The Boys Has Officially Gone Too Far

The show has finally found the line and crossed it.

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The Boys has proven that audiences have an appetite for gruesome gore and nudity to cartoonish levels. Human centipedes, bestiality, superheroic orgies, and exploding penises (yes, penises plural) are all par for the course in this series. From Season 1, that’s what fans have come to expect, but there was one burning question hanging behind all those over-the-top moments: at what point will the shocks go too far?

For many fans, that line was crossed in last week’s episode, but in Season 4 Episode 7, the show goes even further, proving that shock value is now the priority, even if that means dragging characters through some of the most devastating experiences a human can suffer.

In The Boys Season 4 Episode 6, Hughie decides to infiltrate Tek Knight’s as Webweaver, only to find himself chained up in his BDSM dungeon at the whim of Ashley and Tek, who believe him to have a safe word he can whip out at any point. Unfortunately, because of the disguise, Hughie has no way to opt out of the activities and is inadvertently being assaulted. But that’s not all. Even after Hughie is unmasked, Tek still assaults him, even threatening to create a hole in Hughie’s gut for him to use.

Tek Knight takes “Webweaver” down to his dungeon for some accidentally non-consensual BDSM.

Amazon Prime Video

When Variety asked The Boys showrunner Eric Kripke why he chose to have Hughie sexually assaulted by his childhood hero after the loss of his dad, Kripke responded “Well, that’s a dark way to look at it! We view it as hilarious.” When asked if Amazon ever pushed back, Kripke said it went as scripted, and that “it’s just such a perfect setup that he doesn’t know his own safe word. It’s just like a beautiful comedy setup that he’s trying to find it the whole time.”

Warning! Spoilers for The Boys below.

In Episode 7, Hughie doesn’t have much time to process both the lingering grief from his dad and this assault before he’s plunged into yet another skirmish with The Seven and their allies, a fight that leads him, Mother’s Milk, and Starlight chasing down a shapeshifter. They appear to chase the threat away, but at the end of the episode, we find out that the shifter took Starlight’s form. Because this version of Starlight seduced him without her knowing his true identity, that means that Hughie has been sexually assaulted three different times in two episodes, each in a way that makes it seem like no big deal.

Hughie is already grieving, and then is assaulted three times in two episodes.

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This is the perfect example of what’s gone wrong with The Boys as a whole. Now in its fourth season, there’s not much room to find new things to shock the audience and keep them excited. The show has covered sexual assault in a (relatively) more sensitive way in the past, but in those instances, it’s always been involving women as the victims. When it’s against men, suddenly it’s the stuff of jokes and dramatic irony.

Kripke has always said that he wanted to keep The Boys away from “edgelord material for incels,” but when everything else is exhausted, viewers can’t just watch Homelander narrowly get away again and again without something escalating. Unfortunately, that escalation has brought the shock squarely into distaste, meaning The Boys has gone from satire into softcore. Hopefully, in its last season, it can find some unventured territory that won’t be at the expense of the many male victims of sexual assault and will still give fans what they want.

The Boys is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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