Like “The Boys,” this show is fascinated with the many unexpected ways having powers can mess up your sex life, or all the other ways it would complicate a person’s day-to-day activities. Some of the best moments are when “Gen V” embraces the college part of its premise; how does the well-known problem of sexual violence on college campuses play out when the students in question have superpowers? “Gen V” has an answer for that. What do frat parties look like in a school for supes? “Gen V” has an answer for that.
The problem is that for as fun as the college elements are in this show, the story isn’t always that interested in them. In the second episode particularly, the story nearly abandons its focus on school in exchange for more satire of corporate PR, which is already well-trodden ground for the franchise. Usually, I don’t complain when young adult dramas don’t focus on the classroom — I don’t think anyone cares what the “Euphoria” teens get up to in math class — but the little glimpses into Godolkin University’s curriculum are fascinating, and it’s a shame the show doesn’t offer much more of it beyond a few brief scenes and one major storyline in the fourth episode.
The other big similarity with “The Boys,” and not a good one, is the bluntness of its writing. The social commentary is smart, sure, but it’s also laid on so thick that you can’t possibly miss it. And while our main cast is interesting, with plenty of complex motives and strongly developed backstories, “Gen V” shares its parent show’s habit of over-explaining their emotions. Characters will often have straightforward conversations discussing the themes of the show, telling each other pretty much exactly what their character arcs are and what stage of the arc they’re in. The lack of subtlety isn’t new for the franchise, nor is it a dealbreaker for “Gen V,” but after the aggressively straight-forward satire of “The Boys” season 3, it’s disappointing that the spinoff didn’t dial it back a little.
On the bright side, “Gen V” also takes the approach of throwing us into a dark, hopeless, cynical world, before slowly revealing a more optimistic outlook than you might expect. The first few episodes might lean a little too hard into the gore, the edginess, and the over-the-top supe sex, but deep down the show has a tender heart; it just takes a while to find it.