‘Gen V’ is a spin-off series of the critically-acclaimed ‘The Boys’, taking the blood, guts, and gore straight out of the show and applies it to a school setting. Yet it’s a mixture that doesn’t quite work, especially due to the tonal disconnect loss and little of the complexity and humor that made ‘The Boys’ great. The mystery ‘Gen V’ crafts is compelling, but the story often halts itself to overemphasize some details to drive sympathy.
Audiences follow new student Marie Moreau, played by Jaz Sinclair as she joins the superhero school Godolkin University. Her powers are unique, with the ability to control blood in disgusting, innovative and, most importantly for this show, bloody ways. When she gets to Godolkin however, she and her fellow students become embroiled in a mystery that will see her exposing a massive conspiracy at the school.
‘The Boys’ is well-known for deconstructing and taking apart modern superhero culture, with The Seven analogous to The Justice League. ‘Gen V’ continues this, with Godolkin University and its student’s sharing parallels to ‘X-Men’ media, such as the Charles Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters and ‘The New Mutants’ film/comics. And in that it succeeds, cleverly showing the disgusting ways teenagers would truly behave if they had this kind of power bestowed upon them, but also the curses that these gifts are.
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The core characters of ‘Gen V’ feature Marie Moreau, Jordan Li, a gender-swapping Asian, Emma Meyer, a teen who shrinks herself, Andre Anderson, a teen who can manipulate metal, Luke Riordan, a teen who lights himself on fire, and Cate Dunlap, a young woman who can control people through the slightest touch. They’re all convincing as teens battling their own inner demons as well as the nefarious forces at the school, and their chemistry together is believable. But some of these inner demons get too much time to shine, and it detracts from the larger story at play.
‘Gen V’ misses the nuance and humor ‘The Boys’ injects into its world. In ‘The Boys’, there are plenty of shades of grey with the Supes and the humans, with understandable motives all while lapooning contemporary political and corporate issues. ‘Gen V’ presents a more one-sided view of this world, with more clear-cut heroes and villains.And apart from a look at the implications of Jordan’s gender-swapping powers, which will surely resonate with many people, and the small but impactful ways some teens will use their powers for clout in the earlier episodes, the main focus is on the mystery at play. It’s a huge loss for a universe that prides itself on complexity.
This focus on the mystery has an impact on tone. It’s why ‘Gen V’ is more comparable to the dark ‘The New Mutants’ than the upbeat nature of Charles’ School. There are several similarities between the two, and ‘Gen V’ shows what can be done with that premise when it isn’t squandered like it was in ‘The New Mutants’. ‘Gen V’ isn’t a horror, but its creepy atmosphere and central mystery weigh heavily over the show. It pushes out most of the dark and clever humor that ‘The Boys’ had. The blood is still there, but it feels like blood for blood’s sake in some cases.
If audiences haven’t seen the prior seasons of ‘The Boys’ before ‘Gen V’, they should take the time to. Not only are they fantastic takedowns of superheroes and society at large, but ‘Gen V’ would likely make little sense without prior knowledge of what happens in the show. And what happens in this show will almost certainly impact the future of ‘The Boys’, meaning that fans of the show should make themselves aware of what’s happening at Godolkin.
‘Gen V’ isn’t as captivating as the three seasons of ‘The Boys’ that came before it, but the central mystery at play is compelling to watch with likable characters and creative power use. But the loss of nuance in this world and the moral complexity is disappointing, and the excess blood and gore doesn’t make up for it.