The Boys gets messier, wilder, and better than ever
***This post contains major spoilers for both The Boys comic and television adaptation.***
In the opening episodes of the third and latest season of The Boys, a man shrinks down to the size of a pin, and enters another man's penis in a sexual act. Shortly after, the shrunken man, who had just done some drugs, sneezes and accidentally goes back to normal size while still inside his sex partner, killing him in a gruesome fashion.
This may seem insane, and it is, but for this Amazon Prime hit, it's par for the course. For the uninitiated, this may scream "bury your gays," however, this random duo came and went as fast as their fun, and isn't necessarily a good depiction of the show's overall treatment toward its queer characters.
The Boys at its core is a satire about superheroes, yet this show often comes frighteningly close to reality, and includes LGBTQ+ representation that often hits home.
Changed from the comics
In the original 2006 comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, LGBTQ+ people and queerness were often only included as slurs or terrible events and murders.
Luckily, the Amazon adaptation leaves most of that behind as it ignores the more homophobic plot-lines altogether and creates more inclusive, fresh stories that stand out while fitting perfectly in the amazingly bonkers world of the show.
Often making fun of every single superhero archetype you can imagine, The Boys is at its best when it portrays terrible people doing terrible things. In the original comics, they often used the queerness as a negative thing used by evil people to "good" people, which I don't think I need to go into detail about the harmfulness of that.
One of the most talked about additions to the show came in the form of the incredibly hot Jensen Ackles as Soldier Boy, raising some eyebrows from comic fans as his origin story isn't the best on paper, literally in many different, yet wildly awful ways.
Soldier Boy gets straight-washed (for the best)
In the comics, Soldier Boy is their version of Captain America, being an optimistic do-gooder who tries to be squeaky clean. Homelander, the Superman-esque principal antagonist, sees this naivety and pounces, getting Soldier Boy to have sex with him under the guise of it being an audition for the big leagues.
This very problematic showing of queerness being used as a tool for evil gains isn't the type of representation we need anymore. Luckily, the television adaptation understood that.
In the Amazon Prime edition, Homelander and Soldier Boy are about as straight as can be, which is for the best. The show wouldn't gain anything from adding that problematic storyline, and by choosing to include LGBTQ+ themes and characters in other, positive ways, they didn't straight-wash the rest of the story like most other television programs would have probably done.
Queen Maeve is our actual Queen
In a television show filled to the brim with the most insane and dangerous people you can imagine, Queen Maeve is a standout.
Maeve, played by Dominique McElligott, is the Wonder Woman figure of the show's own major superhero team. Following in line with her comic book counterpart, Maeve is queer, having a girlfriend for most of the show, and spiraling into bed with anyone who can keep up when they aren't together.
Maeve's story is morally complicated, but also one of the most compelling. She is one of the few characters you actually root for and one of the few "supes" who feels any remorse for their actions or shows any glimmer of being a good person.
However, soon after you begin to feel for her, the pain begins...
Maeve's queerness is used in ways that feel very fitting in the month of June...
When The Worst, aka Homelander, finds out Maeve is secretly queer with a girlfriend, he quickly uses it against her while outing her as a lesbian (which she isn't) and using her girlfriend's life to keep her in line and doing what he wants.
A chilling situation to be in on its own, yet that is only a bit of the terror that Maeve experiences through Homelander. Most of it has nothing to do with her queerness, but the parts that do often ring closer to our modern world than you'd expect in a show about people with superpowers.
Vought, the overlord company they all work for, doesn't make a fuss over her queerness, instead using it as an opportunity to promote themselves as inclusive and sell rainbow merch everywhere.
Sound familiar? It's not June anymore, so you might not be aware of the rainbow capitalism that permeates by queer-phobic corporations for the month of June, but the show gets that, in a way the largest brands on Earth still don't.
The show also is pretty good at understanding ways to include Maeve's queerness and LGBTQ+ themes while not making it seem forced or out-of-place while still following the original comic, somewhat. However, the show had a secret "bury your gays" trope waiting for an unsuspecting victim (the audience).
In the comics, Maeve meets a dire end
In the comic, Queen Maeve meets a horrible end at the hands of Homelander, which the show clearly took into consideration. The show made a lot of changes from its originator, and while the collective "we" were holding our breath that she would be okay, the writing was on the walls.
In the final climactic battle of Season 3, Maeve sacrifices herself. Shortly after, an in memoriam advertisement plays honoring Maeve, gutting me and all those who hoped the show wouldn't fall victim to one of the most egregious queer tropes.
A couple of moments pass before they reveal Maeve and Elena are alive and soon to be on the road away from Homelander. Later on in the episode, they showed her bosses deleting the footage of her survival and keeping the information secret, essentially giving the two a clean getaway and a happily-ever-after.
The show-runners were clearly cognizant of the harmful, unfortunately common queer death trope, and used it against their audience for a short bit, scaring all of us, but ultimately giving one of their best characters a happy ending in a show that literally does the worst and most awful things you can imagine happen to people on an episodic basis.
A classic in the making
In the age of the MCU completely rewriting the superhero genre, The Boys is one of the best shows on television and one of the best superhero shows of all time.
How a wild superhero satire that makes fun of everyone's favorite heroes made itself one of the best superhero shows of all time is a long post all on its own, but a large part of its success comes from its willingness to go there.
It doesn't tackle light themes lightly, often showing the worst of what humanity offers, but despite that, includes LGBTQ+ themes with respect. Something that Marvel and DC have yet to succeed at.
The Boys continually surprised me in the ways it included its LGBTQ+ themes and storylines, integrating real-world LGBTQ+ experiences with the biting, bloody filter that The Boys does best. It does this while showing every other show that with a little care and intelligence, queer people can be up in the big leagues with all the other superheroes.