Doom Patrol sounds like your typical superhero show. The title is a tad reminiscent of a grown-up version of the Paw Patrol. When my boyfriend first started watching, he told me that I would love it, so despite my skepticism based on the title, I decided to give it a go. It wound up being one of the most solid decisions I’ve made in a while. Doom Patrol is batshit crazy, wonderfully strange, delightfully different, and absolutely phenomenal.
Warning: minor spoilers ahead
While every episode of the show thus far has been a remarkable experience, there is one episode that truly sets new heights in breaking the traditional superhero mold.
Last week, we sat down to watch the eighth episode in the first season entitled “Danny Patrol”. In this episode, two of the main characters, Vic and Larry, find themselves on a mission to save a teleporting, sentient, and most importantly, gender-queer street named Danny from the Bureau of Normalcy. It’s less out-there than it sounds. Danny provides a safe haven for those who are different or outside of society’s bounds of “normal”.
This rebellion and protection against normalcy is a significant theme throughout the show. Nowhere does it come through more clearly and more delightfully than in this episode. The Bureau of Normalcy is the villain in this particular episode of Doom Patrol. It’s an agency that mimics the FBI, but in true comic book fashion with some extra evil flair. The agency’s mission is to preserve the societal values of normalcy however possible. Any aberration is tracked down and neutralized.
The Bureau of Normalcy’s mission is to find and destroy Danny, but the heroes aren’t going to let that happen. Vic and Larry happen upon Danny and make their way to a drag queen cabaret on the gender-queer street, whose main star, Maura Lee Karupt, explains the situation. Both heroes are a bit mystified by the whole thing but their heroic nobleness quickly compels them to help. Well, their heroic nobleness, but also their own desire for acceptance.
The Revolutionary Piece of The Puzzle
The result is probably one of my favorite scenes in television history. After a heartwarming and fun musical scene, Vic, Larry, Maura Lee Karupt, and the rest of Danny’s inhabitants go up against the Bureau of Normalcy outside the cabaret club. The scene absolutely evokes the Stonewall Riots, but with a more definitive ending. Watching drag queens and “freaks” beat up and banish government agents sent to maintain normalcy was hilarious and deeply powerful in a way that comic book screen adaptations rarely can manage. I watched, enthralled, cheering on Danny’s crew with actual out-loud laughter.
The comic book genre is traditionally written from a very male perspective. It is only recently that the genre started seriously exploring telling stories outside of the traditionally white male sphere. Even those more progressive recent adaptations fall short of the kind of representation and radical acceptance that Doom Patrol provides.
To see two main superheroes fighting side-by-side with drag queens against the government in the streets was awe-inspiring. It’s remarkable that more people aren’t talking about this show. Doom Patrol remains outside of the mainstream when it comes to TV options, despite its constant movement into unexplored territory and experimental form of storytelling. Or maybe because of it. This new adventure into unapologetic representation may be uncomfortable for some accustomed to the way that the superhero space usually operates, but for those of us who have been waiting for more inclusive stories in this arena, Doom Patrol is like a delicious ice-cold cocktail on a hot day.