Amazon’s The Boys just concluded a wild second season of exploding heads, Neo-Nazism, Trump administration satire and political allegory. It’s been eight episodes of deceptively sharp social commentary couched in a B-movie, seedy superhero universe that imagines what our world would look like if heroes existed amongst us. The answer: they’d be products of corporate America, narcissists with no regard for the individual American citizen, who keep the country safe for their own fame at best, and at worst, pose as much of a threat as the bad guys they do destructive battle with.
The series, developed by Eric Kripke from the comic book by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, ramped those themes up considerably in season two with the addition of Stormfront, played by Aya Cash, who joins The Seven—the Justice League-esque collection of heroes who operate at the behest of their corporate benefactor, Vought International. Whereas the series’ main villain, Seven leader Homelander (a singularly great Antony Starr) is a homicidal loose cannon prioritizing his own public image and agenda above the safety of others, Stormfront reveals herself to be an even more insidious and dangerous enemy when the titular Boys—the anti-“supe” faction of ragtag heroes who battle Vought—learn she’s actually a 100 year-old Nazi.
It turns out that Stormfront’s husband started Vought and created superheroes as a Hitler-esque Final Solution; she has now resurfaced to finish the job with 21st century tools. In one particularly bracing sequence, an opening montage shows a man who ingests Stormfront’s coded rhetoric and xenophobia on a daily basis murder a store clerk he suspects might be a foreign “super terrorist.”
Cash never let us see her sweat: She plays Stormfront with a delicate balance of genuine unpredictability, deliciously acerbic energy and unsettling conviction. Avid TV viewers know playing a quick-witted smartass who can give as good as she gets is nothing new for the actress, who put up a similar, Emmy-worthy performance for five years on FXX’s underrated, bitingly acidic romcom You’re the Worst. But while that show was a critical darling, The Boys is a bonafide hit, making this Cash’s biggest role to date. In the wake of the finale, GQ caught up with Cash to talk about white feminism, bringing awareness through escapism, and more.
Mild spoilers for The Boys season 2 follow.
Going into the season, I was expecting you to be evil because that’s just the nature of being cast as a superhero on this show. But I wasn’t expecting a full-on Nazi?
The name is the one giveaway. I think if you actually know what Stormfront is, then it’s kind of a glaringly obvious thing, but if you’re not familiar, I think it was a real surprise. It was like the first contemporary Nazi website. [Cash’s You’re the Worst co-lead] Chris Geere just tagged me in something since Stormfront is trending on Twitter and my reaction was, Oh God, is it about the election? Or is it about the show? [laughs]
It’s wild to even have to ask that!
Well it’s funny because on Twitter sometimes the You’re the Worst hashtag would be used in relation to politics and now, you know, confusion either way.
Is Stormfront’s true nature what drew you to the role?
I knew she was this sort of contemporary, social media savvy racist. I didn’t necessarily know that she was an actual Nazi because I hadn’t read the comic books yet. And you know, I knew the Stormfront reference, but I also thought it could have been an accident. She does shoot [bolts] out of her hands. But nothing is really an accident on The Boys, which is what I’ve come to discover. And even if it is an accident, it’s probably going to be used intentionally. Like the flies in season one, I think that they’re gonna figure out a way to [acknowledge that]. That’s funny to talk about now because of Pence.