Introduce What could have happened If the Creator Dared to Dream Bigger is the driving ethos of the fandom. Whether the people behind the scenes expected the most passionate part of their audience to fixate on a queer romance, which may or may not have been intended, doesn’t matter. When queerness is still on the fringes of society, it’s no surprise that the relationships fans obsess over and want to achieve are overwhelmingly queer.
Our flag means death, whose second season is now airing on Max, doesn’t ask its fans to dream about queer possibilities. Instead, it is this rare type of work that elevates the romantic subtext – usually hidden beneath bromatic jokes or subtle ambiguity – into an undeniable text from the start. And when fandoms and creative teams are both on the same page of the same blatantly queer love story, as is the case Our flagthe experience is nothing short of sublime.
queer media, especially televisionSince the 1970s it has entered a golden age. There are the early mainstream pioneers like The L word And will and grace; the wholesome coming-of-age romcoms like Heart stopper And Love, winner; and the adaptations take popular stories a big step further Interview with the Vampire, Good Omens, And Hannibal. There are dark, real-life inspired dramas like Orange is the new black And posemurderous thrillers like Kill Eve And Orphan Blackraunchy comedies like What we do in the shadows And Enlightenment lessonsand many more stories with queer leads and fully developed storylines.
But even among these big names, this silly gay pirate show stands out by taking what these shows do best and filling a particular need that few have filled before. The reasons are many: It refuses to use queer subtext as a prop or ransom for audience loyalty. It avoids the will-they-won’t-they dance that positions love as the end rather than the beginning. It contradicts the idea that you have to renounce your past in order to move on. It mocks the idea of a ceiling for complex queer characters and relationships in a single show. And it shows that representing the experiences of queer people (and, just as importantly, people of color) doesn’t always have to center on brutality and trauma – that healing can come from making acceptance the norm and bigotry the the target of ridicule, and that kindness does not mean being passive.
As a show that didn’t explicitly market itself as “LGBTQ,” one of them Our flagThe most striking aspect of The Novel is the way it subverts the genre’s typical approach to romance. One could argue that the love story begins with Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby) being recognized by none other than the dreaded Blackbeard (Taika Waititi) as the pirate he wants to be – even though he is already three-quarters dead. Or you could say it begins with Blackbeard, aka Ed Teach, being seen for the first time as someone deserving of gentleness and magnificence by being the epitome of gentleness and magnificence himself. Or when Stede comforts Ed as he curls up in the bathtub and relives his worst memories. Or when Stede picks a roasted snake out of Ed’s beard. Or when Ed confronts the British to save Stede’s life. Or when…
You understand what I mean. There’s an entire season full of scenes that form the foundation of a fandom: moments of intimacy and connection that hint at the possibility of more. These are the planks and rigging of a ship sturdy enough to outrun the fleet of fanworks that chase such moments until feelings are allowed to come to fruition and sail off into the sunset. In retrospect, Our flag was undoubtedly heading in that direction. But it wasn’t until the most undeniable gesture of love happened on screen – a kiss – that fans breathed a sigh of relief. Because fandom, despite its ability to bring alternate universes into existence, is inherently tied to the media from which it springs, and many always have Throw queer love as bait.
But with Our flag, Most fans don’t even think about what direction the story will take. And the key difference is that they completely trust the creators.
For many queer fans, it’s a novel experience to work with a creative team that not only knows exactly who the audience is and what they care about, but also proudly and loudly celebrates them. In interviews, producer and lead actor Taika Waititi has stated that he collects fan art on his cell phone. Vico Ortiz (who plays non-binary pirate Jim Jimenez) shared this fan art encouraged her to get it top gender-affirming surgery. Creator and showrunner David Jenkins once remarked that fan discussions were as accurate as if they had “Was in the writers’ room.” And several queer actors on the series have expressed that the fandom has made them feel that way even more connected to the LGBTQ+ community.
Our flag is one of the rare cases where fans and creators share the same vision for a particular work. There are no demands for the figurative death of the overly original-thinking author or for a strict separation of the “canon” of the original work from the “Fanonic” interpretations of the audience. There’s no need for fans to look for subtext, because what they were looking for has stayed with them the whole time – not as a forgettable pantomime or a forgettable Hail Mary lose, but a queer love story that was consciously and thoughtfully crafted from the start.
Our flag presents fans with a living world in which, for the most part, everything is beautiful and almost nothing hurts – at least not yet. Fans can guess how the second act will unfold and the end of the third act, even if they don’t know exactly how to get there. But with full trust in the creators, fans have the opportunity to expand their imaginations beyond adding up evidence and righting wrongs – and it makes for a fandom experience, rather than a eulogy at a funeral another buried gay manmore of a toast to the most extravagant and absurd cruise wedding that has ever taken place on the world’s oceans.
We are all on the same page of the same story and the experiences of everyone involved are that much richer for it. Or, as Stede would say: darling Is the real treasure.
Fandom, like being a pirate, is a very strange endeavor in many ways. It’s about giving up the rules so you can survive; Grab every bit of home you can find and make it your own; Share the spoils with the people who see and accept you as you are and want to be. Or, in the words of the show’s pseudo-antagonist Izzy Hands (Con O’Neill), it’s about belonging to something – something that I think might be enough to help you find yourself to fall in love with life and the world again.
I often think about the scene that first captivated me Our flag: Stede asks his former wife Mary (Claudia O’Doherty) what it feels like to be in love. Looking back on it now, I realize that her answer describes what the experience of being part of a community is like on a show Our flag creates, can feel. Because love, she tells him, is as easy as breathing. It’s about understanding each other’s quirks and recognizing the charm in them. It’s about showing each other new things and laughing a lot. It’s a great way to pass the time together.
To every queer fan out there: I hope you find this too. I hope you can name it without fear. And I hope you will be embraced for this revelation and all the wonder and joy it brings.