The Boys' Best Satire So Far Is Sex, Drugs, And Herogasm

The superhero satire "The Boys" makes fun of a whole lot of things, ranging from political affiliations to crass commercialism, but the season 3 episode "Herogasm" skewered one of pop culture's time-held traditions: sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. Drug-fueled orgies have mostly been depicted in various forms of media as unspeakably cool, with gorgeous people languidly performing sex acts in various states of undress. When you ask the vast majority of people to name a movie with an orgy, they're probably going to think of something classy like "Eyes Wide Shut" or something truly salacious like "Caligula." The rich and powerful enjoy their pleasures, often at the expense of others. In true "The Boys" fashion, the long-awaited "Herogasm" doesn't relish in these tropes but instead subverts them, making the participants in Herogasm feel more pathetic than powerful. 

It's important to note that "The Boys" isn't kink-shaming or being sex-negative; in fact, the series depicts sex in ways that are healthy and refreshing quite often. The sex happening at this superhero orgy just isn't healthy for anyone, for a variety of reasons, and the show is careful to point that out. 

Spoilers for season 3, episode 6 of "The Boys" ahead. 

A buffet of buttocks

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Eric Kripke revealed that while he wasn't on set for "Herogasm," he did watch the dailies and was in contact with the folks on set, including fellow executive producer Paul Grellong, who relayed the cast and crew's general discomfort:

"How you could have been around that much explicit nudity for that many days on a hot, stuffy, sticky film set is just ... How anyone survived it, I don't know. I asked Paul at one point, 'What's it like being there?' And he's like, 'Day 1, it's really novel and you're surrounded by all these beautiful naked people. By day 2, they're all naked mole rats and you just want to get outside.' I was like, 'That makes sense.'"

In another life I worked as a studio photographer in a mall, and we did implied nude photos fairly regularly, which usually meant the person was as naked as the day they were born and we just covered their nipples and genitals with something, usually fake flowers. Grellong's words ring true, because by the time you start seeing that much naked flesh day in and day out, it just starts to become another part of the grind regardless of your feelings on nudity otherwise. There's something about that mundanity that manages to cross from behind-the-camera to the scenes themselves, as we realize that these beautiful, powerful superheroes are all just meat sacks trying to smack up against other meat sacks like the rest of us.

Even with Herogasm, The Boys pulls no punches

What's great about "Herogasm" is that it's never once meant to be titillating to the viewer. There's plenty of nudity and sex on display, and some of the people might be incredibly attractive under different circumstances, but the entire situation feels too seedy to be sexy. Mother's Milk (Laz Alonso) points out to Starlight that there are numerous sex workers being mistreated onsite, and there are a few short instances where we see this happen. The supes care more about their hedonistic lifestyles than doing their jobs or helping people in any meaningful way, and Herogasm is just a sad culmination of their selfish desires. 

The problem isn't that they're having wild sex, it's that they don't care about who they hurt or how their behavior impacts others. It's truly sinister in a pathetic sort of way, and puts the hero worship of real-world celebrities and their treatment of groupies into a pretty uncomfortable light. Power imbalances can make consent a less black-and-white matter, and celebrities and superheroes hold incredible power over their fans. There's still plenty more opportunities for season 3 of "The Boys" to skewer cultural norms and the sacred cows of superhero cinema, but for now, "Herogasm" may be their greatest satirical accomplishment.

New episodes of "The Boys" premiere Fridays on Prime Video.