Our Flag Means Death is Undeniably Fantastic

A silly, swashbuckling riot encapsulates the masses


 In the modern era of television, streaming services have taken over the entire landscape of the industry; rather than wondering when a show will be on what channel at what time, we wonder whether a show is on Netflix or Hulu. One problem that arises from these streaming services having thousands of shows under their belts, is that some great shows get lost in the algorithms of the services in question and never receive the acclaim they deserve. However, one unique show happens to have broken through said boundaries, and a cult following has seemingly appeared overnight; Our Flag Means Death on HBO Max is a new pirate-themed comedy with elements of action and drama.

   Undoubtedly, one reason the show has taken off is due to the star-power of Taika Waititi, known for directing and starring in Thor: Ragnarok and Jojo Rabbit, who acts as one of the executive producers and stars on the show. Although his contributions to the show are integral to its success, he is only one part of a greater whole.

   Stede Bonnet, played by Rhys Darby, is a posh nobleman born into a wealthy family who, discontent with his boring life and wife he never wanted to marry, turns to a life of adventuring and piracy. This premise, which is loosely based on a true story, is the core of the show, at least at the beginning. However, the recurring and side characters, such as Blackbeard, played by Taika Waititi, and Jim, played by Vico Ortiz, carry the show forward with their increasingly complex and well-developed characters, as well as their humorous interactions with other characters.

   Although there are many positive aspects of the show, there are a few things which could’ve been improved such as the special effects and pacing, albeit none of these things impact the general experience too much.

   One other aspect of the show that makes it something truly special is the overacting of Stede and Blackbeard, contrasting more serious characters like Jim; this overacting makes the show much funnier, yet still manages to keep the tone grounded in reality. Stede was especially hilarious, with his voice and general demeanor feeling like it would belong in a more ridiculous setting, and yet somehow…it works.

   There are lots of other commendable things about the show like the set and costume design, guest stars, and its comical portrayal of piracy, nevertheless I think it is important to focus on the most controversial aspect of the show: the LGBTQ+ representation. Throughout the show, it is implied that certain same-sex characters are interested in one another. In most modern media, same-sex relationships go no further than implications to prevent certain audience members from feeling uncomfortable (which is a problem in many cases). In contrast, Our Flag Means Death only cares about telling a decent story, even if it means many people will lose interest; the show cares about its characters more than the audience watching them. This crucial factor is why the show leaves such a lasting impression on the audience. 

   Overall, Our Flag Means Death is a fantastic show, and if there is no Season 2, I will surely riot. The writing, acting, and representation are on point, and it deserves nothing but praise. It is currently one of the best shows on HBO Max, and shouldn’t be missed.