Movie Reviews

The Boys Season 4's Rotten Audience Score Explained: What's Really Going On


  • The Boys Season 4’s audience score on Rotten Tomatoes has sharply declined, but critics still give it high marks at 95%.
  • Some viewers criticize season 4 for lacking convincing dialogue and plot inconsistencies, affecting its overall reception.
  • The show’s overt right-wing criticism and real-world parallels to fascism and political divides are clear in season 4.

The Boys is one of Amazon Prime Video’s most popular series, but its audience score for season 4 is a bit of a head-scratcher. When it premiered in 2019, arguably at pop culture’s superhero saturation point, The Boys received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike for its searing satire, over-the-top-yet-blunt approach to violence, and pitch-perfect dark comedy. While The Boys‘ second and third outings continued that trend, the most recent installment has divided audiences. Currently, The Boys season 4 boasts a 51% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes — the show’s lowest score yet.

Reviews from critics tell a completely different story. With a 95% aggregate score, The Boys season 4 is the third-highest-rated, beating out the first season by ten percentage points. While the second and third seasons — they stand at 97% and 98% respectively — were the show’s critical peak, audiences’ aggregate reviews have been trending downward since The Boys season 1. Nonetheless, The Boys season 4’s incredibly divided reviews mark a very sharp decline, leaving viewers to wonder what, exactly, is going on with Eric Kripke’s deft superhero satire.

The Boys Season 4’s Rotten Audience Score Is Not A True Reflection Of Its Quality

The Show’s Fourth Outing Faced A Sharp Decline In Audience Reviews

While all reviews are subjective, the sharp and sudden decline in The Boys‘ Rotten Tomatoes audience score definitely raises some red flags. The Boys season 4 might not be the show’s best outing, but it’s also not markedly “worse” than its predecessors. Some viewers have expressed concerns over the show’s less-convincing dialogue and characterization, while others have pointed to plot inconsistencies. For example, the near-omnipotent Homelander (Anthony Starr) being able to sniff out other characters and see through almost anything raises questions about how Hughie (Jack Quaid) was able to hide out in an overhead duct.

The Boys
season 4 is experiencing the opposite problem [that usually plagues split reviews…]

The Boys season 4 is also far from the first time a show or movie has seen audiences’ and critics’ scores standing so far apart on the review scale. When it comes to popcorn movies and action-heavy romps, critics are often doling out lower scores, while audiences are a little more willing to enjoy the pure entertainment factor. While that’s something of a generalization, it is notable that The Boys season 4 is experiencing the opposite problem. Critics are still enjoying the black comedy and satire, while viewers seem less enthused by the show’s signature formula (via Rotten Tomatoes).


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Season 4 Contains The Boys’ Most Overt Right-Wing Criticism Yet

Homelander & Starlight’s Supporters Echo Real-Life Political Divides

The series follows Billy Butcher’s (Karl Urban) team of vigilantes as they take down “Supes” who abuse their powers and platforms. Butcher and Hughie are motivated by personal loss, so those tragedies are more central to the show’s first few seasons. However, The Boys has always been a political series. In addition to satirizing the tropes of the superhero genre, The Boys is a cautionary tale about hero and celebrity worship — especially when that adoration intersects with politics. Vought International, the corporation that creates, funds, markets, and monetizes Supes, is clearly a stand-in for real-life media conglomerates.

The Boys
casts its story in a fantastical mold, with Homelander and Starlight becoming the faces of two opposing movements, its critiques are clear…

As The Seven seize control of the business people who puppet them, the targets of The Boys‘ criticism shifts a bit. Homelander, a bigoted and narcissistic Supe who thinks himself a god, reminds his son, Ryan (Cameron Crovetti), that humans exist for their amusement. The Supe vs. human conflict, and the vitriolic arguments that stem from the issue, reflect real-world conflicts regarding racism, homophobia, and sexism. Homelander has been an avatar of fascism for a while, but this season makes that crystal clear. Though The Boys casts its story in a fantastical mold, with Homelander and Starlight becoming the faces of two opposing movements, its critiques are far more overt in season 4.


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Other Shows Have Received Negative Reactions Due To Being “Too Woke”

Star Wars’ The Acolyte Has Recently Been Criticized For Similar Reasons

The Boys isn’t the only series to receive backlash for being too “woke” as it attempts to bring more diversity to its cast and story. The Acolyte, a Star Wars series that centers on High Republic-era Jedi and characters, received glowing reviews from critics, only to be torn down by audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. While some of the criticism leveraged against The Acolyte references legitimate plot, character, or continuity concerns, some viewers are taking aim at the series for its more inclusive casting and themes. Ultimately, these storytelling decisions can incite online backlash that manifests in audience scores.


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The Boys Season 4 Proves The Problem With RT Audience Scores

Rotten Tomatoes Democratizes Voices But Can Also Platform Unfair Critiques

If anything, The Boys is a great case study of why Rotten Tomatoes is a flawed platform. As the Amazon Prime Video series’ critiques of its in-universe far-right politics and supremacist figures — like Homelander — become more overt, the backlash only grows. Instead of focusing on narrative missteps, performances, and writing, viewers seemingly judge a show less on quality and more on whether it boasts what they deem “palatable” political views. Again, critiques are subjective and The Boys season 4 shouldn’t be immune to evaluation, but how that media criticism is forming is concerning.

The Boys Season 4’s Rotten Audience Score Proves The Show’s Point

The Internet Reaction To The Boys Is Actually A Meta Moment

The Boys season 4 sees Starlight and Homelander struggling with their public personas. For example, if Homelander saves someone, onlookers cheer, but if he kills someone in broad daylight, onlookers cheer. While the Supe has always privately abused his powers and privilege, the self-serving Homelander is no longer accountable to anyone — not Vought or the public. As Homelander supporters voice their backlash online, they are unable to see past their own narratives, further augmenting the toxic political environment. In many ways, The Boys season 4 is attracting the very attention and behaviors it’s trying to highlight.

New episodes of

The Boys

season 4 air on Thursdays through July 18.

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