You Should Be Watching Vol. 1 | Thoughts on The Boys, The Society, and Euphoria
It feels good to be back.
2019 has been an interesting TV year so far. Iconic shows came to an end (RIP Game of Thrones/Veep/Broad City), a few highly anticipated comebacks have disappointed (RIP Big Little Lies), and new shows debuted to critical and general acclaim. Naturally, as a self-proclaimed TV critic, I’ve watched my fair share of television this year, so I decided to dip the pen once again and give my thoughts on what you should be watching right now if you haven’t already.
DISCLAIMER: If your favorite show is missing from this list, it’s okay. I wasn’t going to write about every show. Just a select few.
Not So Super Heroes
The Boys - Amazon Prime TV
In no way did I predict this happening, but The Boys may be the show I’m most excited about going forward. It completely subverted my expectations, and I think it has the real potential to be something special. First things first, The Boys is not your typical superhero show. Set in present-day New York City, superheroes, or ‘supes’ as they’re called in-show, are managed by corporations, the largest of these being Vought America, which is the home of the show’s version of the Justice League, ‘The Seven’. Supes are the biggest celebrities in the world, and just like many celebrities in real life, most of them have fallen victim to the trappings of fame. In other words, supes are self-centered dickheads who are more worried about approval ratings than actually saving the world. The Boys follows a group of people who have all been wronged by supes in different ways and want revenge.
I didn’t really know what to expect from this show when I first pressed play, but I definitely didn’t expect it to be this good. A relatively no-name cast turns in great performances consistently. The special effects are great compared to all the other superhero shows on tv, and they’ll only get better with an increased budget. The characters are compelling and easy to root for or against, and even though it’s considered a dark comedy, the show makes some pretty poignant statements on real-life subjects and issues. As someone who’s been suffering from superhero fatigue lately, I found The Boys to be a refreshing take on the genre and a much-needed break from the overly sweet, dad comedy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Super or not, the characters in this show feel much more human and relatable than many of the infallible beings in the MCU, and it pays dividends. I watched all 8 episodes in less than 24 hours and wanted to run it back as soon as it ended. With America’s undying love for superheroes, it wouldn’t surprise me if The Boys becomes a huge hit with a bigger budget to explore the world of Billy Butcher and The Boys even further.
Teen Drama Wars
I tend to stay away from high school dramas these days. I don’t really miss those days, and I just prefer to watch adults interact. Teen dramas definitely have their place, but for the past few years, I’ve been cool on them. That being said, I'm a fraud and I’ve watched two so far this year, The Society and Euphoria. One was recommended by a TV podcast I love, the other I had to watch because my girlfriend, Zendaya, is in it. Obviously, Euphoria was a huge hit and was met with a lot of praise from the general public. The Society wasn’t met with as much public fanfare, but critics seemed to really appreciate it. I hate (love) to pit two shows against each other in comparison, but here I go.
The Society - Netflix
I’m not going to lie to y’all. When I first started watching this show I didn’t know if I was going to finish. It was intriguing, but it felt a little trashy and it seemed as if my attention would be better focused elsewhere. But then something that I won't spoil happens and the entire season flips on its head and I’ll be damned if I’m not feening for a second season. The Society is a teen soap with possible supernatural elements that tells the story of a high school senior class that returns home from a canceled retreat to find all the adults in their town of West Ham, Connecticut missing. This is fun for a while of course, until they realize the adults aren’t coming back any time soon and a society can’t function without rules but for so long.
Like any good binge-worthy Netflix show, there are twists and turns, but there's a surprising level of depth and complexity that I never saw coming after the first couple of episodes. The cast, led by Kathryn Newton (Abigail from Big Little Lies), does a good job of adding color to some otherwise pretty stereotypical high school drama characters with their performances. The Society is not a perfect show by any means, but if you’re looking for something to binge to take your mind off of something or a palate cleanser after watching something heavier, the first season shows a lot of promise and room to expand into a fully realized world. It’ll keep you on the edge of your seat/bed/couch the whole way through. My only real knock is that it can seem a little hokey every now and then. There’s also not enough black people, but then again, it’s set in Connecticut.
Euphoria - HBO
I’m just going to come out and say it, I’m cool on a season 2 of Euphoria. I’m sorry, Zendaya. I tried. I really did. But y'all lost me. I’ve got a laundry list of issues with Euphoria, and I’ll probably address them all on a podcast soon. But for now, I’ll talk about where the show shined in some places and failed miserably in others.
I don’t necessarily think Euphoria is a bad television show. I actually quite enjoyed some parts. BUT the only things keeping Euphoria from being Riverdale with an HBO budget are the performances of Zendaya as Rue and Angus Cloud as Fezco. In my opinion, most of this show felt unnecessary. I feel like they did a lot to try and get people talking, and kudos to them because it worked, but that doesn’t always make for good TV. I’ll admit, the episodes look really cool, and I thoroughly enjoyed most of the cold open scenes about various characters. But most of the characters still felt stale to me, even after their childhood traumas were explained to us (WHY DIDN’T WE GET A FEZ COLD OPEN???).
Spoiler Alert: the next paragraph contains spoilers for Euphoria, but we've all seen it, right?
Nate is your standard, closeted jock high school villain that sees no consequences for his villainy or his confusion about his sexuality. He seems to be the only one who cares about it. His girlfriend tells him sexuality is a spectrum. The whole school soon hears about the cache of dick pics on his phone and nobody calls him out for it. Why is he still so pressed about it? McKay, the 5’6” D1 wide receiver realizes he’s probably not going to the NFL just like 98% of all other college football players. At least you found out before you entered your name into the draft bro. Suck it up. We find out Cassie is a hopeless romantic who struggles with placing her value in what men think of her because her father left her family at a young age, but we don’t explore this dynamic with Lexi, the much more interesting of the two sisters. Why not? Don’t even get me started on Maddy. If you can find me one 17-year-old girl who has seen Casino I’ll give you $20. If that same girl idolizes Ginger I’ll give you another $20.
The performances are fine, but I just really find it hard to care about these characters because at the end of the day they all do the same thing. Get drunk, do drugs and hook up with various people. The only characters who do different things with real stakes are Rue, an addict, Fez, a drug dealer, and Jules, Rue’s reason for sobriety. Everyone else is kind of just there. If they subbed out Maddy and Cassie’s cold opens for Fez and Lexi and actually created some stakes for Nate’s internal and external conflicts rather than making him a criminal mastermind and 99 overall Road to Glory quarterback they might be on to something. But they didn’t, and for the time being, I regret to inform you all that I’m out on season 2. You hate to see it.
Of course there are other shows that are worth talking about. Succession is coming back this weekend, and I'm excited for that. Westworld is coming back soon, and based on the trailer... what. But I'll be tuned in regardless. Peaky Blinders should be back soon, and I can't wait to see what Tommy and the boys are up to this time around. Apparently I need to watch Money Heist too, so I'll get on that. If you have any other suggestions, let me know!
'You Hate to See It' podcast coming soon, I promise.