Coming off another excellent season of The Boys, what stuck to me most of all this season was just how remarkable the acting has been. The acting all across the board this season has been superb. Few people have as much fun acting as Karl Urban does. Jack Quaid has done some real underrated comedic work this season. Erin Moriarty managed to make Starlight’s altruism believable, valid and genuinely inspiring. Everybody just knows exactly what they need to bring to a scene. Laz Alonso is the emotional stabilizer in such a genuine way. The new additions are spot on as well. Paul Reiser as “The Legend” is a wonderful bit of stunt casting, and Jensen Ackles is crushing it as this universe’s fucked answer to Captain America. But above all these wonderful performances, is Antony Starr’s Homelander, the show’s villain above all villains. This show wouldn’t work at all without his performance.
The evolution of The Boys having a fun first season into being one of the best shows on television now is pretty stunning to consider. It strikes a nice balance where if you love superhero stuff, it does all that really well, but if you’re sick of superhero culture, it is sick of it just as much as you are. It is by no means subtle about the allegory and critiques they’re making, but it means every word of it. It is genuine spite for everything about modern American culture. It’s now one of the most must-watch, entertaining and truly unpredictable shows on right now. Key to this has been the performance from Antony Starr of the central villain of the show, Homelander.
Not to be a hipster, but I’ve long known Starr was capable of playing a terrific sociopath. I’m talking about an incredible little show called Banshee. That show still has the best hand-to-hand fight scenes I’ve seen on television, and Starr’s portrayal of a criminal playing sheriff while pulling off jobs is just fantastic. I’ve been in on the guy since then, but I still didn’t realize Starr could be this good. Starr has played two iconic and charming sociopaths that are far from the same kind of sociopath. That’s not an easy thing to do.
To watch The Boys each week is to know that anything is possible when Starr is on camera. You just feel like anything is possible when he’s on scene, you have no clue what’s gonna happen, only that anything can. He’s written to where there’s no such thing as going too big in a scene. I think about him saying “Is your idiot brain getting fucked by stupid?” every day. It’s one of the finest line readings this year. His ability to make a face where you can tell he’s irritated by the mere existence of other humans is stuff you just can’t teach.
Starr has really gotten to dig in deep with the character this season, approximating for the most human and vulnerable scenes for Homelander. The scenes in the finale of him getting emotional with Soldier Boy about his desire to be a family, and when he forgives Ryan earlier in the episode – Starr is so good you almost start to feel bad for Homelander. Nobody else could have pulled off that absurd, loud range like Starr does. It’s one of the best performances on television right now, and it’s time we acknowledge that.