Jack Quaid as Hughie Campbell in The Boys
(Amazon Prime Video)

‘The Boys’ Showrunner Comments on Hughie’s Storyline Make It Even More Disturbing

The Boys season 4 episode 6, “Dirty Business,” included a dark and disturbing storyline for Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid). Meanwhile, showrunner Eric Kripke’s comments on the story have only added to the disturbing nature of the whole thing.

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Given that Hughie’s whole story this season has been deeply tragic, viewers likely hoped he would catch a break in the newest episode. However, just hours after spreading his father’s ashes, Hughie dons Webweaver’s (Dan Mousseau) suit and pretends to be the supe to infiltrate a party hosted by Tek Knight (Derek Wilson).

It’s not even entirely clear why this poor plan is formulated, considering A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) was at the party and could’ve relayed information to M.M.’s (Laz Alonso) team, or the Boys could’ve snuck in and stayed out of sight as themselves instead of sending one of their members into a party as a supe others would recognize and interact with. Meanwhile, the team fails to pull Hughie out as soon as they realize the Seven are at the party and that Knight, a supe detective, wants Webweaver to be his sidekick.

So, with the team still back at the headquarters, Knight leads Webweaver/Hughie to his secret lair, which turns out to be a sex dungeon. In Gen V, it was established that Knight is a sex addict with numerous bizarre fetishes. As much as viewers hope that Hughie will escape before things get dark, that’s not the case.

What happens to Hughie and Tek Knight in The Boys?

When the Boys finally decide to pull Hughie out, it’s already too late. In order to prevent his cover being blown, he goes along with Knight’s demands and is forced to participate in several sexual acts. However, what’s strange is that The Boys is clearly trying to frame the disturbing sequence of events as funny. It starts with Hughie sitting on a chocolate cake without pants on, trying to shock viewers with the absurdity of the situation.

Meanwhile, even after it successfully makes viewers uncomfortable, the storyline just keeps going. Soon, Ashley Barrett (Colby Minifie) comes down to the sex dungeon to join Knight and also begins to force Hughie into sexual acts with her while berating him. He tries to make it stop, but it turns out he needs Webweaver’s “safe word,” which he does not know. Hence, he has no way to stop the assault, even though he’s clearly in distress. Afterward, Knight realizes that Webweaver is actually Hughie and prepares to torture and murder him.

Finally, Starlight (Erin Moriarty) and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) arrive and save him. Bizarrely, they don’t even ask him what happened and whether he’s okay. None of them even apologize for putting him in that situation or seem to care about the awful things that happened to him. Only when he breaks down crying and says, “I’m not fine,” does Starlight finally show some empathy and try to comfort him.

Eric Kripke makes Hughie’s storyline even worse

Despite how disturbing The Boys’ Hughie and Knight storyline is, showrunner Eric Kripke somehow managed to make it even worse. In an interview with Variety, the interviewer questioned why the show went in that dark direction by deciding to have Hughie “sexually assaulted by his childhood hero after his dad just died.”

However, Kripke denied the disturbing nature of the scene. He stated, “Well, that’s a dark way to look at it! We view it as hilarious.” Kripke goes on to explain that it was part of Knight’s Batman parody and that the show was trying to be funny by giving him a sex cave instead of a Batcave, though he didn’t explain why it had to go so dark.

While the show certainly seemed to be trying to frame the whole situation as a joke, it’s still jarring to hear Kripke outright call the assault “hilarious.” He’s treating it as if it’s just any other wild The Boys scene utilized for laughs and shock. However, considering how infrequently male survivors of sexual assault are depicted on television, it’s horrific that Kripke actually thought this storyline should be used as a joke. There’s nothing funny about it, and it’s starting to make The Boys seem like one of those desperate “edgelord” comedians who make disturbing, ignorant, and offensive statements and then try to pass it off as a “joke.”

Given Kripke’s statement, it’s fairly safe to assume the show isn’t going to explore Hughie’s trauma in any meaningful manner, which means it never should’ve happened in the first place. It’s already bad enough when shows unintentionally mishandle an assault or abuse storyline. However, it’s wholly unforgivable when a show actually uses the storyline for laughs or shock factor in complete disregard for actual survivors.

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.