Historically pirates are among the most ruthless, violent, and destructive humans to have traversed the planet. Thieves, rapists, mercenaries, murderers, and worse combinations of all the above, the fact they’ve been romanticized is one of the odder pop-culture moments to have emerged, one that will not quit. And then came HBO’s Our Flag Means Death, a show that is as anachronistic as it is absolutely wonderful.
With the bloody history of global piracy in mind, Our Flag Means Death takes every truth about pirates and uses them to dismantle notions of toxic masculinity one by one. And it’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen in my life.
Equal parts absurd, hilarious, and heartwrenching, Our Flag Means Death combines beautifully hilarious writing with moving performances that create a tapestry unlike anything else that exists. Like, how?! In todays age of constant remakes and reboots and requels and franchises, how did something so perfectly original emerge from the much of all the sameness? It feels like a small miracle. And the fact that this isn’t just a show about pirates, it’s a show about 🌈gay🌈 pirates, only makes it all the more magical. All the actors understand the assignment, and play their parts impeccably. Every time I think I must have dreamed it I open up HBO and there it is, the narrative about nurturing masculinity I’ve been craving for the longest time.
But it’s not just a gay pirate show. The women and nonbinary pirates (NONBINARY PIRATES, Y’ALL!) are beyond enchanting, especially Leslie Jones as Spanish Jackie and Vico Ortiz as Jim. It’s also a show that’s hugely critical of military industrial complexes and colonization, which even features an episode in St Augustine, Florida, the site of the first colonial genocides on USian soil by Spanish and then French invaders. St Augustine is also the site of the actual first “Thanksgiving” meal between the indigenous Timucuan and the Spanish settler colonizers who eventually wiped them out entirely.
All of this is weirdly and thoughtfully wrapped in the love story between Blackbeard (Taika Waititi) and Stede Bonnett (Rhys Darby).
And did I mention it’s hilarious? I don’t know how Our Flag Means Death manages to be everything in just 18 30-minute episodes. But it is.
✨Fuckery/5 stars. Highly recommend organizing a Calypso Night.✨
🦃ThanksKilling Terrors 2023 is the newest installment of my Horrorthon365 project, eclectic and unexpected genre watchlists with accompanying microreviews to suit the changing seasons. Horrorthon365 was sparked by a gnarly hand injury and surgery gone awry, hence the flash-style reviews. Browse the entire collection here. 🍗