HBO’s new pirate comedy “Our Flag Means Death” is extremely fun


Photo courtesy of HBO Max

Rhys Darby plays Stede Bonnet in HBO max original series “Our Flag Means Death”

Ian Lloyd, Staff Writer

There is so much on TV to watch these days. Someone is always singing praise about a certain show from one of the many streaming services we have to keep us in the loop. It’s become a standard practice for these series to have nearly hour-long episodes and deliver narratives seeming more like a stretched out film than an episodic story. There is yet another show that you should add to your watchlist, but this one respects your time much more than others.

“Our Flag Means Death” is a loose retelling of the historic adventures of the gentleman pirate, Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby). After feeling aimless in his life of posh luxury in the early 1700s, Stede abandons his life of wealth to become a pirate. He nearly dies multiple times from his naivety until Stede’s crew is met with the fearless Blackbeard (Taika Waititi). These two wildly different pirates team up to teach each other their respective lifestyles in this first season.

Each episode is a self-contained story building on an overarching plot, but it never feels like a long film cut into pieces. It’s quite an easy watch with only 10 episodes in the first season and a breezy thirty-minute runtime for each one. 

This series starts off a bit weak. The first few episodes are entertaining, but they don’t quite grab the audience right away. It’s not until episode four when Waititi arrives as the infamous Blackbeard that this show becomes truly great.

Taika Waititi plays Blackbeard in new comedy “Our Flag Means Death.” (Photo Courtesy of HBO Max)


Watitti is always a delight to see on screen and his chemistry with Darby is wonderful here. These two characters are both really well written. It takes aspects of their historic counterparts seriously while modernizing the dialogue. 

The rest of the cast is just as fun to watch. Some characters don’t get quite enough time on screen compared to others, but there really isn’t a weak link. The show also has some great cameos and recurring guest appearances from actors like Will Arnett, Leslie Jones, Tim Heidecker and Kristen Schaal. It all adds up to an entertaining and modern look at these thieves at sea.

“Our Flag Means Death” excels in humor and LGBTQ representation. (Photo Courtesy of HBO Max)

I love pirates. To be more specific, I love when stories about pirates are more than the swashbuckling and treasure hunting. Those aspects are fun, but I love when the characters get a deeper look into why they resorted to a life of violence. In a sense, pirates are historic punks who rebel against society and live a life free from rules. They are able to find communities who accept them when the world casts them out. These ideas are brought up as central themes throughout this story, which leads to one of its best attributes.

This show’s inclusion of LGBTQ characters is wonderful. It never holds back in depicting its characters in a thoughtful and realistic manner. It’s great to see some actual representation that matters to the story rather than an easy to miss detail that is simple to edit out later. The show doesn’t tease the audience with possibilities. It comes right out and makes the intent clear as day with each of its queer relationships throughout the show.

Blackbeard and Stede’s relationship is a highlight of “Our Flag Means Death.” (Photo Courtesy of HBO Max)

“Our Flag Means Death” is like a breath of fresh air. It’s a well written and easy to watch experience, which leaves the audience with anticipation for another season instead of an exhausted sigh at the thought of more to come. 

Its representation of minorities is sadly one of the only good examples in television at the moment, but it’s shown as critical and necessary in this show. It’s an extremely fun series, and I could not help but watch as fast as I could. It receives a well deserved nine out of ten.

New media is being released constantly these days. I usually can’t find the time for television at all, but I am extremely happy I gave this a shot. If you want a silly pirate comedy with some well-written characters, I highly recommend you watch “Our Flag Means Death” on HBO Max.