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The Boys' TCA panel promises 'one of the most current shows on TV'

By Tara Bennett & Brian Silliman

If Preacher doesn't fulfill your need to see all things Garth Ennis on television, Amazon Prime is here for you. One of their upcoming new series is based on The Boys, written by Ennis with art by Darick Robertson. It was originally published by Wildstorm and Dynamite from 2006-2012, and now it's coming to the world of streaming television. 

According to Amazon, who held TCA panels a plenty today, the show is a "fun and irreverent take on what happens when superheroes — who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as gods – abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good."

The story will begin when Hughie (Jack Quaid) suffers "a devastating loss at the hands of a reckless Supe." His grief will turn to anger when he realizes that "there is no legal recourse for victims of collateral superhero damage." Hughie will soon meet the mysterious Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), who recruits him into getting some "justice against the Supes — who are not exactly what they seem." 

The cast and crew of the new series held their panel at the 2019 TCAs today, and SYFY WIRE was there to witness all of the action. The panel included executive producers Eric Kripke, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg, as well as castmembers Antony Starr (Homelander), Erin Moriarty (Starlight), Jesse Usher (A-Train), Karen Fukuhara (The Female), Jack Quaid (Hughie), Chace Crawford (The Deep), and Laz Alonso (Mother’s Milk). Here's what we learned...

On being shocking, but character based:  

"Yes, the comic book is incendiary and has a ton of shocking s**t," Kripke said. "There are things we would not do in the show, but it's an irreverent and funny show. You have to make it about the characters and flesh out the characters and what it means to be human. If you take it seriously, the irreverence isn’t about shock value." 

In terms of basing it in character, this would certainly seem to be true of Hughie and his journey. "He changes a lot over the course of the season... a naive kid working in an electronics store gets thrust into a superhero world," said Quaid said of Hughie. "A traumatic event thrusts him into it. It’s been a fun journey." 

This also seems to be the case with Urban's character of Billy Butcher. "Karl brings gravitas and charisma to Butcher," said Kripke. "He acts the way he does because he’s very wounded. We have to show the Bogart inside of him so he’s not just a sociopath." 

On dealing with real-world ugly stuff: 

The original book does not shy away from depicting a real world in turmoil, and the same will be true of the show. Kripke said that they didn't want to "shy away from the hard and ugly stuff happening in our world," noting that they "need to talk about it and get it out of the shadows." If they don't treat it like it's real, then "what are the ramifications?" he added. "The people who do bad s**t in this world do not get away from it. We said we have to show some courage and talk about it."

On the original Garth Ennis comics: 

"It was truly written for adults and with a weird reverence we had never seen," said Goldberg. "Also the story structure of his comics is great." Rogen added that they grew up reading Preacher, and that "his tone as very much influenced us. We were able to get Eric on board and turn it into a TV show."

Fukuhara said that The Female's backstory will be different on the show than it was from the comic, and that she will appear in the series starting in Episode 4. "It’s her journey to find agency, she’s a mute character but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a voice."

Starr then noted that Homelander (a member of the top Supe group "The Seven") was "one of the most misunderstood characters," adding, "He’s protective and loyal. It’s like Superman on crack. It was interesting not to make it too large and stereotypical... it would be easy to make him a stock bad guy, but Eric was receptive to all of my bulls**t ideas and we went down the rabbit hole. Everything comes in context." 

Is television a better place for comic adaptations than film? 

"You have more time to delve deeper," Goldberg said. Rogen followed with, "It’s mostly the containment of the story. You would read the movie script for Preacher but it’s over just as you get started. Expansive stories lend themselves to TV." Goldberg also points out that this particular tale "has like 16 leads," and that you can't really do that in film. 

On sticking a pin in the inflated myth of superheroes: 

"There’s a preponderance of super hero s**t out there," Kripke said, "a vastly inflated myth now, and it’s screaming out for someone to stick a pin in it. It's so much fun to deconstruct that... it's irreverent and funny and has heart, but says superheroes are a**holes and good guys are humans, and also explores what happens to the most powerful person on Earth." He adds, "Or how stressful to be world’s fastest man? Or to only be able to talk to fish? I think playing with that is something people will enjoy." 

Moriarty addressed that further, saying, "The most relatable thing to me is that we often like to think when we attain goals, we’ll be the happiest person on Earth. When we strive for such external things based on others, we’re always humbled and proven wrong." 

Kripke summed things up by going back to Ennis, saying that, "He said he was inspired by combining the worst of politics with the worst of celebrity. Now the world has caught up to that in a way, that in the writer’s room the expression is 'bad for the world, good for the show.' It feels like it’s dead center now. Everyone on the show are news junkies and making this superhero show — and making one of the most current shows on TV." 

The Boys will premiere on Amazon Prime in 2019.