There are two sides to Eric Kripke’s The Boys. On the one hand, the TV adaptation of one of Garth Ennis’ most beloved comics dives into the consequences of superheroes (or “supes,” as they’re known on the show) fusing together the worlds of politics and celebrity. These superpowered beings are, on the surface, flawed individuals more concerned with money, fame, and the status of their brand than saving the world. On the other hand, though, Kripke admits he’s spent a lot of time figuring out the logistics of shooting dolphins from t-shirt cannons and framing oral sex scenes that end in carnage.
So yeah, confining this show to an easily identifiable box is not easy. And that’s the point, at least for Kripke, who cut his teeth on genre faves like Supernatural before switching to the story of a rag-tag group of regular joes out to deal some street justice to the world’s god-like heroes. We chatted with Kripke about his show’s roots in the real world, his love for superheroes, and why it was only a matter of time before The Boys took them down.
The Boys is a favorite of Garth’s, so how did you convince him to give you the reigns to this one?
I took a meeting with a friend of mine who works for Neil Moritz (Preacher) just to say to him, “Hey man, f*ck you for giving Preacher to somebody else,” because I’m the world’s biggest Garth Ennis fan and he was like, “Well, we’re about to get The Boys. You want The Boys?” That was it. Then I had dinner with Garth because it was important to me to get his blessing. He asked me, “What’s your approach on this?” I think he was feeling me out a little bit. I said, ‘Well, actually, I think between Butcher and Hughie and Frenchy and Female and Hughie and Starlight, I actually think it’s a really sweet little story.” He took a beat, and he was like, “Yeah, I think so too. Why doesn’t anyone see that?”
It’s crazy to ask this but were you ever worried about this show feeling almost too realistic?
Every so often I get a note, like, “Are we in too much hot water with what we’re commenting on?” Look, you don’t want to comment on it word for word, because I think that’s boring. You don’t want to be so ripped from today’s headlines that it’s like some Menendez Brothers TV movie. No. That’s not where we want to be. But I’ll tell you, good genre is a metaphor, and what I love about this show is you can take any issue, from racism to class struggles to politics to #MeToo, and you can really talk about it. And it doesn’t feel too close because there are people with capes and lasers flying around. Going back to Rod Serling and Gene Roddenberry then moving forward to Joss Whedon, those are the people that I admire. Those are the people who use genre to comment on our world. It’s definitively a superhero show. There are superheroes flying around, but I’m using that world to really reflect on ours, and I think that’s what Garth created. I think he was amazingly prescient, almost psychic, about the world we live in now.
I’m not convinced he isn’t actually clairvoyant.
That first dinner, I asked, “What inspired you to write The Boys?” He said, “I was really inspired by what would happen when you combine the worst of politics with the worst of celebrities.” That was 2006, man. Here we are in 2019, and we have a reality star as our president, and with social media, the line between celebrity and politics and power and manipulation has never been blurrier. Those were the issues Garth was interested in 15 years ago. It’s definitely a show whose time has come.
A good thing for you and Garth, but maybe not for the rest of us.
Yeah, I don’t think that’s necessarily good for the world, that the show so accurately reflects what’s going on. Our saying in the writer’s room is, “Bad for the world, good for the show.” I’d rather the world not be like this. I’d rather the world not so accurately reflect an insane Garth Ennis comic, but here we are.