Our Flag Means Death is a dark romantic comedy set in the golden age of piracy, streaming on HBO Max. Produced by and starring Taika Waititi, the story follows Stede Bonnet, a real historical figure nicknamed “the gentleman pirate”, and his time as captain with the real-life Blackbeard. The first season is now completed, and while the show is rooted in actual historic events, the writers have taken many creative liberties. The inaugural season will make you laugh out loud as often as it’ll break your heart!
Much praise has been given to the diversity and representation that this show exudes. The first season has three separate queer relationships, none of which focus on queer struggles. Each is presented like any other TV relationship, providing the audience with a much-needed break from the traumatic queer stories that networks seem so fond of. The cast is incredibly diverse, even featuring a canonically non-binary character, a very rare occurrence in mainstream media. Another plus, this character is not used as a token, rather, they have a full story arc that is not focused on their gender identity, but on personal struggles relating to their family legacy.
Taika Waititi has done a phenomenal job creating a story loaded with fun antics and comedy, (plus a bit of pillaging and looting) while also telling a deeper story. Now, this style isn’t restricted to Our Flag Means Death. It’s a tactic famously used in Waititi’s others movies, such as Jojo Rabbitt, even Thor: Ragnarok. The season starts out as silly as one would expect, but in time, it evolves into a story about finding the courage to forgive yourself and let others in, while also letting someone get to know and cherish the real you. Throughout, you watch as the two main characters fall in love with each other, yes, but learn to love themselves as well. Still, as Taika Waititi does, any good self-reflection must be accompanied by conflict-bound hardships.
Since the show has just concluded, it has yet to be renewed for a second season. Although, due to the overwhelmingly positive response it has gotten, I believe it is only a matter of time before we get the news. Our Flag Means Death weaves a necessary queer love story among the chaos of the open seas. This is a wonderful show with fantastic representation and even better humor, but it also tells a deeper story that emerges from the upbeat and colorful exterior of the show. I loved every single episode of the first season and have my fingers crossed for a second!