of day, the kind of day where you wake up with a certain set of expectations on how the day is going to go and then those expectations are rather rudely tossed onto their ear before you’ve finished your coffee.

What we did manage to do was finish the second season of The Boys. And while I watched the first season by myself, my wife was along for the ride for the entire season this time, thus the “we” and the slightly longer amount of time elapsing before its release and me managing to watch it all. The first season of The Boys was … messy. Real messy. To the point where I felt kind of squicky about recommending people watch it.

The second season was phenomenal.

Now, let’s not misrepresent things: The Boys is still hyper-violent (exploding heads make up more of the season’s plot points than you might typically see in a TV show, and there’s a thing that happens with a whale that is, like, wow) and profane and a lot of other stuff, but while the first season followed the comic books into leaning way too hard into sexual violence and rape than anything really needs to be, the second season has none of that. In general, the female characters are treated much better this season; there’s no fridging at all, and most of the new characters introduced are women.

This show does a couple of things that I really like. First, the acting remains absolutely top-tier across the damn board. Antony Starr as Homelander is Goddamned amazing. This is the role of Karl Urban’s life. The relationship between Jack Quaid and Erin Moriarty’s Hughie and Starlight is sweet and awkward in all sorts of adorable ways. And Giancarlo Esposito is in this show and I praised four other actors before I got around to mentioning him. I mean, come on. And while I wasn’t happy with the semi-redemption arc Chace Crawford’s The Deep got last season, his role this season is far more interesting than last year’s. And his character is responsible for what might be the single greatest cameo in the history of television. You wouldn’t think that the acting and the character work would be the highlight of a show that spends fully three-fourths of a season making you think a head might literally explode at any given moment, but it absolutely is.

(Also, I want every shirt that Mother’s Milk wears during the series. Every single one.)

The second thing that I love about the show is how it has handled adapting the comic book, and it’s kind of fascinating to me that my other example of an outstanding adaptation, The Walking Dead, is also an adaptation to TV of a comic book series. This is the right way to adapt things, guys: take what you think works from the original material and then twist it and fuck with it however you want so that the people who know the source material don’t necessarily know what’s coming next. Something happens at the end that manages to recast the entire first two seasons as a prequel, at least of sorts, to the place where the entire comic series starts. And while at least part of this season is taken, broadly, from the comic book, a huge chunk of it isn’t, and there’s no smug “I know what’s going to happen at the Red Wedding!” sort of scenes for people who have read the comics. I knew one reveal was coming about one character, and one major reveal from the end of the comic series appears to not be the case in the TV series, based on about four seconds of footage in the second-to-last episode. So they’re definitely going their own way here.

The last time I talked about this show, I ended with “If you think this is something you might like, and you’ve already got Amazon Prime, maybe check it out.” I’m still not telling you to get Amazon Prime just for the show, but it’s definitely a reason to get Prime now, as opposed to an ancillary side benefit, and if you already have the service you should strongly consider checking it out if the ultraviolence isn’t going to push you away.

In which all I do is review things now

This week was seven hundred years long and featured hospitals and shingles— the disease, not the roof covering–, neither of which I was directly involved in, but I’m tired and utterly refuse to brain in any significant capacity right now. Luckily I have massive megacorporations providing entertainment to soothe me. So: two brief mini-reviews.

I have watched both episodes of The Mandalorian that have been released, and it’s pretty solid. It’s definitely Star Wars– the series not feeling right was my second biggest fear behind the fact that it was going to secretly be about Boba Fett, which it isn’t– and while I wasn’t sold on the music or the humor after the first episode I was right in suspecting that I just needed to get used to it. My favorite thing about the show so far is that it subtly reinforces the idea that Mandalorians aren’t actually the big tough badasses that Star Wars have been pretending they are for years– Boba Fett got killed by a blind man with a stick and a monster that couldn’t move, and the Mandalorian (who still doesn’t have a name) gets his ass kicked by Jawas in the second episode. I mean, it’s hilarious, but still. I don’t know that this is worth getting Disney+ for all by itself, but if you’re a Star Wars sort of person you probably already have your subscription and have watched the show already.

I have beaten this now, and everything I said in my early impressions post still holds: this is basically a Fallout game, only more Westerny and less post-apocalyptic, and with Mass Effect/Dragon Age-style companions. If you like that sort of thing, you’ll get along with it perfectly well, and unlike the last Dragon Age game I was actually able to finish it without dying of boredom, but I’m starting to think that unless someone does something to radically shake up how this genre works I think I’m going to tap out of it now, because long quest chains and ceaseless fetch quests just aren’t fun for me anymore. I damn near turned the game off when one character literally asked me to go ask another character if a poster he’d ordered had arrived yet, and I accidentally screwed up a quest late in the game involving modeling for an NPC and when I looked up what might have happened had I not messed it up I realized that there were 10,000 more things to do for it and I’d have been howling and throwing shit at the walls by the end of it. It’s mostly well-written and entertaining beyond that, but this game demands a bit more patience than I actually have available to me right now. I might go through it once more to see how some quests might go when I make different choices, but it won’t be happening for a while.

On explaining gay people to your presumably straight kids

This just happened.

THE SCENE: We are watching the final episode of Season 2 of She-Ra. It is revealed that a character (no spoilers) has two dads.

THE BOY: Two dads?

MY WIFE: Yep.

ME: It happens.

THE BOY: Oh, okay.

End scene.

Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews: THE DAY MY BUTT WENT PSYCHO

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So the boy has figured out how to use the Netflix app on his (my) iPad, meaning that he no longer really watches “TV” in the classic sense, ie, on an actual television.  He’s also become a bit less likely to get religion about a show for weeks at a time.  The New Hotness might last only a few days now before he moves onto something else.  Also, because he’s watching on a personal device, what he’s watching requires a bit more direct monitoring than the TV, which gets shoved into my brain if I’m in the room whether I want to or not.

A couple of weeks ago I’m sitting in my recliner, probably reading or something, and he’s on the couch watching some damn thing on the iPad.  After a few minutes, I realize that the word butt has floated into my earballs just a bit more than random chance might otherwise suggest, and I start paying attention.   And the word butt continues to fly from the iPad.

“Boy, what the hell are you watching?”

“The Day my Butt went Psycho,” he says.

“What’s it really called?” I say.

This confuses him.  At any rate, he’s telling the truth, and The Day My Butt Went Psycho is an actual fucking show, made by Canadians and Australians, no less, two peoples who I thought had more sense than this, and based on an actual book.  Although it doesn’t appear to be actually about a particular day, or anyone’s particular butt going psycho.  No, this show’s actually the weirdest post-apocalyptic fantasy in television history:

Butts!  Always one step behind.  Years ago, butts rose up to overthrow humanity.  People fought back!  And now an uneasy peace remains, as the world waits for the next great buttfighter!

Here, there, everywhere, 
Butts are loose but we don’t care
I’m teaming up with my butt
Cheek for cheek, an awesome pair
We’ve got the same DNA
Kicking butt in every waaaaay
Zach and Deuce forever!

I…

I have so many questions.  How many years ago did this happen?  Decades?  Just a couple of years?  Has Zach’s butt Deuce always been detatched, or as the show implies, did it happen when he was a teenager?  Are children born with their butts detatched?  Can butts reproduce on their own without human assistance?  Do butts automatically match their humans in gender?  How the hell does pooping and digestion in general work now? Do butts need to eat?

What the merry fuck is buttfighting?  Why is the world waiting for a buttfighter, and how will a buttfighter help with the “uneasy peace” between people and butts?  Zach and Deuce are best friends; are they unusual in this respect?  Do most people not get along with their butts?  How does that work?  What happens to the people whose butts were killed during the Great Butt Uprising?  What happens to the butts whose people were killed during the Great Butt Uprising?  Have animals also lost their butts?  What about other living things who possess a digestive system and a means of excretion but do not, precisely speaking, have what we would call a “butt”?

What exactly is a butt, anyway?

I need to know the answers to these questions.  But without, like, watching the show or anything, because I just cannot handle this number of butt-related puns, with episodes like Butt I’m a Cheerleader and Jurassic Fart and Game of Porcelain Thrones and My God Just Kill Me and maybe I made up that last one.

This show is not telling the stories I want to hear.  I need worldbuilding here, people!  Exposition!  When are the prequels coming out?  I must know about the uprising.

God help me.

God help us all.

Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews: THE AMAZING WORLD OF GUMBALL

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This show has been the New Hotness around here for maybe three weeks or so, and he really hasn’t watched anything else during that time.  Outside of Teen Titans Go!, which it just occurs to me has never been the subject of one of these posts, it might be my favorite series he’s ever watched, to the point where I really don’t even have anything snarky to say about it, just a recommendation that you go watch it yourself, even if you don’t have a little kid in the house to give you an excuse.

The premise: the blue, oddly wide-hipped cat on the right is Gumball Watterson, a middle-school aged cat-thing.  The orange thing in the green socks on the left is Darwin Raglan Caspian Ahab Poseidon Nicodemius Watterson III.  That’s not a joke.  They call him Darwin, but that’s his name. Darwin is a fish, and he used to be Gumball’s pet and live in a bowl on his desk, but apparently I missed the episode where he grew legs and became a main character or something?  I dunno, roll with it.

(In time-honored The Boy Is Watching TV fashion, I haven’t seen the episodes in anything even vaguely resembling the order they aired in, so I’m sure I’m missing lots of stuff.  But yeah, Darwin’s a fish, and used to be a pet, but now he can breathe air and walk around. Make something up so it makes sense.)

Also, Darwin is a cat, and his mom is a cat, but the fish is also his brother in addition to being his former pet, and his dad and his sister are both rabbits.  The role of genetics in this world is somewhat suspect.  Also, his dad is a genial useless Homer Simpson type without the cynicism– oddly, I find dad weirdly refreshing– and Mom may be a no-shit actual ninja when she isn’t housewifing.

Take a good long look at that picture up there, which includes a decent chunk of the cast. You will note that there appear to be a pretty wide variety of animation styles on display, from traditional 2D animation to 3D CGI to papercraft to 8-bit pixel art to 1930s-style cel animation to puppetry to stop-motion to live-action.  The characters themselves range from animals to insects to robots to inanimate objects (one character is a bomb with legs) and food to Sussie.  This is Sussie:

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Sussie, if you can’t immediately tell, is someone’s upside-down face with googly eyes glued to her (?) chin.  (Sussie is female, but I think the chins are mostly guys?  They’re not always the same chin; that one snaggletooth in the picture isn’t always there.) We watched a Sussie-centered episode last night before going to bed and she was what convinced me that this show needed one of these pieces written about it, because Sussie is fucked up, guys.  She apparently takes her eyes off before she sleeps, and then peels them off of a sheet of googly-eyes to put them on in the morning?  And the episode was about her making Gumball and Darwin wear her googly eyes over her real eyes, and then they saw the world the way she does, and the entire episode was a fucked-up masterpiece of 3000 different styles of animation all in the same episode, and it was weird and brilliant and

(brief pause while I realize the second Tunisian player is being stretchered off the field since I started typing this; damn, but the Belgians and Tunisians are going at each other hard in this match)

and anyway the show is weird and dark and funny and insanely inventive and adventurous and original and has the best facial expressions of any animated television program I’ve ever seen and it’s genuinely worth a watch even if you don’t have a kid in the house to give you an excuse.  Actually, let’s talk about those facial expressions for a moment; one of the results about this show’s refusal to stick to a single stye of animation is that they’re free to vary things like line weight as much as they want, which gives them a tremendous range of expression when they need it:

Multiply this across literally every character on the show and you’ve got something really special.  Go check this one out.