Photo By: Noah Nickel via Crave

Our Flag Means Death is a new HBO series produced by Taika Waititi. It takes the stories of renowned real-life pirates Stede Bonnet (The Gentleman Pirate) and Edward Thatch/Teach (Bleackbeard), played by Rhys Darby and Waititi respectively and brings them to life in a funny and charming series that’s impossible to stop watching once you’ve begun. 

The show takes a lot of liberties when it comes to historical accuracy, focusing more on comedy and character arcs that will appeal to modern audiences. The characters are as bizarre and ragtag as a group of pirates can be. Although the main genre of the series is comedy, there are genuine heartfelt moments. 

The shot composition and lighting throughout the show are exceptional, giving it moments with outstanding visuals, a rare quality in TV comedies. The costume design evokes the late 1600s, early 1700s without needing to be accurate, focusing more on using costumes to tell us about the characters and how they see the world. The soundtrack is also brilliant, using popular songs to support the action of the series and let the audience in on characters’ emotional states. All these technical elements come together to support an already very well-made show. 

In a lot of ways, Our Flag Means Death is unlike many other series. Not just because it’s well written, acted and shot, but because it balances a strong emotional arc with a comedic premise. The 2SLGBTQ+ representation in it is exceptional as well. There are a lot of TV shows that revolve around strong relationships between men, either following intense bromances, or making jokes about their sexuallity without actually following through. In Our Flag Means Death, 2SLGBTQ+ characters are actually present on-screen. One of the characters, Jim, is nonbinary, and is portrayed brilliantly by Vico Ortiz. They are sweet, stoic, and one of the most badass characters in the show.  

The series has a strong main ensemble cast while also featuring hilarious small roles for well-known comedians including Will Arnett, Kristen Schaal, Nick Kroll, Leslie Jones, and Fred Armisen. Fans of What We Do In The Shadows will be drawn in by the familiar style, and hopefully surprised by some of the differences.  

The show takes its time setting up the central premise. The writers are clearly confident that the audience will be satisfied getting to know the characters and the world of the show for the first few episodes, rather than rushing into major action. The writing is well-paced and thoughtful because of it. The characters are so compelling and the story is so easy to get invested in that tense moments can really build, and when something comedic breaks the tension it makes for a good laugh. 

This first season of Our Flag Means Death is well-constructed. Each episode has its own arc, leaving the audience to wonder where it will go next, and hoping for a second season as soon as possible. A lot of comedy series rely on the fact that the characters don’t change too much during the run of the show, so viewers can pick up from anywhere. This show doesn’t shy away from character development. It’s similar to Ted Lasso in the way it balances comedy with sincere characters and emotional arcs viewers can get invested in. You definitely don’t want to miss out on Our Flag Means Death.