According to Jurgs

Flicks to Watch & Shows to Binge

 
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6 Reasons Amazon's The Boys
Is the Smartest Show Streaming Right Now

After 5 Emmy nominations, it's hard to deny the impact Eric Kripke's newest triumph"The Boys" has had on television in the last year. With season three currently wrapping production, here is why you should tune in to this Amazon Original when it returns this fall.  

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JURGEN SOSA

Writer & Film/TV Critic

August 17, 2021

9:12 a.m.

Toronto, CA

In 2019, Amazon took the streaming world by storm when they released their gritty action drama titled The Boys on Prime Video, whose second season made it the third watched series the week it premiered in 2020. Eric Kripke, creator of Supernatural and genre visionary, along with his talented team of writers, have sculpted a hair-raisingly suspenseful satire that expertly juggles themes of power, supremacy, conspiracy and redemption.

 

Famous and idolized by the public,The Boys is set in a world where superheroes exist as A-List celebrities and are owned by a powerful corporation called Vought International, who ensures each of their heroes—or assets—are always making them millions. Behind their heroic personas and super-identities, the members of The Seven (who are a daring parody of The Justice League) are actually deeply corrupted and far from what their blockbuster movies market them to be. Through out both seasons, the audience follows two opposing groups of characters juxtaposed into a quickly-paced thought provoking story; one where The Seven lives lavishly in power while The Boys live in filth underground, plotting to topple their dynasty. The Boys are led by the vivacious and smug Billy Butcher, played by Karl Urban, while The Seven is lead by a mentally unstable, erratic, pathologically evil version of Superman: Homelander, played by Antony Starr.

 

The story intimately follows the newest members of the opposing groups: Hugh Campbell, played by Jack Quaid, who meets Butcher after his girlfriend is murdered by one the of The Seven (in an incredibly gory fashion) and Annie January, played by Erin Moriarty, a young girl whose recent addition to the super team forces her to face the wicked truth about the heroes she’s looked up to her whole life. 

#1: THE SATIRE

The first reason this series is the smartest and freshest show streaming right now has to do with not only the story it tells, but the way it’s told. For those who don’t know, satire can be defined as “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices.” In this case, there’s a whole lot of vices to go around.

 

Popular satirical shows in recent years includeThe Office, American Vandal, Scream Queens and Succession. But in a category defined by ironic storytelling,The Boys tops them all. This series uses dark humour, irony and a sardonic story of superheroes to cynically mask an urgent political commentary about our current society. Due to the way Vought presents their heroes despite who they really are, while playing off the superficial pillars of image, reputation and praise that the company needs in order to survive, it's clear that Vought represents many corporations of the world who will do anything to keep their status and power.  

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Showrunner Eric Kripke discussed the timeliness of this series and how the show is viewed as "a commentary on the intersection of capitalism and unchecked, authoritarian power." We learn the intricate systems of this dark, vain world painted over by colourful magazine covers and ostentatious uniforms through the eyes of Starlight, a small town girl new to the team. Once behind the scenes, we learn that her new colleagues are far from heroes—in fact, all of them are killers who will do anything to protect their reputations and their spots in The Seven.

What this series does best is holding a mirror up to our society and asking us all: Do we like what we see?

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Starlight, played by Erin Moriarty, at The Seven's Headquarters within Vought Tower

THIS IS YOUR SPOILER WARNING!

DOES IT SOUND LIKE YOU COULD BE INTO THIS SHOW? STREAM IT NOW ON AMAZON PRIME.

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#2: THE ANTI HERO

The Boys stands apart from other shows on Prime and Netflix for many reasons, including their ambitious quota of exploding heads per episode, but mainly because the protagonist we champion through out the story is a selfish, detached, grimy low life named William Butcher who we can’t help but love despite the awful things he does.

 

Karl Urban does an exceptional job playing this character—Butcher is a certified scene stealer. He plows through the show with a foul mouth and a faithless attitude, his rage fuelled by the motivation to avenge his wife... who was raped and killed by The Seven's sadistic leader, Homelander. This tragedy lays the foundation for his hatred of "Supes".

 

Besides being the funniest character amongst a hilarious ensemble, the most entertaining facet of Butcher's identity has to be his boldness; his ability to stand as a worthy adversary against "the world's greatest superhero" when nobody else can. It's hard not to root for him once you see his story unravel and fully understand what he's fighting for. Butcher's an absolute savage and a fan favourite. You're guaranteed to laugh every time he appears on screen. 

To give you an idea of the Butcher-banter you'll encounter in this show, here's a clip of Butcher convincing Hughie to do something illegal (as usual):

Billy Butcher, played by Karl Urban, in The Boys

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Billy Butcher in S1E5 "Good for the Soul"

#3: THE FEMALES

It’s impossible to write a political show revolving around current issues without addressing the male gaze and female misrepresentations. Although The Boys is among many new shows who accurately represent women as multi-faceted humans that serve a purpose to the story greater than pushing along a male-driven narrative, this series takes us a step further due to the importance Kripke places on character. Queen Maeve herself says it best: the most fascinating part about superheroes aren’t their powers… what fascinates us are their weakness. It’s what every one of their adversaries, including the Boys, are dying to know—how can they destroy somebody who is indestructible? 

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Queen Maeve, played by Dominique McElligott, in the Season 1 Premiere"The Name of the Game"

That's what makes for a great story. These women each come from drastically different origins and none of their big problems are that they're too weak. If an entire series centred around a woman who couldn't be phased, it'd be pretty boring. And if an entire series centred around a woman who broke down crying every minute, it'd be The Vampire Diaries. The point is, the formula falls somewhere perfectly in between... and this show's got it.

Television needs more diversity in the way it portrays women and The Boys is doing everything it can to solidify its place as a trailblazer for representation on screen, even despite the fact that it's literally called "The Boys". The female characters are everything but simple, from a Japanese super soldier to a Nazi white supremacist—these girls are layered. And all of them can kick your ass.

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Aya Cash as Stormfront in The Boys

One of the main characters is Starlight, who joins The Seven for all the right reasons, but finds out she's the only one interested in doing the right thing. Her story follows how she fights through and overcomes the harsh reality a lot of young women in the entertainment industry face when given global fame so suddenly, from encounters with sexual assault to major body image issues.

Here's an eerie example of how young women under corporate contracts are manipulated into doing things they aren't comfortable with, wrapped up in a farcical "superhero" industry:

#4: THE ACTION

If you're a fan of the superhero genre, it's probably because regular action just doesn't cut it for you anymore. And who can blame you? After seeing how the Russo Brothers shook up the world with their vigilant attention to combat and choreography, the standard for superhero action sequences instantly rose to new heights.

 

Pulling off big screen action on a television budget is no easy task (we've all seen many shows we couldn't take seriously because of corny action) but it's necessary when shooting a series about people with superpowers. One of the best parts about superheroes is watching them fight each other, whether it's hand to hand or by using their powers.

 

Either way, most of The Seven are impervious and are therefore not at all shy about physically confronting other characters since they can't be killed and are never held accountable for their actions.

Season 2 brings you deeper into the capabilities of each Supe, including The Deep and Black Noir. The heart of this series is how The Boys, a group of human vigilantes, constantly fight superheroes with only their hands and their wit.

The powers some of the characters have make for out-of-the-box sequences that keep the action fresh and suspenseful, including The Boys taking on humpback whale and a ten foot d*ck.

#5: THE GASLIGHTING

Although the world of The Boys is full of bad guys who can use their laser vision to cut you in half or punch through your chest and pull out your ribcage, the scariest and most sinister villain of the entire series is Vought itself. And in Season 1, Vought takes human form in Madelyn Stilwell.

 

In the comics written by Garth Ennis that inspired this series, James Stilwell was Vought CEO Stan Edgar’s second in command. In Amazon’s version of the story, Stilwell is a stoic corporate figurehead draped in opulence who always wears a smile and speaks only through careful, legal jargon. She shares a Freudian-like relationship with Homelander, who grew up without a mother and looks to Madelyn to fill the maternal void in his life. Not only is she in control of all the Vought heroes, but this also makes her the only one who can control their strongest Supe. 

It seems every time Stilwell is on screen, she wears a mask of her own. She only ever breaks her corporate facade twice through out the whole series, and even those moments are brief and far in between. Elisabeth Shue delivers a poised and calculated performance that, much like Butcher, gives her a confidence and cadence that allows her to rival the most powerful of Supes and businessmen. 

Although Madelyn's tyranny meets a scorching end thanks to Homelander's sociopathic need to prove he has no weaknesses, the gaslighting doesn't stop here. To give you a taste of the sort of legacy Madelyn left behind, here is Stormfront taking up the mantle:

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Madelyn Stilwell, played by Elisabeth Shue, in The Boys

#6: THE STAKES

In order to craft a thrilling series you need a careful set of ingredients, otherwise you risk allowing your audience to feel comfortable. The moment you let viewers lose the sense of urgency is the moment you risk dismantling the thrills of the story you're telling. Having a man who can kill you in less than a second without even blinking walking around your workplace is enough to feel uneasy... now add six more and you'll know what it's like to work a day at Vought. 

Homelander is anything but merciful. His abilities reach no limits and he has no weaknesses, besides his constant need to be loved by the public and viewed as a hero. He is so twisted and cruel that even being in the same room as him would be terrifying. 

 

He intimidates and manipulates everybody in the series, threatening to kill them and knowing that Vought will mop over the carnage, write a cheque to cover it up and never address it again. Exhibit A:

Through out the series, it feels as though The Boys are always moments away from being caught. The missions they pull are risky, dangerous and anything but boring. With Homelander and the other Supes always hot on their tale, The Boys never gets to a point where it allows you feel comfortable. Season 3 is currently in production and thanks to the Easter eggs Eric Kripke feeds us on Twitter, we clearly have a lot to look forward to.

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Homelander, played by Antony Starr, in the Season 2 Finale 

PORTFOLIO

© 2020 Jurgen Sosa

All rights reserved. The written works displayed on this website or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the permission of the creator. 

Teasers

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MOVIES TO DRINK TO 

MOVIES TO DRINK TO is a set of drinking games based around twelve different films. Use this collection to enjoy watching or rewatching some of my favourite movies while making some drinks and having some fun!

 

 Note: Each game is different. Although some require multiple players or teams, the bottom half of every playcard can be used with any number of players. 

INSTRUCTIONS:

Here are some words and phrases you need to know in order to play:

1.  PLAYCARD refers to the movie game card 

2. DRINKING COMMANDS refer to the rules (drink once when, take a shot when, etc.)

3. DEDICATING refers to the act of making another player drink

4. THE ROOM refers to the players of the game as a whole

DISCLAIMER:

The legal drinking age in Ontario is 19. Only use alcohol with these games if you are old enough to do so. Please enjoy responsibly.  

*I do not own these photos. I do not own any rights to these movies. All rights remain reserved by owners. Credits to creators.*

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What the Thunderstorm in Episode Two of HBO's "Euphoria" Really Symbolized

Written by Jurgen Sosa

           I should start by saying that not only is Sam Levinson (the writer and creator of Euphoria) a GENIUS, but that the second episode of the HBO teen-oriented drama is an absolute masterpiece. From the writing, to the cinematography, to the acting… this is an effortless 10 out of 10. Levinson and Zendaya together are a powerful force of nature and creative expression evident throughout various moments this season but especially during the "Fly Me to the Moon" sequence in this episode. This scene delivers a masterful juxtaposition that relays the tribulations of a loved one struggling with bipolar disorder and a severe drug addiction. The pair simultaneously show us the good moments inter-spliced with the bad and we see firsthand what those around Rue have been subject to throughout her struggle with addiction. We see that even in the brightest and loveliest of moments, the darkness in Rue is impatiently waiting for a chance to show itself.

           If you haven’t watched Euphoria, you can stream the first season on Crave. Watch the trailer here:

    Each episode centres around a new character in the ensemble that drives the plot forward, a la Norwegian show SKAM. This episode revolves around Nate Jacobs—the series antagonist—and is entitled “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy” to symbolize that although Nate’s biggest fear in life is becoming his father... he actually is just like him. A thunderstorm rages through town and the audience watches as each character is presented with their own critical crossroad throughout the episode. The thunderstorm represents the temptation each of them feel that coaxes them down a darker path; one of self destruction, as opposed to one of self discovery and reinvention. The rain is meant to symbolize a metamorphosis or coming clean—thank you Hilary Duff!—and each teenager faces the opportunity to change into the person they ache to be, but instead continue down a same treacherous path that will eventually lead them to their individual downfalls. 

           Rue, played by rising star Zendaya, is fresh out of rehab after overdosing a few months prior to the start of the events we see in the pilot. At the beginning of this episode, Rue mentions that when she gets really high, she feels psychic. During the storm, she shows up to Fez's house unannounced and because of her obsession and lust for drugs, comes face to face with her biggest temptation: fentanyl. Mouse, Fez's supplier, persuades her to take it. The drug could likely kill her, but could also gift her the euphoria she seeks through drugs. Higher than she's ever been, she tells Fez that she's never been happier. In her eyes, we can see fireworks: the same fireworks she watches at the carnival with Jules in "Shook Ones Pt. II" pictured below. This foreshadows how Jules will become her newest source of euphoria and the sustenance Rue needs... and that a withdrawal from Jules would lead to Rue’s biggest spiral yet, which we witness in the finale after Jules pulls off on the train without her. 

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Zendaya & Hunter Schafer, Euphoria (2019) 

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Zendaya & Hunter Schafer, Euphoria (2019) 

        Fez, her tortured drug dealer who constantly battles with the morality of his business with Rue, sits with her in his living room after Mouse leaves. Here, cinematographer Marcell Rev delivers a powerful shot of him from behind as he looks on over his living room, which we then understand is his miniature kingdom. Rain patters against the windowpane, using pathetic fallacy to show us that he has the choice to stop dealing to people like Rue, whose lives are falling apart due to addiction, but continues to.

        The next character who faces an opportunity to evolve is Kat, whose sex tape is leaked to the student body after she finally gives up her virginity to take control of her own body and narrative… and now she’d lost it all over again. Instead of understanding that any true freedom would come from relinquishing this control, she chooses to capitalize off of it by creating a Pornhub account to start camming for rich men who make her feel powerful. This is what leads her to a terrifying encounter with a mysterious payer on webcam that will most likely endanger her in the upcoming season. 

         Cassie is a beautiful young girl with a salacious reputation who lays in bed at night while texting her new boyfriend Christopher Mackay, who’d previously scolded her for being too sexual but is now begging her for naked photos—classic. Already having a reputation for participating in videos and photos of this sexual nature in the past, she’s hesitant and clearly unwilling. It's clear to us that she is not that person. But Mackay pressures her to, like many of the guys she’d been with before, and because she wants nothing more than to just be truly desired and wanted by somebody, she complies. She poses naked and thunder rumbles as the camera flashes go off. 

        Finally... Nate Jacobs—this episode's subject—breaks into Tyler’s apartment to beat him in order to someway express years of bottled anger and ferocity. In this episode, we witness the first real misuse of his privilege and power that he will soon wield to torment the other characters in the series, specifically Jules. Before Nate's altercation with Tyler, he has countless opportunities to walk away. But, like his father, the feeling of dominance fuels and excites him, which is what makes this scene so uncomfortable to watch. Nate enjoys the feeling of hurting Tyler and of taking out the anger he feels towards himself on somebody else. As he beats Tyler, the thunder rumbles relentlessly.

         Nate looks at himself in Tyler's mirror as he mounts him, somehow pleased but also disappointed. This foreshadows the explosive scene in the season finale where Nate's father mounts him similarly during their fight and Nate looks at himself in the mirror... crying, helpless and afraid—the roles reversed. It’s clear that his father’s influence over him, alluded to in another episode, is too powerful. Nate will always choose to avoid the confusion revolving around his sexuality, his feelings for Jules and the relationship with his father when presented the opportunity to project it instead. In this case, he uses protecting Maddy as an excuse to hurt Tyler, when the person Nate is truly angry at is himself.

           In an interview with Men's Health, actor Jacob Elordi had this to say about the scene: 

 

                "It’s one of the main parts where you get to see his psychopathic nature without him actually being

                deeply upset, I suppose," he said. "He’s relishing in the moment and the success of what he’s done 

                so it was actually, surprisingly, one of the easiest scenes to fall into. With Tyler, I think it was the kind

               of thing where he isn’t intimidated or frightened by him, he’s just like a chess piece that has to be moved,"

                                                                                                                       (Jacob Elordi via Evan Romano, Men's Health, 2019)  

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Jacob Elordi as Nate Jacobs,  Euphoria (2019) 

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Jacob Elordi as Nate Jacobs,  Euphoria (2019) 

        The episode ends with each character falling into their same old ways even when given the chance to change. These decisions lead to the events that play out through the rest of the season and their interweaving arcs. This form of exposition is masterfully written, including elements of foreboding and symbolism that Sam Levinson and HBO wield like an unforgiving sword that cuts through the facades and dreams of each character ruefully and exposes them for who they really are, as opposed to the people they like to think they could be. 

For Evan Ramon's Men's Health Interview with Jacob Elordi, Click Here: 

https://www.menshealth.com/entertainment/a28159156/euphoria-jacob-elordi-lukas-gage-violent-attack/