Season 2 of Amazon Prime’s The Boys has been a sh*t-stirring tornado filled with immortal Nazis and imploding politicians and laser-hot sex scenes, which is why my plan for chatting with newcomer Aya Cash (You’re The Worst) and returning player Colby Minifie was to keep things light. I wanted to lean into that superhero surrealist escapism with jokes about who would win in a fight between a speedboat and a humpback whale and ask what kind of fanfic erotica Cash’s mom might write if her character and Homelander get their happy ending. (Cash’s mom is actually an accomplished poet and novelist, so I’m guessing it’d be some high-level smut.)
What happened instead was a surprisingly in-depth chat on everything from toxic co-workers to intersectional feminism – although since this is The Boys we’re talking about, I should really stop being surprised by anything. Season 2 of the show has nailed the art of blending absurdist comedy with thought-provoking storytelling in a way that makes us both envious and terrified of creator Eric Kripke’s personal mindscape, so it’s only fair we reviewed some of the bigger storylines this time around with a sharper lens. I apologize for the lack of gill jokes in advance.
Here’s what Cash and Minifie had to say about where the show is heading, gender-swapping the main villain of Season 2, and what they’ve learned from playing in Kripke’s Suped-up sandbox.
So, Stormfront is a male character in the comics. What does swapping her gender add to the story this season?
Aya: I think for whatever reason we associate corrupt power with men, whether that’s earned or not. But we have seen women to do just as much damage and it’s often more insidious and more manipulative. So I think it’s a really interesting choice, especially dealing with the topics that we’re dealing with in terms of white supremacy that you’re using the face of… and I’m going to describe myself the way that [others have] a “young woman who’s hip to social media and memes and knows how to manipulate in a way that is obviously a very topical.” So I think that’s a really exciting way to exhibit this new form of Nazi-ism. I mean it’s the same thing. It’s the same sort of hate speech with a different language. I think having a woman do that is basically a reflection of the times as well, and the women that we’re seeing who are sort of saying, “I’m a strong woman and I believe this,” and people are listening to them. Eric Kripke has said that it’s Homelander’s worst nightmare, right? That this woman comes in and knows more than him. And Antony [Starr] would say Homelander is equal opportunity — he’s not necessarily misogynist, but I disagree with it. I think he is. Not Ant! Homelander.
Homelander is a lot of things, but mainly, he’s a giant assh*le. And Colby you deal with the brunt of that. Have you learned any tricks for managing toxic workplace environments you’d like to share?
Colby: [Laughs] Yes, I think there’s one tiny little moment in the first episode when Ashley half tries to be a little sexual with Homelander because I think she had an inkling that something was going on between him and Stillwell and that’s why the relationship was so good, and then she immediately gets shut down and she’s like, “Okay that’s not the way forward.” I don’t want me to make Ashley sound bad, but she really cares about her job and she will do anything to save her ass. So She’ll find any opportunity. She’s afraid for her life. I think what Ashley doesn’t really do yet, which I hope she will learn to… she takes everything very personally and she wants to do a good job for herself as much as for The Seven. When Homelander is hard on her, she takes it very personally. I think she just needs to remove that personal thing and just make it about the job, which is how I recommend dealing with assh*les.
I mean, it’s something that Stormfront’s definitely mastered this season. What does her rise to power within The Seven, and how she’s able to manipulate people say about our own cultural problem with misinformation right now?
Aya: Oh Lord, that’s a big question. Misinformation is [meant] to inspire paranoia, and it has won in our culture. Look, no one can become an expert on everything, right? We have to find people and sources that we trust and that has become harder and harder because of misinformation campaigns on many sides. It does damage to everyone. So whether you sort of get a kick out of someone spreading misinformation campaigns, because it aligns with your values, and you’re in on the joke — it does a disservice because nobody trusts anything anymore. And that was the goal for the people who have started manipulation of all media — to get the public not to trust anything or anyone. That’s a huge problem. So chaos is the goal and it’s much easier to incite chaos. Entropy is natural, so it’s much harder to create order. So she’s the bomb of disorder and lies that lands in The Seven and unfortunately that’s where we are in our world as well.
Stormfront is definitely a villain, but where do the people who enable her land? Should we learn something from people like Ashley who are just as happy to stay silent and let this sh*t happen?
Colby: Yeah, I think one of the most amazing things about this character is that [she’s] showing how caring so much about optics can poison good intentions. There are lines that Ashley says where she’s like, “We’re going to poll through the roof with millennials if we have this differently-abled member of The Seven who’s a person of color…,” You know, it’s just like, she cares so much about the optics in order to be popular and do well, and that can be really poisonous, if not done in the right way. I think Ashley is trying her best to do her job, and that can get in the way of actually doing what’s right.
It’s interesting that both of these flawed characters who are helping to push this really dangerous movement forward are white women, especially since race plays such an important role this season.
Aya: I think that’s a great observation. And I think that there are certain aspects that I don’t think I had even thought of when I was playing it, which shows my own blind spots in things. Someone wrote an article about white feminism and how exclusionary it’s been, and that this character coming on as a sort of white feminist and then is revealed to be a Nazi, is a commentary on that. I think that’s a really, really smart interpretation that the writers probably understood, that I didn’t. That’s an opportunity for me to think and to look at that within myself and in the ways that I’ve sort of espoused equality for women and whether that has been inclusive. So I hope that that conversation continues around things. I am not an expert in this, but I do feel like that illuminated something for me that I need to think about in terms of my own journey as a human being. That’s a good thing that the show brought and that this character has brought to me.
Well, this all ended up being much more serious than I planned. Not even one whale question. I’m truly sorry.
Aya: [laughs] We’ll DM you about the whale.
Amazon’s ‘The Boys’ streams episodes each Friday with the season finale coming on October 9.