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Our Flag Means Death for Beginners

  • by Ethan Mallory Edited by 
Our Flag Means Death

Everything You Need to Know About the Max Original

Our Flag Means Death is releasing new episodes on HBO and Max this fall to the delight of many fans. With David Jenkins and Taika Waititi back at the helm, the second season of the acclaimed romantic comedy is sure to make a splash. Some people may ask, what is Our Flag Means Death? For those who haven’t seen season one, the streaming series provides an entertaining take on two of history’s most famous pirates. The show is full of heart and laughs that make it well worth the watch. Here’s everything — no spoilers — that an aspiring viewer needs to know about the seafaring show.

Plenty of Talent on Board

Pirate media might seem like it has run its course in recent years, but creator David Jenkins happened upon a fresh take on the subject matter. Best known for his previous sitcom People of Earth on TBS, showrunner Jenkins was inspired to write Our Flag Means Death after hearing from his wife about Stede Bonnet’s wild and unlikely escapades as a pirate. Jenkins began scouring the internet for more information on the upper-class captain and soon found himself working on a new TV project that would be acquired by Max streaming.

Our Flag Means Death’s production gained steam when famed New Zealander Taika Waititi — the brain behind Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit, and What We Do in the Shadows — joined as an actor, director, and executive producer. Waititi uses his typical wit alongside a talented cast that includes his previous collaborator Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords), Vico Ortiz (The Sex Lives of College Girls), Ewen Bremmer (Trainspotting), Joel Fry (Cruella), and Kristian Nairn (Game of Thrones). The series also features guest appearances from comedy legends like Will Arnett, Leslie Jones, Nick Kroll, Kristen Schaal, and Fred Armisen. 

Plot and Real-World Inspirations

Our Flag Means Death is based on the adventures of real pirates who sailed the seas in the early 1700s. It functions as both a period piece and a parody, as it takes some liberties regarding historical accuracy. The protagonist of the series is Stede Bonnet, a cowardly aristocrat played by Rhys Darby. Despite being a husband, father, and property owner, a midlife crisis sees Bonnet abandon his family and his comfortable life in hopes of becoming a world-famous swashbuckler. His vast wealth allows him to purchase a ship and hire a crew of not-so-fearsome sailors, but after setting out, the gentleman pirate soon discovers that life on the open seas isn’t as simple as he expected. 

Our Flag Means Death

A planned mutiny, a bloody encounter with the royal navy, and some failed plundering bring Bonnet into contact with Taika Waititi’s Edward Teach, more famously known as Blackbeard. Bonnet’s life is completely flipped on its head for better and worse. Though the legendary Blackbeard first sees the pirate newbie before him as an enemy, he soon finds himself willing to teach Bonnet the art of piracy in exchange for a lesson on upper-class living. Hijinks ensue, and the two form a quick friendship while swapping lifestyles. Things are looking up for both pirates, but can their bond withstand crew infighting and ghosts from their pasts? 

Freedom on the Open Sea

Our Flag Means Death stands apart from the pack in terms of representing the LGBTQ+ community. Many other shows have resorted to queerbaiting — or implying queerness with no intent of expanding upon it — to draw in a larger audience with false promises of diversity. Narratives like this don’t hold up in the modern era of television, and they’re severely unsatisfying. While Our Flag Means Death started out seeming like it would include yet another phony attempt at passive queerness, that luckily wound up not being the case. 

Characters throughout the story blatantly identify as gay, bisexual, nonbinary, or queer in some other form. Openly gay relationships, both casual and committed, can be found throughout the series. Not only are they all treated with a welcome amount of normalcy, but they’re allowed depth and intimacy typically lacking in on-screen queer romances. This is what allowed the series to quickly gain traction following the first season’s release. Overall, Our Flag Means Death functions as a strong romantic comedy that provides multiple examples of how LGBTQ+ representation should be incorporated into media. 

Second Season Coming Soon

Fans caught up on the series won’t have to wait much longer to see the continued adventures of Stede Bonnet and Blackbeard. A second season has long since been confirmed, and the currently untitled first episode will premiere on October 5th. Season two sees the original cast return and is currently slated to have nine episodes released throughout October. Each of these episodes — along with the original season — will be available to stream on Max. For those who know how season one ends, this second season can’t come quickly enough. For those who haven’t watched through season one, it’s time to get to it.

Our Flag Means Death

Our Flag Means Death (2022) Official Season One Max Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Ethan Mallory joined the Dead Talk News team in 2023. Aside from writing for Dead Talk News, he has also worked as a student editor for the Short Vine Literary Journal. Ethan is currently pursuing a film major and an English minor at the University of Cincinnati. While working for Dead Talk News, he has covered trending horror and action film news and written comic reviews.
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