The Boys spinoff stirs controversy with jokes about Johnny Depp and PewDiePie

L to R: Lizze Broadway, Jaz Sinclair, Maddie Phillips
L to R: Lizze Broadway, Jaz Sinclair, Maddie Phillips /

The Boys, the Amazon Prime Video show about a world where superheroes are real and also amoral monsters, is known for having shocking, upsetting scenes. I could rattle off a list of examples, but I think you only need one: in the season 3 premiere, an Ant-Man-like superhero shrinks down, crawls up the penis of his lover, sneezes on some cocaine, and then accidentally grows back to his original side instantaneously, exploding out the guy’s crotch. So far as slack-jawed grossness goes, I think that’s gonna be the benchmark for a while. I’d dare them to top themselves but I don’t want to tempt them.

The Boys spinoff Gen V is following in the steps of its mothership show by featuring some memorably grisly scenes. For instance, the show revolves around a young Supe named Marie Moreau, played by Jaz Sinclair. Marie has the power to control blood. As we see, she learned about this power when she had her first period. Her powers manifested and she ended up accidentally killing both of her parents.

Apparently, executives at Amazon were a bit uncomfortable with this scene. “That was in the pilot script when I came aboard, and I think that there may have been some discomfort early on from maybe the executive side because it’s girls’ periods,” co-showrunner MIchele Fazekas told Entertainment Weekly. “When [co-showrunner Tara Butters] and I came on, it was one of the things that gripped us. I love that this is where her powers come from. It’s already, not necessarily a traumatic thing, but a very big thing in any girl’s life. To have that set off your powers [and] murder your parents really differentiates [Gen V from The Boys]. It’s like, The Boys is about ‘the boys’ and this is about a girl, a woman. I felt like, out of the gate, this is what the show is.”

Eric Kripke, the executive producer on both Gen V and The Boys, said that the origin of Marie’s powers was always in the script. “Sometimes the victims were different, sometimes it wasn’t her parents, but [it was] always the notion that with Marie’s puberty came this onset of adulthood in the most horrific way possible,” he said. “I think [that] was always really powerful. Sometimes there was some talk from higher up about: ‘Are we sure?'”

Clearly, The Boys has been successful enough for Kripke and his team to be able to plow through most objections from the executives. Although oddly enough, the things on Gen V that have generated the most controversy haven’t been bloody at all.

The Boys spinoff Gen V takes aim, maybe, at Johnny Depp and PewDiePie

At this point, American audiences are pretty used to blood and guts. It takes a lot to shock us. But taking shots at celebrities? That can still be dicey territory.

To wit, Gen V has become the subject of much discussion on Twitter over a couple of jokes about popular figures in the media. There was one joke involving Tek Knight, a kind of tech bro take on Batman. He comes to Godlokin University, the superhero college where much of Gen V is set, to make a TV show about Luke, a student who committed suicide.

Tek Knight suggests that his TV show will pick another student at the university and blame them for Luke’s death, using “misdirection” and “obfuscation” to hide the truth. Or as he puts it, “I’m gonna Johnny Depp someone so hard they’re going to want to crawl into a hole and die.”

Actor Johnny Depp has been involved in his share of scandals over the years. He and his ex-wife Amber Heard became media flashpoints last year during a heavily covered defamation trial. But is the joke a dig at Depp or a nod of support? “They probably made it deliberately vague to be open for interpretation and cause discourse, and draw attention to the show,” wrote one very wise user on X. “Everyone arguing over whether it is pro or anti Depp is what they probably wanted.”

The show also took aim at hugely popular YouTuber PewDiePie; a character who has a YouTube channel describes herself as “kind of like PewDiePie without the Nazi stuff.”

Years back, PewDiePie got mixed up in a series of scandals involving recommending extremist content, making jokes about Nazis, and things of that nature. Were they innocent jokes? Were they cover for something more sinister? Does it matter when he has an audience of tens of millions mostly young people who aren’t going to pay much attention to context? The debate continues, but that’s what Gen V is referencing.

Anyway, the joke has resulted in a fair bit of controversy on X, the internet’s haven of sanity. “It’s so incredibly funny that people are still shitting on Pewdiepie for something that happened years ago,” wrote one user. “Pewdiepie has a whole ass child, and someone in the boys’ writing room is still seething and thinking about him constantly,” writes another.

Mostly, I think it’s funny that Gen V is doing its best to shock people but has inspired the most response when it references these popular media figures. I’d recommend dunking on Taylor Swift and seeing what happens.

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h/t Digital SpyNME