Why The Boys became a culture war flashpoint

The Prime Video series will return with its fourth season on Thursday, 13 June

Antony Starr as Homelander in The Boys Season 3
Antony Starr as Homelander in The Boys Season 4, despite being the villain the character has been seen as a hero to some. (Prime Video)

For The Boys no topic is off the table, in fact if it can be satirised it will, that's how the Prime Video series hopes to get audiences talking about societal issues, values, and moral dilemmas that have become a regular feature of the media and political cycle.

It's supposed to be a way to hold a mirror up to audiences, to warn them about those in power. But it isn't always taken that way, interestingly the show has also galvanised a select group who feel seen, or connect with, characters like Homelander (Antony Starr).

Read more: The Boys season 4 review: Brutal, obscene and just as diabolical as ever

For some viewers, Homelander is the hero rather than the villain. The character exerts his dominance in any given situation, toting misogynistic beliefs with female superheroes like Starlight (Erin Moriarty) and Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) while pretending to be a welcome leader of the Seven on the outside, and is seen by some to challenge the so-called "woke" agenda.

The Boys (Prime Video)
The Boys satirises aspects of modern life to get audiences to look at them in a different light. (Prime Video)

What some don't realise is that he's an egotistical megalomaniacal who cares little for the people he claims to protect. The character is reminiscent of certain public figures, and the reason he can still be seen as appealing appears to stem from one thing — Homelander has power, and power is alluring.

Those that think that, though, are missing the point intended in the show. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, show creator Eric Kripke called this out by saying: "I clearly have a perspective, and I’m not shy about putting that perspective in the show. Anyone who wants to call the show 'woke' or whatever, that’s OK. Go watch something else.

"But I’m certainly not going to pull any punches or apologise for what we’re doing. Some people who watch it think Homelander is the hero. What do you say to that?

"The show’s many things. Subtle isn’t one of them. So if that’s the message you’re getting from it, I just throw up my hands."

The Boys (Prime Video)
Aspects of the story is seen to challenge the so-called "woke" agenda, something that has galvanised some viewers with this opinion. (Prime Video)

But why has the show become a culture war flashpoint? The argument is that because the show isn't shy about including narratives around "woke" culture and features characters who are anti-vaxxers, or don't believe in a woman's and reproductive rights, that it is showing its support of them, when in reality it is satirising them to make a point.

Reflecting on how the show approaches these kinds of characters and their followers, Kripke explained: "The Boys is about people that are fans of politicians or demagogues or movements. Even then, to me, the problem isn’t the followers.

"The problem is the leaders manipulating people, shamelessly, to solidify their own power — to the point where it’s worth it to rip the country apart for the gain of a couple fragile egos, a couple corporations and a couple billionaires. The regular person is out-the-f**k-gunned."

The Boys (Prime Video)
The Boys show creator Eric Kripke has said: 'Anyone who wants to call the show 'woke' or whatever, that’s OK. Go watch something else.' (Prime Video)

Season 4 of the Prime Video series will continue in this vein, and it isn't afraid to get political with its storylines either. One narrative is even inspired by the storming of the United States Capitol Building on 6 January.

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Kripke said of the new season: "We write about whatever is p***ing us off or frightening us at the time. I'm under no illusion that we're going to change minds or change anything. We're carnies. I get it. But to be able to just have a place to put our feelings and to say the things we want to say is a real gift."

"The real sin are these powerful and selfish people using social media to intentionally tear people apart for their own selfish interests," the show creator added. "That is just so hateful to me. Our targets are not the people who are racing into these situations. It's the people who are manipulating them to do so."

Perhaps the message will be heard loud and clear this time around.

The Boys season 4 premieres with its first three episodes on Prime Video on Thursday, 13 June.