The Horrors of “The Boys”

The Horrors of “The Boys”

At this point, if you’ve been watching season three of The Boys, you are aware that they have delved into the horrible, grotesqueness of the universe.

Warning: This post contains a lot of vulgarities, gross subjects, and offensive content. Sorry.
Additional Warning: This post contains spoilers for seasons 1-3 of The Boys.

Those warnings are absolutely related. I can’t really figure out how to talk about this show without using terms that are … nasty. That’s your warning. If you have no interest in a show about gross heroes doing nasty things and not always getting commupance, just click away. I don’t mind. This show is not for everyone.

What is “The Boys”?

At it’s heart, the concept of The Boys is ‘What if superheroes were made? How bad could that be?’ And the answer is “Fucking horrible!” Honestly I don’t know why they were surprised, seeing as the whole thing was invented by a Nazi.

I’m not kidding. The Supes (as they’re called) were invented by a Nazi scientist, Frederick Vought, who sorted it out doing unethical experiments on prisoners at Dachau. His first success was in the form of his own wife, who adopted the name “Stormfront” (they’re not subtle, folks), and when they realized the Nazis were going to lose, they defected to the US. After explaining that he could give the US his special Compound V and make more Supes, President Franklin Roosevelt pardoned Vought. Stormfront took the name Liberty and was known as the first hero.

Fast forward to today, Vought died, Liberty ‘vanished,’ and Stan Edgar took over. Edgar would cover up any casualties caused by the Supes, and ran a crazy, complex, setup where they created as many Supes as possible. Not all are ‘useful’ (read: a lot are useless powers), but those who are, become official Supes with the goal of being in The Seven (read: The Justice League, more or less). Instead of telling people that Supes are made, though, Vought keeps it a secret that babies are being injected with the compound to become Supes.

Now. If you think that create a race of übermensch without a lot of checks and balances might end badly, you would be right. Without any natural predators, the Supes (especially Homelander, who is basically evil Superman) embrace their godlike selves and are … well, assholes. They rape people, they kill, they abuse, and pretty much all of them are some level of sociopath.

Enter The Boys, a group of non-powered people who hate Supes. Led by Billy Butcher, whose wife was raped and murdered (he believed) by Homelander, we trip into them when A-Train (a speedster) runs through and kills Hughie’s girlfriend. Hughie joins the Boys and works with them to take down the Supes.

It’s not really working out well. Turns out, it’s super hard (heh) to kill Supes.

Where Are the Queers?

If you’re like me, and you’re reading this so you probably are, you’re watching the show with an eye on the queers. And honestly, there aren’t a lot. In the comics, Ted, Homelander, and Soldier Boy are all pretty much bisexual. Or ‘I don’t care’ sexual. If you’ve read the comics, you know how gross all that got.

On the other hand, if you only watch the TV show, the closest to Homelander being queer you get is when he made Doppleganger be a woman so he could have sex with a woman he’d killed. Not really great rep, I know. And then in this newest season, the first goddamn episode had a gay man (Termite) dive into the penis of his boyfriend and blow it up (killing him) by sneezing.

And lesbians? Or ladies in general? Well, basically just Maeve. Her kind of girlfriend (Elena) has been MIA though seeing how last season ended is anyone shocked?

What’s up with Maeve?

Maeve is introduced as Homelander’s BFF. The second member of The Seven, she is also his oldest ‘friend,’ if you can call it that. Now, in the comics, Maeve thought she really was an amazon and had no idea she was a ‘created’ superhero, and learning the truth changes her. That’s less clear in the show, but in the middle of the first season, Maeve was shaken when Homelander decided not to save the people in a crashing plane.

This event drove Maeve to alcoholism and sex with randos, and that stresses things with her girlfriend. It also led to them being noticed by the news, which led to Homelander outing them in season two. Just in case you didn’t know he was a total asshole. Ashley, the hero PR head of Vought, wants Elena and Maeve to go public as lesbians, but Elena has no interest in that. Also? Maeve’s bi, you jerks.

By the end of season two, Maeve is clearly moving away from Homelander. She beats the fuck out of Stormfront with the Boys. Honestly it’s my favourite scene of season two, because it was Starlight, Kimiko, and Maeve who combined to kick her ass until Stormfront, realizing she was going to lose, bolted. It didn’t go well for Stormfront, who was eventually blasted by Homelander’s son’s laser eyes, but anyway, it was clear Maeve had switched allegiances.

The problem though is that Homelander was unchecked. Even with blackmail video of the plane situation, Maeve was in a bad spot. When we get to season three, she’s working with The Boys to take down Homelander.

But … Where is Maeve?

It’s not hard to miss that Maeve isn’t really around all that much this season. A scene here or there, and it feels disconnected. And while in character she explains she’s ‘away’ working out to help defeat Homelander, but leaving some false rumors about being “hungover, tits deep in some random fuck-pile” to avoid Homelander’s suspicion, it feels weird, doesn’t it?

It’s extra weird if you’ve read the comics. See that working out stuff happens. In the show, Maeve explains she doesn’t expect to defeat her nemesis personally, but should manage to “buy Butcher a second or two to get a good shot.” And that’s how she dies in the comics. The way she talks in the show is clear she expects to die in the fight versus Homelander, and she’s okay with it. But … Why would the actress be so distant?

As it turns out, this is a case of life impacting art.

COVID.

Dominique McElligott, who plays Maeve, is a social-media avoider and introvert, and she also lives in Ireland. She recently moved back after ten years in LA (and previously London), and loves being home but as we all know, travel’s a mess right now. It was simply hard to get her there.

They apparently had to go back and late-film her scenes for earlier episodes because McElligott just wasn’t available. It happens but that certainly explains why she feels disconnected from the story.

How it Ends?

You know I won’t tell you. But I will say this, as the season ends, Maeve is more involved. So if you’re watching for her, just wait. Maeve gets her moment and makes the most of it.

B-

Season Three of The Boys is more offensive, horrifying, and gross than ever. At the same time, it really holds on to the abject terror that would be if we had Supes in real life. If you love the dark, evil, offensive, shit, the show won’t disappoint.

New episodes of The Boys are released on Fridays on Amazon Prime.

About Mika A. Epstein

Mika has been deep in fandom since she could say 'Trekkie.' With decades experience in running fansites, developing software, and organizing communities, she's taken on the challenge of delving into the recesses of television for queers long forgotten. Making this site with Tracy is nothing short of serendipity. Mika lives with her wife and their cats in Southern California. Of course she has a hybrid, but she'd rather ride her bicycle.

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