Boys Season 3 review: Superhero satire is getting tiring

A still from The Boys with Karl Urban as Billy Butcher, Antony Starr and Homelander

Guess who is the villain? Surprise! Both! We love to see bad guys!!!
picture: Prime video

This is the thing about boys: It may be entertaining, but it basically fails because we already know the world is bad, and this show doesn’t offer a different perspective.

Imagination will always present an alternative world to the one we live in. When you present a fantasy world, parody of the world, or you make an attempt to do so, you raise a mirror to the society we already live in. spelling It’s hard to define, but I think it should highlight a new way of questioning what we are constantly around, and show an alternative thought process to confront the absurd. Status quo nonsenseor offer a way to overcome the noise surrounding seemingly obvious problems that no one wants to know about.

Like what we got. The world is brutal and cruel. He is unwavering and does not care. It is violent in ways that are incomprehensible, systematic, overtly capitalist, and complex. What is the purpose of boys If he only asserts that all this is just the way of the world? There will always be men in power, and there will always be those who hate it. The key to understanding what boys He’s actually trying to say, though, that it comes from our favorite sad bad guy, Billy Butcher.

Karl Urban plays Butcher, the man whose family superheroes have destroyed, who is now on a mission to get the cool stuff off. He founded his (literal) anti-hero group, The Boys, not a twisted revenge fantasy, but for the right reasons! Because he is in shock! Because he is, at his core, the poster maker of the self-successful neoliberal individualist fiction.

Neoliberal individualists do things for themselves because of their belief that society will not or cannot help them. It is a deeply self-absorbed perspective: the idea that a single individual can make a difference simply by acting of their own volition against regimes in power. Neoliberal individualists do not have strong ties to other people and, in fact, do not see people as worthy of having relationships with them. The butcher himself does not value society, other family units, personal relationships, or even the common good. His only goal is to achieve his incredibly selfish goals.

This is the world of The Boys. Nobody is coming to save you. Your systems are corrupt. Your friends are liars. The world is on fire. Nothing matters, so nothing you do matters. Might as well go out fighting. Structural problems are reframed as individual issues, and the only way to solve interpersonal problems is through violent interactions with these problems. After all, the system can’t help you. The Federal Bureau of Superhero Oversight is corrupt, Vought Industries is run by self-interested capitalists, and even society seems intent on ignoring the truth. The only option for Butcher, or any of the characters in The Boys, is to take matters into their own hands.

A still from The Boys showing The Deep

Oh my god an abuser reinstated into a position of power alongside the woman he assaulted over her protestations, wow, that never happens, incredible.
Image: Prime Video

Because Butcher values individualism over society, because he is a neoliberal who wishes for the obscure “better,” but rejects the society he seeks to save, he disregards the social norms of that society, instead embracing the wanton violence and destruction he believes is the problem with superheroes. In season three, this is perfectly exemplified by the fact that he takes V24—a compound that gives him superpowers, despite his saying in earlier seasons that the reason he founded the Boys is because “no individual should have that much power.” Butcher is so full of himself, so absurdly focused on his own goals, that he becomes what he used to hate, and that’s fine, actually, because he’s still an individual. He can make choices.

The Boys is what happens when we imagine there are individual superheroes who might be out there, waiting to save us, but who never show up. This show is the kind of storytelling that comes out of the idea that everyone is an asshole, waiting to fuck you over. The Boys has spread its focus across the supes of the Seven, the Boys, and a couple key political players, each with their own personal agendas and drives, and very few who value community of any kind. It is a frustrating show to watch, because The Boys turns into a dick swinging contest, and whoever can beat the other person up better or faster becomes the villain, until someone else shows up with a bigger dick to shove in your face.

As a show which seeks to answer the question of “what would ‘real’ superpowers to do the human body,” The Boys has a violence problem. The real world is already brutal, violent, and bloody. What purpose does gore serve? What catharsis comes from seeing people in power tear apart people who do not have the same physical power? What satisfaction comes from watching someone get blown up, or set on fire, or cut through with laser beams? Everyone is an asshole, and this is just brutality for the sake of one-upsmanship, for the shock factor that, at this point, isn’t that shocking, and is probably just gross.

The only thing that The Boys has is its own self-absorption, a masturbatory belief that it’s not like the other shows, or comics, or cinematic universes. But it’s not different from any of them. It’s just as obsessed with the myth of individuality and traumatized men who do bad things for “good” reasons. It shows people in power destroying the world; it idolizes people who find moments of peace, levity, or strength amid the overwhelmingly horrible situations and systems; and instead of exposing the hypocrisy of corporations who attempt to capitalize on the neoliberal “wokeness” of society, it merely reminds us that it happens, and isn’t that funny?

Remember when Nancy Pelosi knelt with a Kente cloth? Combine that energy with the shock of seeing Rudy Guiliani on The Masked Singer and the baffled silences in Charlamagne tha God’s interview with Ziwe.

Remember when Nancy Pelosi knelt with a Kente cloth? Combine that energy with the shock of seeing Rudy Guiliani on The Masked Singer and the baffled silences in Charlamagne tha God’s interview with Ziwe.
Image: Prime Video

The people who will enjoy this show probably share a lot of the same liberal ideals that I do. The Boys gleefully pokes fun at the worst kind of right-wing and corporate fuckery, and it’s almost fun enough that I could ignore the rest of the neoliberal individualist propaganda. But with no comeuppance, hope, or optimism, The Boys strives to produce satire and shits out nihilism. Some people are into that stuff.

The problem is, once again, we had a president who threw paper towels out of an airplane as a form of “disaster aid.” We had a defamation case that was watched the world over for reasons of celebrity, and saw a morally corrupt, widely hated lawyer appeared on a game show as a “surprise guest.” We watched an actual insurrection on live TV, and nothing has changed. This drama is just part of the fabric of our world, and even exploding penises and mental ménages à trois with octopi can’t top the absolute horrorshow that is our nightly news.

It is the most absurd kind of television marketing, a show that pats itself on the back for existing and pushing the boundaries of taste rather than the boundaries of storytelling. Even as stars Karl Urban and Antony Starr chew on the scenery, even as Eric Kripke deftly weaves together an ensemble cast of storylines to produce an incredibly watchable, at times even enjoyable show, it simply does not deliver what it promised, if it ever did, if it ever even could. I think the best social satire that The Boys has created is that the extremely online pop culture consumers ever imagined it was a satire to begin with. It is bankrolled and distributed by Amazonafter every thing.

The first three episodes of the third season of boys It’s on Prime Video now; New episodes are released weekly until the end of July 8.

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