The Boys Season 3: All the Real Life References

Is the existence of Amazon canon in The Boys universe? Season 3 answers that question and many more. Follow along with all the real life references this season.

Mother's Milk (Laz Alonso), Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara), and Hughie (Jack Quaid) in The Boys season 3
Photo: Prime Video

This article contains spoilers for The Boys season 3.

As we’re fond of pointing out around here, no other show on television understands superhero culture and the effect of its prevalence on our world than The Boys.

In The Boys season 3, the show’s satirical take on the Western entertainment landscape remains incisive and insightful. This season finds Homelander making good on Antony Starr’s promise to become a “homicidal maniac” and in the process the world that Vought created begins to resemble our own more closely than ever before.

Still, one can’t help but wonder just how closely the world of The Boys hews towards reality. Does The Boys‘ canon have the same succession of American presidents that we do? Does the presence of fictional mega corporation Vought preclude the existence of real life monoliths like Google, Meta, and even The Boys‘ parent network Amazon? The show makes very clear that Billy Joel exists but what about Britney Spears? WHAT ABOUT BRITNEY SPEARS?!?!?

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Thankfully, The Boys season 3 answers many of those pressing questions. It’s now clear that The Boys’ universe mirrors our own more than one might even have expected. Here are all the references to the “real world” that we spotted in The Boys season 3. Follow along with us throughout the season and be sure to point out any references that we may have missed.

Episode 1 – Payback

Dawn of the 7

The Boys season 3 opens up with one hell of a homage. As teased last season, Vought Corporation has produced their own blockbuster superhero film called Dawn of the 7 a la The Avengers or Justice League, Zack Snyder’s or otherwise. Naturally the events surrounding the film contain many real world references like…

  • Playing Nazi supe Stormfront is none other than Charlize Theron! This marks the second major Charlize Theron cameo in a superhero property in as any months. Does this mean that Charlize Theron is also a part of the MCU in The Boys‘ universe? Does Marvel even exist in The Boys‘ universe? That’s unclear.
  • Fictional director Adam Bourke (P.J. Byrne) had to reshoot the whole film after Stormfront’s true nature came to light. Thankfully they really paid off and fans are excited to see “The Bourke Cut” just as they were excited to see the Snyder Cut in our world. Snyder himself even had some fun with the concept on Twitter when The Boys‘ marketing campaign revealed this little detail.
  • Speaking of Bourke, at the Dawn of the 7 red carpet premiere he is wearing a “Tyrell Corp” t-shirt under his jacket. Good to know that Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner exists in The Boys.
  • All of the TV stations that interview Homelander are fictional, including the Spanish-language station “Voughtemundo!” This may be The Boys‘ version of Telemundo!
  • “Shitty fucking director. Tony Gilroy had to reshoot all your shit!” Ashley tells Bourke as they uh…aggressively copulate in the bathroom. It looks like Gilroy, who reshot much of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is every bit as real as Ridley Scott.

Amazon

Finally! Confirmation that Amazon exists in the Boys‘ universe. Butcher (Karl Urban) uses his Amazon app to purchase Connect Four to play with his adopted son Ryan. Amazing that a fictional Amazon exists in The Boys and somehow did not get the rights to The Boys like it did in our own world.

The Termite Scene

Look, we don’t want to relive this traumatizing scene any more than you do. But the explosive penile moment and its aftermath do contain some real life references.

  • For starters, The Boys showrunner Eric Kripke confirmed to Den of Geek that this scene was partially inspired by the Avengers fan meme that mused as to why Ant-Man didn’t just shrink, enter into Thanos’s butt, and then expand. The Boys had already done a butt explosion in season 1 though. “Once you take the butt off the table there’s really truly only so many more orifices you can go with,” Kripke notes.
  • After the spectacularly traumatizing event, Hughie (Jack Quaid) is told that they can’t prosecute Termite because he just got a lucrative endorsement deal with Terminix, a real pest control company that is surely thrilled to now be associated with violent phalic death.
  • Vicki (Claudia Doumit) notes that Butcher fed Termite a “metric-Belushi of coke”, referring to the tragic overdose of John Belushi.

Starlight and Hughie

  • Starlight (Erin Moriarty) wears a Billy Joel shirt to bed, undoubtedly one of Hughie’s as he adores the Long Island pianist.
  • Joel’s “Uptown Girl” then scores the duo’s morning routine.
  • Hughie and Starlight debate the merits of brushing with real life toothpaste Aquafresh or real life vaginal health cream Monistat.

The Church of The Collective

With its founder missing (and in reality dead), the cultish Church of The Collective doesn’t make an appearance in season 3 yet. There are still many references to the church and its veiled comparisons to Scientology though.

  • The Deep (Chace Crawford) and his new wife Cassandra say they’re pleased to have escaped “that fucking cult.”
  • The Deep notes that Malcolm Gladwell (very much a real guy) dubbed him the next Leah Remini, the actress who in our world became notable for leaving Scientology and investigating its alleged misdeeds.
  • The Deep is an author now, though Shia LaBeouf’s ghostwriter wrote his whole book.
  • Vanity Fair calls The Deep “the thinking man’s superhero.”

Butcher and Company

  • Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) gets his daughter what appears to be an oversized Flavor Flav-style clock necklace for her birthday.
  • Mother’s Milk is also now taking Lexapro as prescribed. In our world, Lexapro is a generic SSRI used to treat depression and anxiety.
  • “Oi! Stevie Fucking Wonder! Will you knock it off?” Butcher (Karl Urban) says to Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) as she plays the piano.

Politics

  • Presidential candidate Robert Singer a.k.a. Dakota Bob (Jim Beaver) notes that Vought CEO Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) made a generous contribution to his Super PAC. PACs (Political Action Committees) are real life campaign donation structures that allow candidates to receive money from donors. Super PACs in particular allow for candidates to receive an unlimited amount of money from corporations, unions, associations, and individuals to campaign with. The “catch” is that the political candidates themselves cannot coordinate with these PACs but as Dakota Bob reveals here, they obviously find a way to do so anyway.
  • Dakota Bob also reveals that Black Noir did something to a Hard Rock Cafe in Lagos that should have him brought up on war crimes.

Food

  • The Boys’ new headquarters is in the historic Flatiron Building and is well stocked with Doritos and Cheez-Its for snacking purposes.
  • A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) is drinking a shake from Shake Shack, something that Homelander immediately fat shames him for.

Episode 2 – The Only Man in the Sky

The Church of The Collective (Again)

This episode opens with more references to the fictional Church of the Collective that compare it to the very real Scientology.

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  • Not Without My Dolphin, The Deep’s show on VTV, has real life actor Billy Zane playing missing church leader Alistair Adana.
  • “You have become a toxic personality” Zane’s Adana tells The Deep. This is likely a not-so-veiled reference to Scientology’s concept of SP’s or Suppressive Persons.

Homelander’s Birthday

  • Homelander’s birthday celebration has quite the impressive list of guests including: Emeril Lagasse, Rascal Flatts, Dame Judy Dench, and the cast of Riverdale.
  • Homelander drops the “C” word (as in “cancel”) during his rant to the audience at episode’s end. He also adds in some Trumpian rhetoric: “I don’t make mistakes. I’m not just like the rest of you. I’m better! If they can control me, you can bet your ass they can control you.”

U.S. Presidents

  • Hanging above Stormfront’s hospital bed is a portrait of George Washington. This suggests that the Boys‘ universe’s American presidential history remains the same as our own through at least Ronald Reagan (who shows up later in this episode via stock footage).
  • “We’re gonna need a bit more ‘JFK just got rimmed out by Marilyn Monroe’ version,” Homelander revoltingly tells Starlight of his requested happy birthday song.

Voughtland 

Vought’s very own theme park is filled with many real life references that reveal the company is trying its hardest to appeal to progressive consumers, including:

  • Brave Maeve’s Inclusive Kingdom
  • Brave Maeve’s Veggie Tacos
  • BLM BLTs
  • Woke Wok
  • LGBTurkey Legs

Soldier Boy Throughout History

The little film that plays in the theater at Voughtland reveals that Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) was a prominent figure throughout The Boys‘ history…and our own.

  • Soldier Boy supposedly participated in the Allies’ activities in World War II.
  • During the Joseph McCarthy-led Red Scare of the 1950s, Soldier Boy happily provided Congress with a list of “avowed communists.”
  • Soldier Boy had his photo taken with luminaries like Ronald Reagan, Hugh Hefner, and Princess Diana.

Media

  • “I want to get back in touch with my roots…like in Roots,” A-Train says of his new look, referring to the classic 1976 novel and 1977 miniseries about the trans Atlantic slave trade.
  • Stan Edgar reads the children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day to Victoria Neuman’s daughter.
  • “Don’t be afraid of the zoom, you’re not Roger Deakins,” Ashley says to her cameraman, referring to the legendary cinematographer of films like 1917, Skyfall, and No Country for Old Men.
  • Ashley appears to be quite the film buff actually. Upon learning that Stormfront committed suicide via biting her tongue she remarks that she “Million Dollar Baby‘ed herself”
  • Ryan makes an incredible stop-motion animation short for Butcher using LEGO.

The Gun Show

References to America’s gun culture and political landscape abound during Butcher’s visit to the Vought Rifle Association (VRA) gun show to blackmail Gunpowder (Sean Patrick Flannery)

  • Gunpowder tells his audience that Robert Singer is going to follow the “George Soros globalist playbook” if elected president. George Soros is billionaire businessman and philanthropist in our world whose political donations are the subject of many right wing conspiracy theories. 
  • Someone shouts “fake news” as Gunpowder mentions the media.
  • Gunpowder acknowledges that he and his kind at the VRA are “The Silent Majority” a term popularized by Richard Nixon in the U.S. and used again during Donald Trump’s presidential campaigns.
  • Gunpowder’s book is titled “Triggered.”
  • Vought manufactures a gun called the VR-15, which sounds similar to the controversial semi-automatic rifle AR-15 in our world.

Episode 3 – Barbary Coast

Little Miss Hero Pageant

The flashback to Starlight’s time on the Vought International pageant circuit provides a couple of real life references.

  • The whole ordeal is sponsored by State Farm Insurance which really makes me wonder if State Farm actually lent their name to The Boys for this purpose.
  • The song that little Annie January dances to is “…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears.

Music

Speaking of Britney Spears, this episode features several other prominent songs and musical artists that apparently exist in both our world and The Boys.

  • Mother’s Milk wears an NWA shirt.
  • “They chauffeuring you around, huh? Like you Rihanna,” A-Train’s brother asks him.
  • Payback’s arrival song back in the ’80s is Scorpion’s “Rock You Like a Hurricane.”

Nicaragua

While a lot of Grace Mallory’s (Laila Robins) Nicaragua recollections are fictional (like the part with, you know, the superheroes) a surprisingly chunk of it is based on real events and rumors.

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  • For starters, Butcher notes that Mallory has a picture of George H.W. Bush in her office. So we can safely extend The Boys‘ continuity of presidents through #41.
  • Operation Charly, or the reason Grace was in Nicaragua in the first place, is basically completely real. In the 1970s and ’80s both the Argentinian and American governments funded and supported right wing movements in Central America to prevent socialist parties from taking power amid the height of the Cold War. The operation purportedly began during the Nicaraguan Revolution between 1977 and 1979.
  • Grace makes note of “Oliver North’s epic fuck up.” This is referring to the Iran-Contra affair – a political scandal in which the Reagan administration secretly sold weapons to Iran and used the money to fund Contras (right wing rebels) in Nicaragua.
  • Mother’s Milk calls out Grace for another unsavory part of her role in Nicaragua – the purchase of the Contra’s plentiful cocaine. Mother’s Milk alleges and Grace confirms that the CIA sold all of that excess cocaine into minority neighborhoods in the U.S. to disrupt and destabilize them. This is based on several similar, reputable allegations in our world.
  • “They don’t belong in a war zone. They belong on That’s Incredible!” Grace says of her unwanted Payback soldiers. She is referring to an American reality TV show about unusual individuals and paranormal phenomena akin to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not from the 1980s.

Media

  • Soldier Boy tells Grace Mallory that his charms worked on Loni Anderson, an actress best known for her role as Jennifer Marlowe on WKRP in Cincinnati.
  • “I’m Michael Jordan. I’m not Malcolm X,” A-Train says of his public image.
  • It is revealed that Frenchie’s (Tomer Capon) safe word is “Vincent Cassel”, the name of a prominent French actor.

Bigotry

Yeah it’s awkward to have “Bigotry” as an H3 on an article about real world cultural references but regrettably the concept is a major part of The Boys‘ world and our own.

  • Homelander balks at selecting a Muslim hero on The Seven referring to Silver Kincaid as “Captain Al Qaeda”. Not only is this cruel but it also likely acknowledges the existence of the September 11 terrorist attacks in The Boys. In fact, The Boys comic actually depicts Homelander and the Seven failing to prevent 9/11.
  • New supe Blue Hawk is notable to over-policing minority neighborhoods as are many police departments in our world.
  • Homelander firmly establishes himself as an ultra douche by comparing himself to Martin Luther King Jr. He is adamant that they know each other’s struggles because it feels good to be “free at last.”

Episode 4: Glorious Five Year Plan

Solid Gold

Soldier Boy’s appearance on ’80s variety show Solid Gold is a veritable treasure trove of real life references.

  • For starters, Solid Gold is a real thing. The show ran on Saturday nights from 1980 through 1988 and sought to present its audience with cutting edge pop music like other more popular series American Bandstand and Soul Train. On Solid Gold, however, the music came along with a garish gold set and weirdly indulgent aerobics dance routines.
  • Solid Gold really was hosted by Marilyn McCoo. And believe it or not, all the musical acts that feature on Soldier Boy’s episode are also real: Kim Carnes, The Oak Ridge Boys, and Wayland Flowers.
  • The song Soldier Boy sings is “Rapture” by Blondie.

Homelander as Trump

Look, I don’t like ruining the vibes by bringing up specific politicians any more than you guys do (specifically ones as loathsome as the former U.S. President) but in this episode there’s really no way around it. Homelander is Donald Trump. The amount of Trump references the show throws Homelander’s way does raise an interesting question though. From last week’s episodes, we know the U.S. presidents remain the same in this world through George W. Bush. Given that Homelander keeps replicating 45 does that mean neither he nor Barack Obama served as president in this world? I suppose we shall see.

  • On his Cameron Coleman appearance, Homelander decries lies from “the mainstream media.”
  • Despite being the most powerful man on Earth, Homelander also discusses the evils of the “Deep State,” saying: “For the most part, they’re people you’ve never heard of. They operate in the shadows. Unfortunately they’re everywhere. Even here inside of Vought.”
  • In my personal biggest laugh of the episode, and perhaps the season, Homelander welcomes Supersonic to the 7 with taco bowls. Sound familiar?
  • Homelander responds approvingly to The Deep’s assertion that “don’t we need more superheroes, not less?” A line that should resonate to any American who lived through the George Floyd protests and their subsequent police response.
  • Homelander also notes that he has the same base as Blue Hawk and they want to see him be tough on crime.

Media

Several specific media entities are mentioned in this week’s episode.

  • Cameron Coleman alludes to a New York Times article about how scary it was to see The Homelander unhinged. He dilutes it down by saying the paper “viciously attacked his birthday telecast.”
  • Homelander and Starlight got “Hottest Ship” in the latest issue of Rolling Stone.
  • We already knew “Black Lives Matter” was a movement in this world thanks to the introduction of Vought’s BLM BLTs last week but Ashley makes it extra official this week. “A-Train, Black Lives Matter is literally my favorite hashtag. My insta? Nothing but black screens.” 

Movies

  • As pointed out by commenter John Horner last week, Hughie is still wearing a Last Waltz shirt. Directed by Martin Scorsese, this concert film captures the last-ever performance by rock group The Band on Thanksgiving Day, 1976.
  • “You look like Ashton Kutcher fucked a clownfish,” A-Train tells The Deep.
  • When knocking out nameless Russian guards, Mother’s Milk taunts them with the names of popular Cold War era movies like Red Dawn and Rocky IV.

Russia

Speaking of Red Dawn and Rocky IV, it’s clear that the U.S.’s fraught relationship with Russia has carried over into The Boys‘ universe. If anything, the introduction of corporate American superheroes appears to have made the Red Scare and the Cold War even hotter.

  • Billy Butcher compliments Little Nina (Katia Winter) in a way that only Butcher can, saying: “I thought you and your mates at the Kremlin might be able to help out. The way I heard it, you filmed a couple of punters from the Interior Ministry having a right old frolic under your golden shower.” This is, of course, a reference to the mythical real life “pee tape” and the KGB’s penchant for collecting embarrassing kompromat (blackmail material) on its enemies.
  • There’s quite a bit of anti-Homelander and anti-7 graffiti in Moscow, which begs the question, both a holdover from Cold War era bitterness and a sign that Vought’s heroes aren’t particularly popular worldwide.
  • Hughie watches a lot of Russian TV but none of the channels appear to be real.
  • As Kimiko kills a whole bunch of Russian goons, we are entreated to the sounds of a Russian-language cover of “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor.

Food

  • A-Train’s cringey Turbo Rush commercial is straight out of the real world. Who could forget Kylie Jenner’s equally cringey Pepsi commercial in which she solved racism and police brutality with the magic of a sugary, carbonated drink? Like Homelander and Trump though, this begs the question: is Turbo Rush replacing Pepsi in The Boys universe? Or was A-Train inspired by the commercial?
  • When Homelander delivers Compound V to Victoria Neuman, he says it’s the “original recipe, all 11 herbs and spices.” This is referring to Kentucky Fried Chicken’s famous marketing campaign.

Episode 5 – The Last Time to Look On This World of Lies

The Legend

The introduction of Vought’s old VP of hero management, The Legend (Paul Reiser), leads to many references from our own world.

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  • For starters, Mother’s Milk jokes that “this ain’t Grubhub, motherfucker” when The Legend doesn’t want to open the door.
  • The Legend knows a lot of celebrities…like a lot. The list includes: Burt Reynolds, Roy Scheider, Kelly LeBrock, Shannon Tweed, and more.
  • The Legend was penetrated by Marlon Brando at the Marathon Man premiere. One of the most talented actors to ever live, Brando was openly bisexual.
  • According to the Legend, Soldier Boy starred in a romance movie alongside a teenage Phoebe Cates when he was in his 60s. He says it was no different from “Sean Connery fucking Catherine Zeta Jones.” He’s likely referring to the 1999 film Entrapment which featured a 30-year age gap between the two actors.
  • The Legend says Hughie should “Google” something. This brings The Boys‘ acknowledged “Big Four” tech companies up to three: Facebook, Alphabet (Google), and Amazon. As far as we can tell, the only one left to not be referenced is Apple.

Drugs and Alcohol

So far this season, The Boys has enjoyed some sex and violence. But the third spoke of the vice trinity, drugs, has been underrepresented. That changes this week.

  • The cover story for Supersonic’s death is that he OD’ed on cocaine. It was previously revealed that Supersonic was addicted to opiates in his past (a victim of the opioid crisis, perhaps?) so him being felled by some measly old cocaine is a pretty weak coverup.
  • Speaking of addiction and coverups, Maeve is supposedly sent to the Global Wellness Retreat in Malibu for her alcoholism. That is not a real location but is undoubtedly based on many rehabs and wellness clinics in Southern California.
  • Starlight burns through some delicious product-placed White Claws.
  • Mother’s Milk is “roofied” by Butcher. That term is slang for the pernicious date rape drug Rohypnol.

Music

  • Hughie, ever the musical lad, is now wearing a Hall & Oates T-shirt.
  • This is the much-hyped “musical” episode of The Boys and Kimiko and Frenchie’s dance down a hospital corridor doesn’t disappoint. The whole thing is scored to “I Got Rhythm” – a seminal jazz classic composed by the George Gershwin which first premiered in the musical Girl Crazy.

Movies

Hughie takes over from Ashley as this week’s cinephile, delivering the following two lines:

  • “If a guy in a car gives me a dirty look. I’m like Dom Torretto, because I’m quick and I’m all about family.”
  • “I know it’s sketchy. I’ve seen Trainspotting.”

Politics

The Boys‘s political references continue this week down to calling out senators by name, suggesting yet again our two worlds are uncomfortably close.

  • Ashley gets a note of congratulations on her CEO job from none other than South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham. The ass-kisser.
  • “You know it’s actually racist to call somebody racist. What is this? Is this like a canceled thing?” Blue Hawk asks A-Train. He also follows that up with an “All lives matter” before destroying a community center. Naturally ANTIFA is blamed.
  • Mother’s Milk’s ex-wife’s new boyfriend, Todd, has some interesting articles about Homelander not being a fascist that he could send to MM on Facebook.
  • CNN anchor Jake Tapper is referenced.
  • Stormfront’s group of supporters is active on (where else) 4chan.

Supe Porn Platinum

  • Crimson Countess sexually performs on a supe-themed cam site. We assume OnlyFans is around in this world as well but when you’ve got super-powered individuals running around it will surely lead to some revolutionary porn.
  • Seth Rogen plays one of the Countess’s clients, “Sir-cums-a-lot-779” but he actually might just be playing Seth Rogen because he mentions starring opposite the Outbreak monkey.

Episode 6: Herogasm

The Imagine Video

Despite being named for the event that everyone has long been waiting for, “Herogasm” opens up with a reference to one of pop culture’s most cringey recent artifacts. Yes, The Boys does its own version of Gal Gadot’s “Imagine” video. “Starring” in said video is: The Deep, Patton Oswalt, A-Train, Josh Gad, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Elizabeth Banks, Kumail Nanjiani, Aisha Tyler, Rose Byrne, Black Noir.

Soldier Boy Is Old

“Herogasm” has a lot of fun playing around with some old references to highlight just how ancient Soldier Boy is.

  • “The two were like Kurt and Goldie,” Ashley says of Soldier Boy and Crimson Countess. She is referring to Hollywood soulmates Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.
  • Soldier Boy mentions he misses “bennies” as they were wired to the gills with them on D-Day. Benzedrine was the brand name for amphetamine sulphate. Yes, basically meth. It killed some folks.
  • “That’s like killing Emmanuel Lewis,” Soldier Boy says, referring to the diminutive star of the ’80s sitcom Webster.
  • “I’ll stand by our Mujahideen brothers to the end,” Solider says in a clip from one of his films. This is a humorous reference to the fact that the U.S. once supported its modern day antagonists against the Soviets in their Afghan War. Notably, Rambo III features the meme-worthy text at its conclusion reading “This Film Is Dedicated To The Brave Mujahideen Fighters of Afghanistan.”
  • That same movie clip features a “Wilhelm Scream,” a famous audio track of a scream that is included as an Easter egg in many action films.
  • Oh no. Soldier Boy, no … “Bill Cosby is America’s dad and he wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that. Cos, that’s a real man. Holy shit did he make some strong drinks.”

Miscellaneous

There are a lot of other smaller references in this episode that don’t fit neatly into one of our usual categorizations. They include:

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  • Kimiko texts Frenchie that she wants to watch Singin’ in the Rain next.
  • Vought-a-Burger is clearly a take on Texas burger chain Whataburger.
  • Soldier Boy is wearing a New York Giants baseball jersey (meaning a baseball version jersey of the football team, not the actual New York Giants baseball team of old).
  • “Yahtzee!” the mirror version of Homelander tells himself.
  • Vicki Neuman says that most of her Congressional peers (that she killed) loved to pass around deep fakes of her blowing Osama bin Laden.
  • Homelander’s assertion that Soldier Boy isn’t back feels quite a bit like the climate change debate. And it’s best captured by Blue Hawk condescendingly telling Starlight “I just feel that you could be a little better informed.”
  • I doubt the TNT Twins still have a TiVo. “TiVO” is now just the generic name that boomers give to the ability to pause their TV.
  • Starlight reveals Vought’s secrets on a session of Instagram Live.

New episodes of The Boys season 3 premiere each Friday on Prime Video, culminating with the finale on July 8.