In Season 3 of Amazon Prime’s stellar THE BOYS, Homelander’s popularity is suffering among the mainstream but skyrocketing among men admiring his unrepentant macho act. As he becomes increasingly psychotic and dangerous, Billy the Butcher and the Boys, now government operatives, seek a weapon rumored to have killed Soldier Boy (a take on Captain America), which they believe will kill Homelander. Butcher, meanwhile, has another big card up his sleeve. The game is on, and it’s better than ever.
Based on the over-the-top graphic novels by Garth Ennis, THE BOYS accomplishes something amazing. It simultaneously lampoons comic-book superheroes, perfectly satirizes America by holding up a mirror to expose its glaring fault lines, and, at the same time, presents the most realistic depiction of what superheroes would actually be like. In Season 1, we saw the Seven, America’s greatest superheroes based on the Justice League, act like pampered celebrities. In Season 2, we saw the dangers of idealizing and worshipping them and flirting with the idea of giving them national defense powers. In Season 3, we see that superheroes don’t make you a better person, they only make you more of what you are, accentuating your flaws, and we see what happens when the weak project their desires onto a strongman who unfortunately also happens to be a psychopath.
Nothing is spared. The self-indulgent “Imagine” video celebrities put out during quarantine, corporations co-opting social justice movements, Pepsi’s horrible BLM commercial, Kyle Rittenhouse’s lame defense of murder, Trump and his heavily propagandized and fanatical following–the most hilarious bits aren’t so much the lampooning of the superheroes but of America itself, and they’re achieved simply, without any preaching, by holding up a mirror and asking you to take a look.
This season started off a little rougher than the previous two until it found its footing, reaching a little too hard for shock while delivering less of its natural comedy. Once things get rolling, though, and the fight is on, it blasts its way into its old brilliance. Soldier Boy, in particular, offers a fantastic and hilarious take on Captain America, coming back from the dead not with enduring American values but instead all its traditional prejudices. And Anthony Starr’s Homelander is even more menacing and unpredictable. Shifting alliances and a new weapon used by the Boys ups the ante and might just even the playing field. The worst of the bunch don’t always lose but are sometimes served a comeuppance in which they realize how horrible they are and have to live with it. All of the conflict that simmered outside the public eye for two seasons is coming to a head, and in the next season, we may see it boil over into a polarized America.
I’ll be there to watch it, can’t wait.
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