The Boys, Season 3 Review – Underhanded Partisan Propaganda
Season three of The Boys goes full-tilt Woke, destroying its satirical premise and key strengths in the process.
The Amazon adaptation of the popular comic book series The Boys just wrapped up its third season, but the question is whether the show has managed to tread any new ground in comparison to what came before. The show’s attempt to question the heroic legitimacy of superheroes in an age of mass marketing and social media was a novel one, but season three changes the formula for the worse.
In the end, The Boys lowers itself from wicked social satire to underhanded partisan propaganda with almost cat-like grace, which is its most sinister aspect. In so doing, it dooms the show by alienating half of its potential core audience, just like every other pop culture property infected by the mind virus of Woke politics.
Season three picks up right after the climatic battle against Stormfront, a superhero with secret ties to Nazism who is subsequently defeated by Ryan, a young boy with blossoming superpowers similar to that of his biological father Homelander. The incident has a profound effect on the latter, who has been slowly slipping into mental instability as his narcissism gives way to personal insecurity.
Hughie is now working for the Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs, which just so happens to be run by Victoria Neuman, a supe with the power to explode the heads of her targets via telekinesis. Neuman has a complicated relationship with Stan Edgar, the CEO of the deeply corrupt Vought International, responsible for proliferating supes into public life.
Meanwhile, Butcher, Frenchie and Kimiko keep doing their thing, while MM tries to live a normal life and grow closer to his daughter. Eventually, everyone gets pulled back into the fray when Homelander makes an aggressive move to take over Vought International.
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Realizing that Homelander represents an existential threat to the entire world, the plan is to locate a rumored secret weapon capable of killing him, which is supposedly located in Russia. After following a lead that started during the last generation of superheroes, Butcher and his crew make their way to Russia where they discover Soldier Boy, a supe long-thought dead.
It turns out that Russian scientists had experimented on Soldier Boy in an effort to boost his powers and turn him into an anti-West weapon. This includes a devastating new ability that causes immense destruction to the surrounding area, triggered by a Manchurian Candidate-style subconscious trigger which causes Soldier Boy to black out after each attack.
Soldier Boy eventually makes his way Stateside, exacting revenge on his former team members who he believes hung him out to dry. At the same time, Butcher and Hughie must deal with the addicting effects of an experimental Vought compound which grants normal humans superpowers for 24 hours.
While season one of The Boys focused inherently on the premise that superheroes writ large were a threat to society, as opposed to a blessing, the second season attempted to swing things in a more controversial direction. It started making allusions to overt Nazism, racism and other social issues that had filtered their way into the headlines.
Season three decides to run full-steam ahead into complete abject Wokeness, and fails as a result. The Boys was always meant to be a satirical jab at the state of Western politics, foreign policy, and the negative effects of celebrity idolatry, but the show’s blatant one side-ism has resulted in a season that has lost perspective.
It’s obvious from the start that every single reference to racism, guns, God and patriotism must immediately be hogtied to the Republican party and Conservatives across the board, in an effort to link them as one. At the same time, the Left-wing politics of the show promote aimless hedonism and objectification of human beings as something to be celebrated and cheered.
There are only two scenes in the entire season which attempt to poke fun at the Left. The first is a scene that takes place in an amusement park featuring all sorts of rides, food vendors and other attractions with hilarious pun-filled Woke names, which was definitely worth a laugh. It was a brief, albeit fleeting flashback to the double-edged material of season one.
The second is a rather poignant parody of the already parodical “Imagine” video crafted by tone-deaf celebrities during the Covid-19 outbreak. It spends nearly every other minute trying to pin the tail of racism, bigotry, sexism and homophobia on anyone slightly to the political Right of Bernie Sanders.
It’s the usual laundry list of convenient topics designed to spark outrage based on false narratives. Meanwhile, it proudly pushes controversial-on-purpose scenes of superheroes shrinking down to small size to crawl into penile urethras for the purpose of kink, while characters like Deep engage in full, overt on screen bestiality.
With so much focus on gratuitous violence, over-the-top vulgar language and sexual content bordering on an X-rating, The Boys has no time to focus on the actual story in an effort to get back on track. As such, the intriguing premise of morally bankrupt and/or questionable superheroes takes a backseat to politics, straight from the Leftist playbook.
If there’s one thing to be said about The Boys, it’s that the show is shot and produced with quality in mind. Season three is no different, and the various sets and characters are all top notch. The actors turn out wonderful performances, which deserves credit given the outrageous lunacy of the subject matter.
The characters have always been a major draw, flipping back and forth between their official celebrity personas, and the ingloriously imperfect real people who blunder their way through life whenever they’re not standing in front of a camera.
It was also a smart decision to adapt the idea of Butcher and Hughie taking the experimental formula which grants them superpowers. Not only does it allow for some truly awesome and hilarious scenes, but it changes the dynamic of the show, giving a glimpse into the inherent hypocrisy that is taking hold.
Action scenes feel few and far between this season, with a lot of time spent talking, arguing and insulting with a typically crude approach. That’s all fine, but it would have been nicer to see more kinetic action scenes, as opposed to the standard fare sprinkled about at key points.
And of course, Antony Starr continues to steal every scene he’s in as the narcissistic, nightmarish mirror image of Superman that is Homelander. His character manages to grow a lot during the season, providing glimpses into just how fragile his mental state is, and how his stalemate fight at the end of the season may affect him in future episodes.
The aforementioned Woke direction of the show is now on full display, which will no doubt alienate half of its audience. That’s a real problem, especially given how the first season tried its best to jab both sides in the ribs for the sake of satire. However, any show executively produced by Seth Rogen was bound to go radical in short order.
It must be said that The Boys’ show writers are clever in how they paint a false picture about Conservatives, first by sidestepping the hypocrisy of the BLM movement in an effort to demonize its critics – many of them black – who point out the unfortunate and tragic truth of demographic crime stats in the United States.
Later, it revisits the false narrative of ultra-nationalist white supremacist Conservatives clinging to God and guns when Homelander utilizes their pent up rage as a catalyst for a brand new support base. However, in an effort to keep from making it look too obvious, the showrunners decided to pepper in some minority faces into the crowd, which ends up nullifying their argument.
It doesn’t stop there, however. The Boys also brings the concept of toxic masculinity to the forefront in the form of Soldier Boy, a pre-60s superhero undone by his “toxic masculinity” and bravado, which is a twisted and mutated version of actual reality. The intention is obvious – to criticize the patriarchy in an age of radical feminists and beta male white knights.
In fact, costume designer Laura Jean Shannon made this obvious during a June 2021 interview with Variety when she said, “Our goal was to highlight a bygone era of overt masculinity and grit. With that pedigree we dove headfirst into baking in an all-American quality grounded in a military soldier’s practicality with a heavy dose of old school cowboy swagger.”
Soldier Boy’s openly misogynist attitude is the real focus of his character, right down to one scene where he threatens to slap a character “like Connery,” a direct reference to the late Sean Connery who once suggested that it was OK to slap a woman if she behaved in a belligerent and combative manner.
The message is simple – traditional masculinity is evil and destructive. Never mind that it was traditionally masculine males who fought in WWII to help liberate the world from Nazi oppression; it doesn’t matter. The Boys writers and showrunners dishonestly pervert and distort the image of a traditional male as yet another attack on half the human race.
Nobody should really be surprised.
And finally, it takes a direct swing at the police through the introduction of Blue Hawk, a superhero vigilante who polices high-crime minority neighborhoods, much to the chagrin of the mostly black populace who accuse him of abusing his power with racist intent. There’s a scene in the season when Blue Hawk agrees to a town hall with various members of the community, which quickly runs afoul.
Once again, the writers cleverly try to disguise their politics by openly admitting the rampant crime of minority neighborhoods – which is an unfortunate statistical fact – before making it seem as if that truth is being exploited so that racist authority figures can run roughshod over minorities.
When Blue Hawk defends his reasoning for policing these neighborhoods, he is accused by one of the community members as having powers, while they do not. This is a direct reference to the “police have guns, and we don’t” line perpetrated by members of BLM and other defund the police movements across America.
However, this may actually be the show’s Achilles Heel, especially in the light of all the controversy surrounding Leftism over the last year. 81% of polled black Americans want more policing in their neighborhoods, while the entire concept of defund the police has been rejected wholesale by the entirety of the voting community, in light of out-of-control crime epidemics sweeping the nation.
In other words, this dog ain’t gonna’ hunt in 2022, and it could prove costly by the time season four gets around to filming. We are currently living in an age when the Republican Party has become the party of inclusion and tolerance, and people from all walks of life, skin colors and orientations are flipping their votes Red in preparation for a massive cultural and political backlash.
That’s a shame, because all The Boys had to do was stick to the premise that every character in the show is flawed, nobody is perfect, nor has justification to grandstand from their soapbox, and tackle social topics from an apolitical standpoint.
Coincidentally, this is something The Orville: New Horizons has been doing to excellent effect this year, and it’s still the modern gold standard for smart storytelling that everyone can get on board with. Perhaps The Boys’ producers and writers should watch an episode or two…or all of them.
There’s good to be had in season three of The Boys, and it’s a wildly creative and inventive show with a lot to offer. However, the switching of focus from characters to politics ends up dooming the former to run into a brick wall rather quickly. There’s little incentive to stick with all but a few of the characters, particularly Homelander, Butcher, Hughie and Starlight, and Frenchie and Kimiko.
The rest are there mostly as background material to push narratives that go largely nowhere. The Soldier Boy story arc is wildly different from the comics, but it’s actually an improvement, which is worth a few points. However, the decision to turn him into a nightmarishly twisted image of classic American masculinity dooms him to failure.
When the virus of Woke political messaging overtakes a franchise, the entire body goes stage 4 in relatively short time, effectively murdering the patient outright. The Boys will undoubtedly shuffle down this path as it moves forward, shedding one viewer after another, and costing Amazon more cash in the end.
In the meantime, everyone will have to decide on whether The Boys has merit or not, but it’s hard to imagine anyone except staunch Left-wing radicals holding it near and dear to their hearts. Ahhh, Wokeism – far more contagious than the Covid-19 Omicron variant, and a hundred times more annoying than its persistent lingering cough.