If you’ve not seen season 1, then avast! There be spoilers ahead mateys! If you have, then you may freely set sail to the Republic of Pirates (aka the next paragraph).
HBO Max has started out Pride Month with a bang, by today announcing the renewal of the incredible pirate romance series, ‘Our Flag Means Death’. If you’ve been on the #OFMD tag anywhere on social media since the show first broadcast in early March, then you’ll have been waiting for this news with some anxiety. Thankfully we can all breathe once more!
Too many times queer characters in entertainment have been given storylines that use them as stereotypes, or present them as tragic. Even worse, is the practice of “queerbaiting”, in which creators hint at, but then do not actually depict, same-sex romance or other LGBTQAI+ representation. ‘Our Flag Means Death’, however, has been hailed as being one of – if not the – first tv series to present queer characters naturally. Just as in the real world, the queer population of ‘Our Flag Means Death’ comes in all shapes, sizes, colours, genders, and race: just like the straight population.
Besides the central premise of the romance between the two leads, Stede Bonnet the Gentleman Pirate, played by New Zealand actor Rhys Darby, and the dread Blackbeard, Edward Teach, played by fellow New Zealander, actor and director Taika Waititi, there are also at least 2 other queer storylines in the show. Non-binary character, Jim (played by non-binary actor Vico Ortiz), is in an on-off relationship with bestie Oluwande (Samson Kayo), while Lucius (Nathan Foad), and Black Pete (Matthew Maher) have a matelotage – a civil union between same-sex pirates.
Additionally, there is no discrimination on the basis of size, or colour; and all characters have their own well-developed backstories.
Created by David Jenkins, best known before this for the TBS series, ‘People Of Earth’, While the events in ‘Our Flag Means Death’ seem largely improbable, there is a lot of fact – and more often than not it’s the more fantastic parts that really happened. The crew of Bonnet’s ship, ‘Revenge’, are fictional, but the real Stede Bonnet did pay his pirates a wage; not only that, but Bonnet and Blackbeard were not just contemporaries, but sailed together for a time. Whether this was as a matelotage, it’s not known, but in the world of ‘Our Flag Means Death’ we are shown a beautiful romance developing between Stede and Ed, and the ending left plenty of room for a second season. Speaking to Mashable, Jenkins explained about the Stede/Ed relationship,
“The central thing that makes the show interesting for me is that Blackbeard took Stede under his wing, for some reason, in real life,” Jenkins said. “And it really makes no sense — there’s all these holes in it. Filling those holes in with things of your own invention is one of the joys of doing a true story like this.”
‘Our Flag Means Death’ has an ensemble cast with many household names, Stede and Ed are played by New Zealanders Rhys Darby, and Taika Waititi, respectively, while fellow New Zealand actor, David Fane, who was in in Taika Waititi’s award-winning 2007 film, ‘Eagle vs Shark’, is, with UK comedian Guz Khan, one of the two sidekick’s of Blackbeard’s first mate, Izzy Hands, played menacingly by the amazing Con O’Neill.
Bonnet’s crew is made up of Samba Schutte (Roach), Joel Fry (Frenchie), Kristian Nairn (Wee John Feeney), Vico Ortiz (Jim), Samson Kayo (Oluwande), Nathan Foad (Lucius), Matthew Mahr (Black Pete), Nat Faxon (The Swede), and Ewen Bremner (Buttons). Also featured in supporting roles are Leslie Jones, Rory Kinnear, and Fred Armisen.