Gen V

Gen V

A familiar "adult" take on superheroes but with more characters worth caring for

6.8

TV Show

United States of America
English
Action & Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
2023
Asa Germann, Chance Perdomo, Derek Luh

TLDR

I've always wanted a sequel to the 2005 Disney superhero comedy Sky High.

What it's about

Having been given superpowers by a dangerous experimental serum, several college students uncover dark secrets about their superhero training university.

The take

As a spin-off of The Boys, Gen V returns to the same well of explicit, hyperviolent satire about seemingly benevolent superheroes—touching on many ideas that the franchise has already explored more strikingly before. This series' first three episodes are at their least effective when they get hung up on the shock factor of it all, with its satire often appearing as "cool" as the thing that it aims to satirize. But when the show quiets down and finally focuses up on its handful of main characters, it finds fresh ground for commentary.

At its heart this is a story about how the education system can be so easily bought by wealthy stakeholders who care more about producing star graduates than actually helping young people excel and find a place in the world. These kids are also immediately much easier to root for than Billy Butcher and his antihero crew, as each of them gradually reveals the trauma they're recovering from as a result of being experimented on and exploited. Gen V's central mysteries are slow to develop so far, but just seeing how this school-slash-factory is run helps make up for the slower pace.

What stands out

Easily the series' most sympathetic and likable character so far is Lizze Broadway's Emma (also known as "Little Cricket" after starring in a children's show) who has the power to shrink in size. But what makes this ability so horrifying for her is that she can only activate it by "purging," or by intentionally making herself throw up—an obvious but no less disturbing spin on how young performers are made to hurt themselves and develop disorders just to stay in entertainment. Emma doesn't even want to graduate from the crimefighting track, which makes her journey all the more compelling. And Broadway gives her a heart of gold despite all her suffering.

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