The Boys Is More Shocking When Its Trying to Be Sweet

The Boys Is More Shocking When Its Trying to Be Sweet

“The Boys” has always been a show that thrives on shock value, with its graphic violence and dark humor. However, the series becomes even more jarring when it attempts to show moments of tenderness. This contrast is particularly evident in Season 4, where the most unsettling scenes are not the ones filled with gore, but those that reveal the vulnerability of its characters, especially the sadistic superhuman protagonist, Homelander.

In one of the most poignant moments of the season, Homelander, played by Antony Starr, is seen in a rare state of emotional vulnerability. At the end of Episode 3, he asks his young son Ryan, portrayed by Cameron Crovetti, “Why am I not good enough for you?” His eyes are watery, and his voice is filled with genuine hurt. This scene is shocking not because of any physical violence, but because it shows Homelander in a state of emotional powerlessness. For a character who is usually in control and exudes menace, this moment of raw emotion is deeply unsettling.

Homelander’s vulnerability is further highlighted by his insecurities about aging and losing control over his own body. His graying hair is a constant reminder that he is not invincible. This loss of control is exacerbated by his inability to fully manipulate his son, who still seeks the company of his surrogate father, William Butcher, played by Karl Urban. Despite all his efforts to isolate and indoctrinate Ryan, the boy’s loyalty remains divided.

The show contrasts Homelander’s emotional plea with the harsh parenting styles of other characters. William Butcher’s father, Sam Butcher, believes that his abusive behavior made William tougher, ignoring the fact that it drove his other son, Lenny, to suicide. Homelander’s own surrogate father, Jonah Vogelbaum, admits to having emotionally and physically manipulated Homelander to make him the strongest man in the world. Even Homelander’s biological father, Soldier Boy, dismisses him as weak and a disappointment, echoing the toxic masculinity that has plagued their family for generations.

In “The Boys,” even well-meaning parental actions are often couched in violence. Victoria Neuman injects her daughter with Compound V to give her superpowers, despite the painful side effects. Homelander himself shoves Ryan off a roof to force him to fly, a far cry from a loving father’s guidance.

The spinoff series “Gen V” continues this trend, portraying parents who are more concerned with their children’s public image than their well-being. Little Cricket’s mother controls her diet to the point of inducing bulimia, while Andre Anderson’s father insists he continue using his powers despite the fatal consequences.

However, Season 4 of “The Boys” does offer moments of genuine warmth. In Episode 3, Butcher admits to Ryan that he is terrified of dying without making things right with him. This admission is a stark contrast to Butcher’s usual bravado and offers a glimpse of his softer side. Similarly, Hughie finds closure for his parental trauma through a conversation with his mother, who explains that her abandonment was due to a period of severe depression.

These moments of vulnerability are rare in a show known for its brutality, making them all the more impactful. They subvert the audience’s expectations and add depth to the characters, showing that even the most hardened individuals have their moments of weakness. In a season that revisits themes of corporate politics, American fascism, and the manufactured nature of celebrity, these glimpses of genuine emotion are a welcome change.

“The Boys” is at its most shocking when it peels back the layers of its characters to reveal their humanity. These moments of tenderness and vulnerability are a stark contrast to the show’s usual fare of violence and cynicism, making them all the more jarring and memorable.

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