Please Watch Doom Patrol. Please. Just Watch It.

Leigh Klein ‘26 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

I don’t want to watch a speedster run through a person and make them explode. That’s something that’s true about me. Maybe it’s something I should work on, but it’s true nonetheless. You can imagine how frustrating I find it when people find out I like superheroes and immediately recommend Amazon Prime’s The Boys. I have nothing against people who enjoy that show, to be clear. Some of my best friends are The Boys fans. I still won’t be tuning in.

“But, Leigh,” the strawmen say to me, “that’s one of the best superhero shows on TV right now! You love superheroes!” I have to tell the strawmen, yes, I do love superheroes. I just don’t think that show does.

I was tricked into caring about superhero media, like most kids, by cartoons. Wolverine and the X-Men was formative at a young age. Across all my favorite shows, I was obviously drawn to characters with interesting power sets — Green Lantern, Vixen, and the incomparable Emma Frost — but I didn’t relate to them, really. I gravitated most toward the hero on a million child-size backpacks: Superman.

In my eight-year-old head, the crux of Superman was that he really just wanted to be Clark Kent. He tried so hard and for so long to be normal, and he couldn’t. The poor guy rips doors off their hinges. Despite how badly he wants to be a regular man in regular shirts, he has these abilities, and he feels like he has to help people. 

I would stand on the playground of my elementary school screaming at the top of my little lungs, “Superman is not boring! Superman is the reason people like superheroes!” To me, he embodied everything good about the genre. I thought—and still think—it took a special kind of individual to use their powers for good. 

So, you start to see why the new cynical takes on superheroes irk me. Maybe the first time, “What if Superman was evil?” had a novelty. It was a fun thought exercise, just something to think about. We’ve gone well past the point of novelty and we’ve hit oversaturation. It feels like most superhero properties feel the need to do this arc, and it also feels like they think it makes them smart or nuanced. It doesn’t make them either of those things. It makes them bleak, and kind of unoriginal.

You’ll notice I specified most superhero properties. Please allow me to tell you about the greatest show of all time: Doom Patrol, adapted from the comic series of the same name. To borrow an overused quote, this show has everything:

  • Brendan Fraser voicing a human brain in a robot body
  • A former Hollywood starlet turned mediocre superhero
  • A sequence where a gay Air Force test pilot and Cyborg from the Teen Titans enter a drag club, set to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Cut to the Feeling”
  • A hundred-year-old child with imaginary friends and magical powers 
  • A second, unrelated, human brain in a robot body
  • And more!

Something I often hear about shows like The Boys is how wacky and outside-the-box they are. “Have you ever seen anything like this? Isn’t this crazy?” You don’t even know what they’re doing on Doom Patrol. I’m sure this means nothing if you don’t care about comic books — which is good, you shouldn’t, I wish I didn’t — but the Doom Patrol series is adapted from Grant Morrison’s run of the comic book. It’s nuts. There’s a sentient nonbinary street named Danny. There’s a supernatural crisis management team called the SeX-Men, and a saxophone riff plays every time they say their team name. You don’t even know. 

“Leigh,” the strawmen pester me again, “Doom Patrol is just another Berlanti show, watch the CW instead.” To that, I say, ew, what? No. I did my time. The strawmen have a point here, the DC shows on the CW — The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Batwoman, etc — definitely had a lighter tone that I really enjoyed. But I’m not exactly talking about tone when I complain about superhero cynicism.

Nobody on Doom Patrol is ever having any fun. It’s not a light show at all. Even the title sequence is moody. The characters are violent, angry, foul-mouthed, and, like, clinically depressed, probably. They are absolutely miserable, trapped in their enormous house together and trapped in this genre — and they still try.

Doom Patrol actually gets at the reason I like superheroes, because they’re deeply terrible at being superheroes! They mess everything up all the time and actively make most situations worse. But they get back in their little bus — they have a bus, also — and they make another attempt at saving the world. They have these abilities and they feel like they have to help people.

After getting its fourth season split in half, it was announced that this would be their last. The final episodes of Doom Patrol are now premiering weekly until November 9, 2023, on Max. Please watch them. Please. I felt the full range of human emotions watching the team get stuck in individual nightmare scenarios, and then Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana” started playing — you can have that experience, too. Just watch Doom Patrol.

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