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‘The Boys’ Offensive ‘Dirty Business’ Scene Just Ruined the Show

‘The Boys’ Offensive ‘Dirty Business’ Scene Just Ruined the Show

One of the standout features of The Boys is its willingness to explore extreme and often controversial themes, especially regarding sex. From a female supe accidentally causing a man’s head to explode during oral sex in Season 1, to Homelander’s violent public sex with a Nazi in Season 2, the series has pushed boundaries. The Season 3 premiere took things even further with an Ant-Man-inspired supe who crawled inside a lover’s urethra, only to mistakenly expand to normal size, resulting in a gruesome scene.

It’s clear why the show continuously ventures into such shocking territory. Each instance garners a wave of mostly positive, albeit bewildered, media attention. The series leverages its adult rating to explore concepts that family-oriented franchises like the MCU cannot touch. For example, the ingenious yet unsettling ways a character akin to Ant-Man might use his powers in intimate situations.

However, there is a fine line between shocking and excessive, and Season 4’s latest episode, “Dirty Business,” may have finally crossed it. This episode features Hughie (Jack Quaid) in a particularly unsettling situation where he is tied down and sexually tortured for a significant part of the runtime. The scenes mercifully skip the most graphic parts, but it’s evident that his tormentors, Tek Knight (Derek Wilson) and Vought CEO Ashley (Colby Minifie), inflict serious suffering on him.

Technically, this sequence isn’t an extended rape joke since Hughie is in disguise, and his tormentors believe he’s a willing participant in a BDSM scenario with a readily available safeword. However, the humor derived from Hughie’s terror and discomfort makes it effectively a rape joke. This lands it squarely in the problematic territory of using male sexual assault for comedic effect, a trope that feels both outdated and lazy.

Laz Alonso.

So, why would the writers go to such lengths to depict this unpleasant, protracted scene? The answer seems to be an attempt to rival the shocking nature of “Herogasm,” a Season 3 episode centered on a literal supe orgy. “Herogasm” featured outrageous scenes with giant penises, flying dildos, octopus sex, and MM being splashed with semen. Despite its explicit content, the episode was among the season’s best critically acclaimed, loaded with significant plot developments and character moments.

“Dirty Business,” however, lacks such depth. While there are some intriguing plot points elsewhere in the episode, like Sister Sage’s ill-timed brain damage or A-Train’s ongoing alliance with the Boys, they are minimal and insufficient to offset the disturbing content involving Hughie. The episode attempts to echo “Herogasm” with extreme gross-out moments, but without any meaningful substance to justify them.

Erin Moriarty.

The Boys has consistently utilized shock value, but Season 4 shows the cracks in this approach. The outrageous humor and gross-out moments are beginning to feel stale, revealing a more serious underlying issue: a recurring theme linking non-traditional sex acts to extreme depravity. The narrative seldom shows supes engaging in non-vanilla sex in ways that don’t end disastrously or serve as shorthand for their villainy.

More concerning is how “Dirty Business” signifies the show’s current direction with Hughie’s character. Once the show’s main focus, Hughie evolved from a meek young man to a toughened hero. Season 3 attempted to further complicate his character by making him grapple with his own desires for power, often at the expense of his humanity. While messy, it was at least a deliberate character arc. In Season 4, however, the focus seems to have shifted to inflicting as much pain on Hughie as possible without any clear narrative purpose. After dealing with his father’s dementia and euthanasia just one episode prior, seeing Hughie subjected to sexual torture feels excessive and aimless.

There is a silver lining: Annie (Erin Moriarty) and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) take Hughie’s suffering seriously. Their retaliation against Tek Knight, presumably both for the sake of information and for karmic justice, adds some depth. Tek Knight, whose deduction skills likely made him aware or suspicious of Hughie’s lack of consent, faces a narrative punishment akin to other rapists in The Boys and Gen V. Watching him strangled by his servant isn’t enough to redeem the entire storyline, but it offers a modicum of satisfaction.

“Dirty Business” should serve as a wake-up call for the show. As The Boys heads towards its fifth and final season, it’s clear that the reliance on gross-out humor is wearing thin. There’s a need for a more thoughtful approach to both character development and the use of shock value. Hopefully, the series understands that audiences have had enough of the “Herogasm”-style episodes and opts for more substantial storytelling moving forward.

Source: The Daily Beast