Sunday 5 November 2023

GenV: sharp witted social commentary

gen v ad
Sharp witted social commentary wrapped in spandex and capes. Just... without capes or spandex. Yet. I think Homelander is wearing some other kind of synthetic fabric... 

GenV is crass, graphically violent, irreverent, and cynical. It's also riotously funny and incisive, if you're in the right mood.

I can totally understand why some people don't like the show. I get it. It pushes the envelope of what's acceptable on television. 

The violence is over the top grisly and the camera does not shy away. At all. Fists are covered in bits of brain, bloody body parts are scattered about, arms are ripped off and ragged flesh hangs from the stump. It's awful and gruesome. 

And yet, the violence here is more impactful and horrific than in the sanitized and equally violent Marvel or Star Wars franchises. People get shot, decapitated, vaporized, disemboweled, and worse in those shows, and we don't even blink. 

With GenV and The Boys, the violence makes me never want to actually engage in real violence, it's that ugly. 

It has an impact.

GenV also delights in skewering vacuous marketing platitudes, showing the unvarnished truth beneath the palatable lies. There are a few lines that made me laugh out loud.

The show pits bright eyed and bushy tailed student idealists, full of hope and credulity, getting slammed face first into the brick wall of adult realism. Their trust is taken advantage of and ultimately completely betrayed, ripping out the underpinnings of their world. 

The character work is solid; everyone has a tragic backstory, and a closet full of skeletons. Guilt undergirds many. They're nuanced, rather than black or white, and sympathies can shift about as the program progresses. Some character pivots don't work quite as well as others, but they all are driven by their circumstances and history. 

Those on a quest for redemption, looking to conform with proper societal expectations, realize they aren't as uniquely horrific as they had assumed: this entire world is drenched in debauchery, hypocrisy, cruelty and exploitation. Those they look to for validation turn out to be infinitely worse.

GenV depicts this as unflinchingly as in the flagship The Boys, and several characters (natch) cross over into the spinoff. Nothing like a surprise guest appearance to boost interest.

As a bonus, they lay waste to UofT's Erindale campus. What fun!

The ending has a twist and leaves the main characters in limbo, awaiting season two. 

I'll be tuning in. 

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