The Boys reflects on our socio-economic power structures

The show emphasizes the collective power of people against systemic injustice

Two characters face each other in an intense stare-down
The show highlights the perspective of humans in a world where heroes’ corrupt actions have consequences to the masses. Photo Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

By: Nercya Kalino, Staff Writer & Yelin Gemma Lee, Arts & Culture Editor

I was not keen about watching anything on Prime until my older brother, with whom I share a lot of television interests, suggested I watch The Boys. The Boys navigates the perspective of humans who have suffered at the hands of powerful heroes — something overlooked in many iconic hero franchises like Marvel. It embodies the ideology that humans are capable of saving themselves instead of waiting on heroes, and specifically in this show, saving themselves from the heroes. The Boys is currently on its third season, and the plotlines keep getting increasingly intense, bringing up reflective questions about our own society.

The story follows the lives of four men, Butcher, Hughie, Frenchie and Mother’s Milk. These characters, besides Frenchie, have been impacted by some of the “supes” of the state: Homelander, Soldier Boy and A-Train. It introduces a group, the “Association of Collateral Damage Survivors,” where people of different backgrounds share horrific moments that result from supes involvement.

As a viewer of hero franchises, the most terrifying and powerful evil I can imagine is if superheroes become corrupt. This was demonstrated in the recent Marvel film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, where Scarlet Witch turns to dark power and evil intentions to get what she wants. The Boys demonstrates the perspective of ordinary citizens in a similar scenario, but with systemic corruption powering the superheroes’ evil actions and the consequences that humans experience.

In season one, I saw similarities between the charade of heroism in the show to celebrity in real life. There is a threatening separation of socio-economic status between ordinary citizens and celebrities, similar to the power difference depicted in The Boys. The show itself has several blatant metaphors and mirrors the celebrity culture we are used to in our own society.

Some of the supes characters take on horrific paths to suppress or assert dominance over one another: we see this in the relationship dynamics between A-Train and Homelander. This plot mirrors a chain of aggression that we see in our own society.

Another portrayal of the corrupt entities, as we see reflected in today’s world, is political and private entities forming agreements. In the show, we see that behind the scenes of celebrity life, the supes attempt to inject themselves into politics through politically powerful individuals. This reminded me of real life political relationships that are formed for personal gain.

The show further draws the audiences in by the impending question of whether the boys will be able to find a way to kill off the supes. The timeless question, “Will goodness prevail?” echoes in audiences hearts, just not in the way we are used to, with the superheroes being the underhanded villains of the story. It makes us question how we define goodness and justice.

In many ways, The Boys reflects major systemic and social issues within our society, like celebrity culture, socio-economic class divide, and systemic corruption. The show warns of an unnecessary loss of life as the ultimate consequence of harsh imbalances and misuses of power.