Our Flag Means Death: A pirate comedy worth binging



Our Flag Means Death is a romantic comedy series where a ragtag crew attempts to make a name for themselves as pirates.

Natalie Anderson, Staff Writer

Our Flag Means Death is a new TV series on HBO Max which debuted its first episode on March 3, 2022. After its season finale, it has become the most in demand show in the United States, unseating The Book of Boba Fett, which has held that spot for the past three months.

Set in 1717, during the Golden Age of Piracy, the show follows Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby) as he forsakes his family and life as a wealthy aristocrat to become a pirate. He and his ragtag crew aboard the Revenge attempt to make a name for themselves and struggle to survive against threats from the British navy and other pirates. 

During their adventures, the crew of the Revenge crosses paths with the famous Blackbeard, also known as Edward Teach (Taika Waititi) and his first mate Izzy Hands (Con O’Neill). Together, Stede and Edward begin to develop an unexpected relationship.

As a romantic comedy series, it does not disappoint in either of those aspects. However, it is definitely one of those shows where you will either love it, or just find it plain idiotic. It did take an episode or two to become adjusted to the style of humor, but I quickly found myself laughing along with the jokes. 

This series also has one of the best LGBTQ+ representation that I have seen thus far. When a show or movie has these types of relationships, you almost expect to be queerbaited; a relationship is hinted at, but not actually depicted. Fortunately, the show fully delivers. 

Stede and Edward looking out across the sea after a stunt where they traded clothes and pretended to be each other. (HBO Max)

The central relationship between Stede and Edward starts out romantic and continues to carry out through the show. It takes the time to build the characters so we know where they are on their life journey and how they came to be there. They both admire the qualities in each other that they wish they could have, with Stede wanting Edward’s freedom and confidence while Edward wants Stede’s impulsive kindness. Together, they find comfort in themselves and in each other. 

Their relationship alone smashes the trope of queerbaiting. 

Along with the romance between Stede and Edward, there are two other queer relationships, one of which includes a non-binary character, Jim Jimenez (Vico Ortiz). 

Other important themes are also approached such as confronting toxic masculinity, learning how to be vulnerable, and facing trauma. 

Stede’s thoughtfulness directly challenges the personality that Edward has grown to think he needs to embody: fearlessness and delighting in violence and aggression. Because of Stede’s influence, Edward slowly begins to realize that he is allowed to have the freedom to be himself.

However, Stede is the opposite. He idolizes the type of person he first imagines Edward to be. He wants to be fearless and powerful, as he has always been criticized for being too soft or not good enough. Yet, when Edward and Stede are together, they learn that they have the freedom to be themselves, or versions of themselves they were not previously accepted as.

Currently, there is no word on a renewal for a second season, but the ending of the finale, along with the popularity and high ratings of the show, give me high hopes that a sequel will soon be confirmed. 

Stede showing Edward what he found on his adventure around an island. (HBO Max)

Our Flag Means Death is truly a show of compassion while being outright ridiculous and silly at the same time. The humor provides a sense of respite through the battles the characters are facing, even though the raw emotions of humanity and coming to terms with oneself are brilliantly depicted. 

It is certainly a revolutionary show when it comes to breaking through barriers and representing a group that has struggled to have accurate representation in the media.