What are the Political Messages Behind “The Boys”?

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Luca D'Agruma, Staff

The hit television series The Boys is back for a Season 2. Produced by Eric Kripke for Amazon Prime Video and based on the comic series by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, the show highlights the failures of 21st-century pop culture and politics with surprising clarity. 

The Boys is a superhero drama set in a universe similar to ours. America is much the same: consumerist, self-promoting, and flawed but with one key difference. Superheroes are at large and controlled by the mega-conglomerate Vought. At first, it seems like every superhero movie, with Vought’s heroes performing all the tasks expected of them with honor and poise. But slowly the curtain is thrown back, and behind closed doors, Vought and their “Supes” are anything but what they make themselves out to be. 

The plot focuses on a group of vigilantes who are the victims of the collateral damage of Supes. We see their pain morph into anger when they are dismissed, paid off, and threatened by the megacorp that sees them as a threat to their bottom line. Led by the iron-willed Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), the team seeks revenge by exposes the Supes for what they are: narcissistic, needy, power-hungry freaks who shoot first and talk to their lawyers later. 

The Boys forges ahead with unapologetic political commentary that illustrates the political and cultural issues that we face today. Nothing is off-limits for critique in this show. Corporate greed, celebrity culture, and parallels to the #MeToo movement were showcased in the first season, but the second is eerily timely for 2020. Within the course of one season, culture wars waged online through misinformation and memes, a handheld cell phone video capturing a wrongful killing by a Supe precipitates a wave of protests across the country, white nationalism, and neo-nazism cause anti-immigrant killings and marches against the “woke” left. The Boys go deep into exposing the far-right with the emergence of Stormfront, a Nazi superhero who quickly rose to the spotlight to agitate and astro-turf for her ideological benefit. The Boys showcases the failures of the military-industrial complex, nationalism, and corporate hegemony by displaying the corrupt practices and lack of accountability within our system by creating an objectively evil corporation outside of reality so viewers can see the parallels. t’s uncanny seeing the real world in such a dystopian television show.

Fundamentally, The Boys is an example of what our world would really be like if some people were gifted extraordinary powers within our current system. It makes us question our politics while continuing to be dreadfully funny and entertaining. It’s a great show: and its political message is potent for our time.