Home Entertainment ‘The Boys’ Kendall Jenner Pepsi advert parody, defined

‘The Boys’ Kendall Jenner Pepsi advert parody, defined

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Welcome to Thanks, I Love It, our series highlighting something onscreen we’re obsessed with this week.


The Boys never backs down from bold satire that spotlights the relationship between capitalism, our obsession with superheroes, and American white supremacy. But its latest parody from Season 3, Episode 4’s “Glorious Five Year Plan” set its laser beam sights on a new yet related target: celebrity culture.

In a hilarious almost shot-for-shot recreation of Kendall Jenner’s infamous 2017 Pepsi commercial (which was immediately pulled after backlash), The Boys used speedster superhero A-Train as a stand-in for the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star.

Like the model in the IRL ad, A-Train witnesses a potential clash between police in tactical gear and peaceful protestors, who appear representative of the Black Lives Matter movement. Evoking the now familiar and disturbing videos from social media showing cops brutalizing BLM protestors, the tension is abruptly ended by the celebrity interceding with only good vibes and a refreshing beverage.

Both the original ad and its parody culminate in an absurdist celebration of unity between cops and the people protesting the wanton murder of innocent civilians, with The Boys even adding an extra cringe line from A-Train about needing to “listen to each other.”

While the parody seems simple enough, small changes and the context surrounding A-Train’s character arc reveal why The Boys remains one of the sharpest satires of American society on TV right now.

The meaning behind The Boys‘ Pepsi commercial parody

The parody points to more than the gross commodification of social justice movements by the forces of oppression they’re trying to fight against. The Boys also shows how on-screen representation of marginalized people can sometimes be a double-edged sword.

As the only Black superhero admitted into the Avengers-style dream team The Seven, A-Train has faced a perpetual onslaught of outright racism at every level. But the privilege of wealth and celebrity makes him feel like he’s above this kind of life-or-death fight for racial justice. He encourages his corporate overlords to further exploit him as a smokescreen for progress to distract from its real-world evil. He even pitches a rebrand that leans into the “trendiness” of social justice, complete with a costume redesign centered around the Pan-African flag colors.

But this parody ad catches A-Train at a time when his celebrity is waning — along with the false sense of security that he’s personally safe from the increasingly violent white supremacist forces taking over Vought, the mega-corporation that controls The Seven. Slowly, he begins to realize how the superhero narratives and all-powerful impunity Vought grants its predominantly white Übermenschen directly causes racial violence. Namely, one of A-Train’s cousins warns of one superhero whose over-policing of their neighborhood lead to the murder of an innocent Black man. A-Train’s revelation mimics the reckoning that TV shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine tried to have after the 2020 uprisings, after many pointed to the connection between copaganda and police brutality.

But evidently for A-Train, it’s hard to let go of the safety that being part of The Seven seemingly provides. He continues to waver in his commitment to doing anything about it all when the opportunity to be welcomed back into the fold arises.

The parody also successfully expands the show’s critique of American capitalism and authoritarianism to more than just superheroes. Marvel and DC’s toxic fandoms aren’t the only ones complicit in the symbiotic relationship between American pop culture and white supremacy. Celebrity worship of figures like the Kardashian-Jenner clan is part of it too, especially when you consider how that family’s trademark beauty aesthetic appropriates Black culture. The entertainment industry as a whole both reflects and shapes our nation’s collective values. So it’s no wonder why America’s biggest idols — whether influencers or superheroes — are often ideals entrenched in bigotry.

While The Boys‘ parody of Kendall’s tone-deaf Pepsi ad is only a few minutes long, it packs more punch and understanding of its underlying issues than any other attempt. Saturday Night Live, a longstanding titan of comedic satire, made its own parody back in 2017. But it lacked all the teeth, wit, and critique that The Boys has accomplished.

Few others have nailed America’s recent backslide into white supremacist fascism quite like The Boys. So far, Season 3 has only heightened that superpower, making it one of the most essential watches of the year — regardless of whether or not you’re into the whole superhero thing.

The Boys (opens in a new tab)is streaming on Prime Video.(opens in a new tab)





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