The Big Picture
- Ashley Barrett, played by Colby Minifie, is a beloved character in The Boys despite having zero superpowers.
- Ashley starts off as a nervous pushover working as an assistant, but later becomes the CEO of the company, embracing her new evil position.
- Fans sympathize with Ashley’s highly stressful situation, but also find her character intriguing and complex as she navigates the dangerous world of superheroes and power struggles.
Fans of the hit Amazon Prime Video series The Boys know that it’s the type of show that makes it hard to choose which character is their favorite compared to the rest. That’s because The Boys features one fascinating personality after another, each ranging from pure-hearted to downright diabolical. However, even with the presence of The Seven, combined with the team of “the boys” battling against their secret evil doings, there is one character that sits among the most beloved for viewers at home. And believe it or not, she possesses zero superpowers. This character is Ashley Barrett, played by the talented Colby Minifie.
Minifie didn’t come out of nowhere when she was cast as Ashley for The Boys. She had previously been featured in series such as Law and Order, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Jessica Jones. But when she was given the role of Ashley, she most likely had no idea she was stepping into the shoes of a character that would bring her the most attention of her career. Ashley is first introduced to fans as the number one assistant to Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue), who is running Vought, the huge corporation that manages/controls the superheroes that make up The Seven.
Ashley Starts off as a Train Wreck on ‘The Boys’
At first, Ashley comes across as a nervous pushover who is badly in need of a spa day. It seems that no matter what she does, whether it’s for one of the superhero employees or for her boss, it goes unnoticed or becomes irrelevant when plans change moment to moment. Of course there’s the amped-up violence occurring all around her, as well. Much like how most businesses operate, negativity runs downhill and Ashley directs most of her frustrations toward the newest member of The Seven, Starlight, a.k.a. Annie January (Erin Moriarty). Unfortunately, Ashley is let go by Vought after a superhero scandal, as someone needs to take the fall. Luckily for fans and for Minifie herself, the character would make a return in the following season.
The end of the first season concludes with the shocking scene of Homelander (Antony Starr) lasering the brains out of his boss/lover Madelyn Stillwell, providing a sudden vacancy at the top of the food chain at Vought. It isn’t until the second season begins that fans come to find out that it is actually Ashley who has been rehired to take the place of Madelyn. Her character appears to be exactly the same, although she seems excited for what seems to be the first time. Ashley appears proud of the job she has done so far, which includes introducing a new member to the elite Seven. However, her belief that she is now in control is delusional, a fact immediately proven to her by her most famous employee, Homelander.
Showing that he is never going to be told what to do or not have a say in major corporate decisions, Homelander shockingly kills Ashley’s new superhero addition to the Seven and explains what her real place in the company is. (Surely this is another one of Homelander’s least heroic moments.) Ashley goes from being confident with power to suddenly terrified, not for her job, but for her life. She now realizes that she may make decisions for the company, but when it comes to the big choices, it’s better to please Homelander, as he can murder her at any moment. If Ashley thought she was working in a highly stressful situation before, this takes her to a whole new level.
Minifie’s character still holds the same manic personality in Season 2 as she did in Season 1. Ashley spends her days working for Vought in a constant state of terror and stress. Many fans can’t help but feel sympathy for her, as she seems caught in between the job (she no doubt always wanted) and the constant threat of being permanently eliminated for making the wrong decision. Professionally, she is actually stuck between two forces that would drive anybody insane. Not only does she have to run everything by Homelander and get his approval, but on the other side, she is given orders by her own boss, Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito), who sees Homelander as simply an asset to the company and nothing more. But come Season 3, Ashley soon finds herself with more power than she’s ever had (although this power will again prove to be all smoke and mirrors).
Ashley Is Still a Train Wreck in Season 2, but a Train Wreck With Power
There are plenty of The Boys enthusiasts who, by the end of Season 2, thoroughly enjoyed Ashley as a character. But much of that attraction came from intense sympathy for the character, as she is stuck in a highly stressful situation and clearly near a nervous breakdown. This is conveyed on-screen when she begins to pull out clumps of hair from her own head, clearly indicating how physically affected she’s been, in addition to experiencing the mental tug-of-war she endures every day. However, Ashley takes a major turn in Season 3, much to the delight of viewers at home.
When fans see Ashley again in Season 3, she shockingly has not only resigned herself to her role in the company but has even embraced it. She has morphed into what could only be described as a version of her former boss Madelyn, who was at the center of some of the show’s wildest moments. Of course, Ashley is her own person and will direct things the way she sees fit. If she’s going to be taking abuse from above the food chain, she’s going to turn around and do the same to those under her. However, her abuse down the ladder comes with cringe-worthy sexual overtones, a tactic that makes her feel more powerful and in control.
Towards the end of Season 3, Homelander has gotten rid of Stan Edgar and put Ashley in his place as the new CEO of the company. At this point, Ashley has completely given in to the fact that if she’s going to be in the job she’s always dreamed of, she needs to deal with whatever Homelander wants. And Ashley is not going to let this opportunity go, especially after all she has been through. Despite Starlight’s attempts to convince her to help take down the company from within, Ashley sends her off on her way, pretty much establishing herself in her new evil position.
Ashley’s character in The Boys is enjoyed by many fans for a whole spectrum of reasons. Her character arc from Season 1 to Season 3 stands out as one of the most subtly complex. Ashley, at first, is one to sympathize with, as she is clearly a go-getter who found herself stuck in a horrific professional situation. But what makes this character so uniquely enjoyable is that Ashley becomes somewhat of a walking car wreck that you simply can’t look away from. She is not going to let go of her professional goals even if it means working with a sociopathic superhero who could laser-melt her eye sockets at any time. It’s going to be very interesting to see where the creators decide to portray her ever-changing personality in the upcoming Season 4.