From my experience there are few, if any, fan bases that are as passionate and vocal about their favorite series than the fans of Our Flag Means Death. After season one concluded I had the opportunity to speak with series creator and writer, David Jenkins about the unique Max pirate series. At the time, I was doing so to support the hilarious and often beautiful love story between Ed Teach (aka Blackbeard) Taika Waititi and Stede Bonnet “The Gentleman Pirate” played by Rhys Darby.
Jenkins was a true pleasure to speak with and his fervor for OFMD made me appreciate his work and the series even more than before our conversation. I was quite pleased with the interview and excited to share it with Awards Radar’s readers and on my twitter page. The series as a whole well exceeded my expectations and I hoped my lone voice support would help lock in the second season renewal both Jenkins and I badly wanted.
After doing so, I stepped away from my computer, returning shortly after to learn my support of the series was not so alone after all. My Twitter notifications were blowing up and continued to do so for days. The response was overwhelming. OFMD from across the globe were like-ing, retweeting, commenting and discussing my interview with David in numbers I had not seen before.
Not only were they enjoying the interview, they were incredibly kind and open about their appreciation for the sharing it with them. It not only made my day, it really moved me. My eyes were opened to the rare, authentically positive side of social media. In a world filled with negativity and anger, often for the sake of spreading hate, I was finding the exact opposite – a fandom spreading love and joy enthusiastically and selflessly.
Through their tweets they introduced amazing original fan art, personal stories, cosplay pictures, fan fiction, and much more. Every tweet was a celebration of the work of Jenkins, his cast and team. Some celebrated the series’ LGBTQ+ representation, others the touching queer love story – still others the humor, the performances, the costumes, the writing… the positive energy was unstoppable.
Fast forward to this week where I had the honor of speaking to Jenkins again, this time about season two and on video (below). The series creator/writer/showrunner did not disappoint and neither did the fans. My interview hit YouTube and was met with another tidal wave of positivity. In a time where negativity seems to have taken over the world, it provided the ray hope I really needed.
Last week, I attended a presentation by HBO and Max CEO Casey Bloys who was asked about an Our Flag Mean Death third season renewal. Although he called it “an incredibly funny, well done, poignant show,” his response to the question was carefully worded. He seemed to tip-toe around the question, saying, “We’re trying to figure out… does it make sense? So, I don’t really have an answer for anybody at this point.” My read on his response was a third season is in no way a given. Essentially, the numbers will make the decision. While I understand how business works, I also know that sometimes you just have to follow your heart and OFMD is all heart.
My hope is that Bloys and company do not wait for the numbers and provide the loyal fans with the season three renewal they deserve. And furthermore, that the fans continue to watch it in droves, making some waves by keeping those viewership numbers high so in a situation where a decision is made with a calculator instead of a heart Our Flag Means Death lives to sail again. It would be a season that, based on what Jenkins said in our interview, would wrap up a central story arc and open the door for more tales of the high seas. The fans need it.
Below are some excerpts from my conversation with David Jenkins. My interview in its entirety, including a cameo by my cat, Olive, can be found above. Both seasons of Our Flag Means Death are streaming on Max. After you watch our conversation, be sure to watch the series again and again and again for the next few months at lease so we can all enjoy more tales of the crew of The Revenge.
David Jenkins Interview Excerpts
Awards Radar: The scope and scale of this season is much bigger. Yet as big as it is, it still feels small and personal. How do you find that balance when you’re telling these stories?
David Jenkins: That’s a nice compliment. It’s hard. Especially when you go and you have all these toys. You have pirate ships, you have a giant screen, and you have all this stuff. But then you really do want to make it feel intimate when you’re shooting it and make it feel like it’s a small production. Because, sometimes, I think size kills comedy. Like a giant budget can kill comedy.
A giant LED screen can kill comedy and make everybody tense up, if you let it. It helps that we’re in a second season, and everybody knows and loves each other and loves working together. There’s a feeling of a family on set. And those things help a lot.
Awards Radar: This season we have these beautiful small moments, for example when Izzy Hands (Con O’Neill) sing La Vie en Rose. Where do those originate and how do you make it work, make it feel organic?
David Jenkins: That’s specifically for writing a second season, you know your actors better. So having Con and knowing that Con can sing, and then wanting to give him so many things to do in the season, was like, ‘Oh, well, yeah, we’ll find a place for that.’
And a lot of times, we can’t blow things up. On this show, as much as other shows blow things up, you know, we have to kind of pick our shots. But that’s the fun of it. Where it’s like the story of the show is in the workplace of it, and in the small moments of it. And those are the things in anything that I love, I love to see. It’s the meat of this show and I think it’s what makes it different from other people doing things in this genre.
Awards Radar: What were some of your goals for this couple (Ed and Stede) in season two?
David Jenkins: I wanted to have them have to grapple with being in a relationship. They’re still in the early phase of a relationship. And I think they’re middle aged men, but they’re very immature in some ways. Like this is their first real relationship that wasn’t an arranged marriage or whatever else.
So I think to see them try to navigate each other and be comfortable with each other as just a couple and kind of a kind of a young couple in terms of emotional intelligence. Those are the fun things to me where it’s wonderful to see two characters fall in love. But then, all of us are in relationships know that love is work.
Awards Radar: How do you decide what pirate you will bring this world?
David Jenkins: I think a lot of pirate history is suspect. I think a lot of it is whitewashed. There’s a lot that skipped over. A lot of it is pretty straight-washed, too. I think it was a weirder, more colorful, more queer experience than what we get when we look at a traditional pirate movie or story that we’re used to.
A lot of this stuff was propaganda written by people that were like, ‘Don’t be pirates. Pirates are bad.’ It’s fun to go in and just reinvent. You’ll never be able to restore it, but try to reinvent some of it and explore some of the weirdness and interesting things that can exist in the genre.
Awards Radar: Could the story end here and you’d be satisfied or do you have a roadmap for this crew going forward?
David Jenkins: I think I have a good sense of where season three would go. And I think season three would be the conclusion of Ed and Steed’s story.
But I do think it’s a big world and there’s so many characters and there’s so many things you can do with it. I think there’s room for story after the Ed and Stede relationship. I think there’s so many ways you could take this in success.
So ,if we get a chance to do it again, it’d be great. I’d love to take a third swing at it, definitely, and wrap it up properly.
(Let’s make that happen!)
UPDATE: The fans are already making waves. I have been informed of a fan-led campaign to get Our Flag Means Death renewed for Season 3. You can follow them here and use hashtag #RenewAsACrew when sharing on Twitter.