This review may contain spoilers.
2023 has not produced many standout TV shows. We have had the best with "The Last of Us" on Max, but we have also had the worst with "Ahsoka" on Disney+. Thankfully, Amazon Prime's "Gen V" is a surprisingly good spin-off to an already perfect show called "The Boys."
Without spoilers, "The Boys" is a satirical show about superheroes who are also celebrities and abuse their status in order to do whatever they want. For those wanting a spoiler-free review of "Gen V," the show is excellent and worthy of your time if you have watched "The Boys" or are into superheroes.
"Gen V" takes "The Boys" plot to the college campus setting called Godolkin University (God U for short), where super-abled students compete in the areas of crime fighting and acting. The plot revolves around Marie Moreau, played by Jaz Sinclair, as she joins the school and discovers the dark secrets it keeps. The show also stars Maddie Phillips as Cate Dunlap, Chance Perdomo as Andre Anderson, Lizze Broadway as Emma Meyer, Asa Germann as Sam and both Derek Luh and London Thor as Jordan Li.
The group discovers the dark secrets at the school and that things are not as perfect as they may seem. Without spoiling anything, the plot is dark and compelling, in line with its parent show, "The Boys." The college campus never feels fake, and lots of details were put into the show to make everything feel as realistic as possible. Chelsea Grate and Lauren Greer, some of the writers for the show, did an excellent job of bringing their world to life.
Some praise then should be given to showrunner Eric Kripke of "The Boys," as his style of writing and directing has translated directly to "Gen V." The writing style is noticeably intelligent, funny where it should be and serious where it is needed. Compared to many movies and TV shows that have come out this year, the writing and plot are in the upper echelon so far, which can not be praised enough.
One thing that this show portrays unexpectedly well is mental illnesses. Many of the characters in this show deal with extreme trauma experience visions, hallucinations and depression, all of which are conveyed with respect but extreme accuracy. When a character envisions a security guard as a puppet or sees a dead character, it is all played straight. They do not make dumb jokes or try to make fun of the situation. When a character goes through something, they make it serious.
For a show that stars young adults, the acting is well done. Young actors can be very hit or miss, and in some shows, actors are not chosen for their acting talent but for their looks instead. Kripke did a great job of casting, as all the actors were perfect for their roles. One standout job was Thor and Luh, who played a male and female version of the same character.
In between scenes, Jordan switches from male to female, and both actors do a great job of playing the same character, regardless of the differences. Not only do they both look alike, but they have the same candor and portray the character the same way, which is extremely difficult to accomplish.
Another great young actor was Germann, who plays Sam, a kid tortured by the school and whose mind is completely fractured, sometimes imagining people as puppets. Germann does an excellent job with his character. He plays him in a way where you can never really tell what is going on inside his broken head, the way he acts with his scared glances whenever he is outside or his violent outbursts when wanting to get revenge on the people who tortured him for his entire life is spot on. He is one of the best characters in this show and grabs your attention whenever he is on screen.
The length of the show could have been improved. Despite being an Amazon Prime show with eight episodes, they are extremely short. At least half of the episodes are under 40 minutes, and no episode exceeds the hour mark. Considering "The Boys" episodes range from one hour to an hour and 20 minutes, this was disappointing.
However, once you see the show as a whole, you can tell that many episodes could have been grouped together or were added as filler. One good example would be the fourth episode, which is mostly a filler episode and could have been completely removed from the show with nothing changed. However, the fifth and sixth episodes were one episode that was cut in half, as they pick up directly after each other and would have flowed better if they were combined. Both of these episodes were very short and feel incomplete without the other.
The same goes for the seventh and eighth episodes, which were split up to make an eight-episode show. Episodes Seven and Eight combine so perfectly that you can tell where the editor cut the scene and added a cliffhanger to make it two episodes. This could explain why each episode is 35-40 minutes instead of a combined hour and 10 minutes. This is not something that breaks the show, but hopefully, season two will have a more in-depth plot where the runtime can justify the episode length.
Nothing much was expected for "Gen V," but the show blew all expectations up to the moon and more. It is a breath of fresh air in a very middling fall lineup. This show is not something special, as it is not as brutal as "The Boys," nor is the plot or writing better. Still, season one gave surprising twists, well-written characters, and great directing.
For people who have seen "The Boys" or like superhero shows, it will be easy to fall in love with this show. Season four of "The Boys" is supposed to connect with this show, and it cannot come soon enough.