Why You Should Be Watching the Unique HBO Comedy

A new comedy show began releasing on HBO Max in March. Our Flag Means Death quickly captured the attention and hearts of fans over its ten episodes full of laughter, drama, and a bit of romance. David Jenkins and Taika Waititi worked together to build the show, bringing the life of a pirate crew to the screen and showing the intricacies of the different crew members living on the ship. Through hilarious highs and dramatic lows, there’s a lot that the story holds.

Though HBO has not ordered a second season of the show yet, fans are eager to get one, taking to Twitter with a flurry or fan art to show their support of the show. Jenkins himself thinks a renewal looks promising, and is blown away by the support the show has received as being the biggest new series in the US So, what is the show about for it to be such a hit? Well, other than Watiti’s popular comedy style, as seen in What We Do In The Shadows and Jojo Rabbitand the show’s overall inclusivity, here’s a little more about the show and why you should watch it.


Our Flag Means Death, But What’s It About?

Rhys Darby as Stede Bonnet.

If you have not seen the show yet, it follows pirate Captain Stede Bonnet, played by Rhys Darby, and his crew aboard their ship, which is named the Revenge. However, Bonnet is not the captain you would expect. Dubbed the ‘Gentleman Pirate,’ this is Bonnet’s first time as a pirate, having left his land and wealthy family behind to sail the seas instead. This is where much of the comedy of this show comes from – a pirate captain with no real experience being a pirate makes for a lot of mistakes and comedic moments.

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As Bonnet and his crew sail the seas, they draw the attention of one particular famous pirate: Blackbeard, wonderfully played by Taika Watiti. The legendary pirate’s name is feared by all, whether they be traders, navy, or other pirates. He’s taken an interest in Bonnet, however, and after their first meeting, they decide to show each other what they know: specifically, Blackbeard shows Bonnet how to be a proper pirate, and in return, Bonnet shows him how to be a proper gentleman .

The unlikely duo get along swimmingly, but trouble brews as Blackbeard’s right-hand man, Israel ‘Izzy’ Hands, played by Con O’Neill, believes they are wasting their time with the crew of the Revenge, and thinks Blackbeard is going soft. The plot thickens as the crew members clash with Izzy, and the return of a few enemies they made along the way does not help either.

These Pirates Are Based On Real Events

Taika Waititi as Blackbeard and Rhys Darby as Stede Bonnet.

Whether you’ve seen the show already or not, what many people might not know is that the plot of Our Flag Means Death is loosely based on real events. Obviously Blackbeard was a real pirate, as his name truly is legendary. He was captain of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, the most popular ship he captained throughout his time of renown and respect. Surprisingly, he did not like using violence often, instead relying on the fear his name carried along with his sharp wit. Nowadays, he’s the inspiration for how the average pirate acts in most works of fiction.

Something that may be surprising, however, is that Stede Bonnet was a real pirate too. He did indeed leave his large amount of land behind, along with his family, to pursue a life of piracy. Despite his lack of experience and prior life of comfort, it was what he wished to do with his life. Stede knew Blackbeard in real life too, running into each other during the early days of Stede’s pirate career, when Stede was too injured to continue captaining his ship, so Blackbeard took control long enough for him to recover. They spent much of Stede’s remaining pirate days together.

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As was previously mentioned, the HBO Max show is only loosely based on true events. While Stede starts his pirate career for the same reason, and he and Blackbeard meet around similar events, there is a lot that is indeed merely part of the plot. Not much is known about Blackbeard’s past, for example, so everything they have is made up. The small details of their time together aren’t as well known either, so everything they do together on the ship, from crashing a noble’s party to their vast use of tricks and theatrics, is purely fictional. It still keeps the foundations of the historical characters intact, however, making sure to pay homage to them and their stories.

Our Flag Means Death Celebrates Underrated Actors

Stede and Lucius standing together staring at at something in the distance.

The popularity of this show has brought many underrated actors into the spotlight. Though you can find several of them in other movies and shows, they’ve never really held such a prominent role, or at least not in a work that’s gained the attention that this show has. Rhys Darby is a New Zealand actor and comedian who, previously, had not headlined a role before. He has worked with popular actors before, such as Jim Carrey in Yes Man and with the cast of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. His best role to date has been the ditzy, hilarious band manager in Flight of the Conchords, several episodes of which Taika Watiti directed; the two later worked together with the excellent What We Do In The Shadows. He’s a fantastic comedy actor, and the way he brings Bonnet to life really elevates the story.

Con O’Neill is another actor who hasn’t seen the limelight much, but for his portrayal of Izzy Hands, he’s gained a lot of recent attention. O’Neill is mostly known for his performances in musicals, having been nominated for a Tony Award. When he does show up in TV shows or movies, it’s usually only for a few episodes, or as a small character. Some other popular media he’s been in, like Chernobyl and The Batman, featured him as merely a supporting character on screen for a small amount of time. However, as one of the main characters here, he’s drawn much attention on Twitter, interacting with the fans and their art as they love his interpretation of Izzy Hands.

The supporting cast also has a few other great but underrated actors working today, such as Samson Kayo and Joel Fry. Samson Kayo has only been in the acting world since 2011, and has since been establishing an acting and writing career for himself. He plays one of the crewmates, Oluwande Boodhari, and he brings the character to life well, serving as one of the most trusting and level-headed members on the Revenge.

Joel Fry is an actor and musician who has appeared in Game of Thrones and Cruella, to name a few. Apart from his prominent and excellent role in the dark Netflix drama Requiem, Fry is usually in supporting roles, and that’s no different in this show, but he shows the duality of pirates as Frenchie, playing the role of entertainer, seamster, and, of course, scheming pirate, when the time arises. As such, Our Flag Means Death is one of the best TV series on HBO Max right now, and highlights a variety of unique actors playing exceptionally unique characters, and gives these oddball characters their time to shine.


Our Flag Means Death Trailer Introduces Rhys Darby’s Kind-Hearted Pirate

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