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"

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Do the Right Thing

Season 1, Ep. 67
Today’s episode revisits the 1989 classic that put Spike Lee on the map, Do the Right Thing. Over 30 years later, the film’s raw depiction of racial relations in Bedstuy remains controversial - every group feels aggrieved, lashing out with both words and actions. By the time the film is over, one could make a strong case that no one did the right thing. The bubbling tension under the surface during the hottest day of the summer explodes into a riot that feels unavoidable once 911 is dialed.Lee refused the urge to give the audience simple good versus bad character depictions. Singular characters act on their righteous impulses but are often guided by misplaced, unspoken misunderstandings. By the time Mookie throws the trash can through Sal’s pizzeria, his actions are about more than simply the death of Radio Rahim. The audience is given several reasons Mookie could be at the end of his rope with Sal and his family from Pino’s liberal use of the n-word to Sal’s supposed flirtation with his sister - Mookie’s frustration is macro and micro, legitimate and illegitimate.Although Do the Right Thing takes place almost entirely on one neighborhood block in 1989, it represented situations happening nationwide. Gentrifying neighbors and passersbys still have the same tense interactions with the black and brown youth today.. No wonder the film continues to resonate in the summer of 2020 as Black Lives Matter protests continue.Do the Right Thing is available for rent today on several streaming platforms.Episode Breakdown0:48 - Where did ‘Sweet Dick Willy’ get his name from?1:50 - Themes echoing in the modern day5:05 - Is Mookie a passive character?11:36 - Does anyone do the right thing?16:50 - Radio Rahim’s intimidating presence and killing21:00 - Real life police brutality comparisons23:15 - The shock of police brutality, camera phones, and Black Lives Matter31:40 - Mookie’s future and parenting in the film35:50 - Closing thoughts