The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.
I’m just going to say it: The last couple weeks have been rough. Living in the Upside Down rough. Turn-on-the-news-with-one-eye-closed rough. Usually, this column is devoted to those topics. But earlier this week, on Wednesday, the clouds parted and a piece of good news emerged: HBO Max has renewed Our Flag Means Death for a second season, and I’m choosing to hold that close.
You might be wondering if this is because Taika Waititi, who plays Blackbeard on the show, currently graces WIRED’s cover. That’s part of it, yes. (Waititi’s vibe definitely screams: One of Us.) But it’s more than that; it’s also about a fan-favorite show finally getting a win. The first season ended on a cliffhanger, but for months there was no word of a second one. Fans began to panic, pushing hashtags like #RenewOurFlagMeansDeath and even sending HBO postcards requesting a second season. In a bleak week, the internet successfully campaigning for a beloved show feels like a victory.
Our Flag Means Death’s renewal also comes at a very opportune time. Wednesday happened to be June 1, the first day of this year’s Pride month, and as one of the most smartly queer shows on television—seriously, the way it flipped the script on queerbaiting remains a revelation—the renewal felt like a gift to LGBTQ+ fans. The cast and crew confirmed as much: Waititi’s tweet about season two featured a rainbow flag and a pirate flag, and Con O’Neill, who plays Izzy Hands, tweeted “Happy pride you beautiful people x” alongside a screenshot of “#RenewOurFlagMeansDeath” trending amongst the Pride month topics on Twitter. It’s almost as if HBO held onto the news just to drop it on this particular day.
Amidst every awful thing happening on Earth right now, it seems odd to celebrate the renewal of a show—especially considering the second season hasn’t even been written and doesn’t have a release date yet. But there’s something about celebrating this show that feels worth it. Our Flag Means Death, a show somewhat based on reality, is about one pirate, Blackbeard, who falls for a “gentleman pirate,” Stede (Rhys Darby). Both of them are transformed in the process. At a time when it can feel like the world is regressing, like things will never evolve, watching love blossom in lawlessness is the kind of joy that’s hard to deny.