Pirate stories have become incredibly diverse over the years as Hollywood has allowed historical and completely fictitious elements to mingle and help create the types of tales that have been criticized and praised in various ways. Some of them are action-packed, others are serious dramas, and then others are funny but dramatic in kind of a cringe-worthy way. Our Flag Means Death is a pirate story that might leave a lot of people wondering if they’re supposed to laugh, while others might be thinking that it’s kind of a droll and even ridiculous show that HBO Max thought would be a gem. In truth, it’s not a completely ridiculous show since while its premise rests on the uncertain shoulders of a crew that’s led by a bit of a dandy and is composed of several rejects that don’t appear as though they could trouble a fishing crew, let alone a well-trained force. But they do manage to get lucky in the pilot episode and one should have been able to see this coming without question since shows and movies like this don’t generally allow the underdogs to be eradicated without a miraculous stroke of luck that saves the day.
But the idea that a pampered aristocrat would leave his life behind to pursue a life of piracy is kind of an odd story, even if it works in a way that people have responded to in a favorable manner. Pirate stories have been popular for quite a while even though historically, pirates were more than a little controversial since they were men and women that made their living by stealing and plundering the belongings of others while leaving death and destruction behind. More than a few myths about pirates and what they were all about have been debunked or verified over the years, but when it comes to Hollywood, piracy is a hot topic and one that many storytellers are willing to bank on when it comes to entertaining the masses.
When one thinks of how many different stories there have been that deal with pirates in one way or another, it becomes a dizzying process to realize how many different ways pirates have been represented and how they’ve been seen by one audience or another. From live-action to animated shows, pirates have been seen as heroes, villains, and everything in between. But Our Flag Means Death blends those elements in a manner that makes it very clear that it’s not bound to be the same type of show that people have seen before. The crew members are, for the most part, reminiscent of the simple-minded lot that have been seen in other shows and movies, as they’re not entirely educated, or at least don’t act like they are. Some of them are more astute than others, and a couple of them are genuinely deadly when it comes to their skills. Their captain is a source of irritation right from the start since he doesn’t know what he’s doing and his decision to lead a crew is perhaps one of the strangest things to get used to since apart from Jack Sparrow, it’s understood that pirates weren’t often known to follow weak individuals.
But comedy being what it is, this show fires on nearly every cylinder, but there are still moments when one can’t help but shake their head and think of how the writers must have a seriously strange sense of humor. Given the list of actors that have been utilized for this show, it’s not hard to sit back and have a good laugh as the pirates initially come to the near-decision that they’re ready to mutiny and toss their captain over the side, if they’re in a good mood. Captain Stede is, well, one of the weakest individuals that could have been selected for this role, which means that he’s one of those that has the most room for development as the show goes along. The rest of the crew appear to be just fine as they are, but it’s fair to say that watching them is enough to make a person feel as though they’re about to wet themselves after a while. Yes, it’s that funny at times, and the funniest moments tend to come out of nowhere now and then.
The overall diversity of the cast is kind of fun since it brings a lot more interest to many people since it’s easy to enjoy the antics of the crew and how things turn out within the first couple of episodes as the pirates engage in the type of shenanigans that make this show so much fun. Of course, one can’t help but think that they’d all be dead within their first voyage in real life, but that kind of adds to the hilarity. It’s kind of like piracy with a healthy dash of slapstick, and so far it’s too much fun to abandon entirely.