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The Boys creator and executive producer Eric Kripke sits at his desk in Los Angeles and he's, to be frank, perplexed. Ding after ding after ding can be heard on his phone and computer after, just hours earlier, the Television Academy announced his superhero satire for Amazon Prime Video received five nominations, including one for Outstanding Drama Series. He has just one question at this point: "What are the Emmy voters thinking?"
It's a solid question, but one with an easy answer. Even though his show features characters like Love Sausage with a certain superhuman appendage and an evil Superman figure who enjoys snacking on breast milk, the drama's premise of superheroes-gone-bad is really about us — specifically, our celebrity-obsessed culture, corrupt politics, and the toxic meeting ground between both. Still, Kripke's mind goes to the former.
"It hasn't sunk in at all. It's just totally insane," he says over Zoom. "They voted for exploding whales and 10-foot penises and exploding heads. Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful. But what are the Emmy voters thinking?"
Kripke, who's in the middle of production of season 3, says he was just going about his day when the congratulations started pouring in. And, boy, did they ever. Andie Green, an executive at Amazon, was the first to send a note. This was followed by an "Ahhhhhh!" from Amazon Studios' head of casting Donna Rosenstein. Now, by Kripke's estimates, he probably has "hundreds of emails" with similar sentiments.
"We're not usually the type of show that gets that kind of recognition," he says. "We don't take it for granted. It's just really, really thrilling."
The Boys, an adaptation of the highly NSFW comics from writer Garth Ennis and artist Darick Robertson, stars a hefty cast about the world's premiere team of corporate-sponsored superheroes who abuse their powers behind closed doors (and sometimes in front of them) and the blue-collar gang that fight to keep them in check. If that means sticking a pipe bomb up a supe's rear, so be it.
Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Laz Alonso, Karen Fukuhara, Tomer Capon, and Erin Moriarty (we can include Starlight now) rep The Boys (a.k.a. the good guys), while Antony Starr, Dominique McElligott, Jessie T. Usher, Nathan Mitchell, Chace Crawford, and Aya Cash rep those supes we were talking about.
They did something right because after a buzzed-about season 1 debut in 2019, season 2, which shifted to a weekly release after dropping the first few episodes on Amazon in 2020, became the streamer's most-watched global debut of any Amazon Original at the time. The success spawned a spin-off series about a Hunger Games-esque college for young supes.
"I think what streaming has allowed, plus frankly a year where there weren't that many Hollywood movies, there's an openness to the sci-fi/fantasy genre than there has been," Kripke muses of The Boys' success. "If you look at who else is nominated [for Emmys], The Mandalorian is cleaning up and Umbrella Academy's there and Lovecraft Country. Maybe people are starting to realize collectively that there's more to it than just what's on the surface. I think it's beyond superhero stuff. Be it horror or science-fiction or superheroes, I think everyone is just doing such extraordinary work that it's finally becoming noticed."
Among the Emmy nominations are ones for Christopher Lennertz and Michael Saltzman for the music and lyrics to the season 2 premiere song "Never Truly Vanish," sung by Moriarty's Starlight. Plus, one for the VFX team and a couple for the season 2 finale, including for sound mix and writing, and VFX. It's this kind of recognition that's keeping the team going as they continue to develop more of the show.
"My production is in, like, month 5 of 7 [for season 3] and it's exactly the point where they all want to kill themselves. They're just exhausted and so brutalized," Kripke mentions. "And so, this is a really great shot for everybody."