Low Key


'The Boys' Gives Superheroes the 'Game of Thrones' Treatment

Season 1, Ep. 36

"Game of Thrones" decapitated fairy tale and fantasy tropes by giving us deeply flawed knights, kings and queens. Amazon's new "The Boys" similarly demystifies superheroes, as we discuss on the latest "Low Key" podcast.

Every week on "Low Key," Aaron Lanton, Keith Dennie and Tim Molloy look at pop culture subtleties and what they mean. "The Boys," Eric Kripke's adaptation of Gareth Ennis' comic book about the antiheroes who try to rein in corrupt superheroes, is full of nuance -- as well as very unsubtle sex and violence. 

"The Boys" works if you love superhero movies, but might work even better if you're totally sick of them. If you're one of those people who thinks DC and Marvel movies are crowding out movies for grown-ups, you'll probably appreciate the "Boys" POV that superheroes are mass-marketed profit generators, not uber-beings who deserve our adoration.

"The Boys" is pretty gruesome and cynical in places, but that feels like a direct responser to the occasional slickness of past superhero stories. It asks us to imagine what heroes would be like if they didn't turn down salaries and try to deflect attention from themselves, and instead bickered over photo ops and marketing deals. It's easy to imagine "The Boys" as a show about crisis PR.

And it throws in quite a few surprises.

"The Boys" is executive produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who previously executive produced the Ennis adaptation "Preacher."

Here are a few of the things we discuss, with timestamps: 


:45: Some interesting feedback on our last episode, on pandering. (Send your feedback to @timamolloy or @alanton11 on Twitter, or @thelowkeypod on Instagram

3:46: Some thoughts on "Preacher."

6:20: Comparing how we think about superheroes, and how we think about cops

9:20: Is Batman a little bit fascist?

15:20: Remember how selfish Spider-Man used to be?

17:30: Praise for Elisabeth Shue, Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Erin Moriarty, Jesse Usher, Chace Crawford, Anthony Starr and everyone else in the cast

18:25: How Homelander kind of reminds us of John Paul Gosselaar

18:49: "He just looks like the human personification of white supremacy"

23:30: "It's been a while since I watched a show and I get to the end and I'm about to flip the f---ing table"

More Episodes


Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado

Season 1, Ep. 70
In this episode we explore Netflix's Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado, about a Puerto Rican TV astrologer who rose from humble beginnings to become a sequin-caped inspiration to millions.With his distinctive look, aura of mystery — especially about his sexuality — and ability to blend many religious beliefs into a medley of optimism, Walter Mercado gave hope to the hopeless — until an ugly legal dispute yanked him from the air and cost him control of his own carefully cultivated image.:45: Our late-night infomercial memories3:00: Is the Michael Jordan-approved The Last Dance real journalism? Is Walter Mercado getting the Michael Jordan treatment?5:45: "Celebrities nowadays are derivatives of celebrities back in the day."5:50: How Walter Mercado was like Michael Jackson and Prince7:05: About that psychic phone line...7:50: How is Walter Mercado different from a televangelist?8:50: "You just can't swindle a swindler"10:00: Let's talk about Walter Mercado and his manager's relationship11:45: Zodiac signs12:40: "What's the difference between a Walter Mercado and a Tony Robbins?"15:00: Tim has the same religious beliefs as Walter Mercado: "No one has a monopoly on God"18:00: "He had a much better life than most people have"24:00: A Billy Dee Williams story (and here's the background on the gender-fluid story)27:00: Another excellent famous-person story30:55: "The only person I ever saw solve racism was Prince"31:50: "Netflix, again, coming through on the diversity point before it was fucking cool. ... They've been on this train."33:15: Netflix's $120 million donation to HCBUs36:00: "I have an appreciation for any man that dresses up like a wizard"Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado is now streaming on Netflix.