I get asked about which shows I watch. I get looks of surprise when I say “The Good Wife” since it’s not geeky. I get nods of understanding when I say “Agent Carter,” “Star Wars Rebels” and “Game of Thrones.” (The cooking shows make people laugh, but that might be because I make everything in the microwave.) However, when I say “Black Sails,” people constantly respond with, “Oh, I keep meaning to start watching that one!” Guys, START WATCHING THAT ONE!
I marathoned the Starz series right before a visit to the set in South Africa last year and I was hooked in one episode. The series is loosely based on the story of the pirate Long John Silver, and his fellow plunderers. Of course, everyone loves pirates, but this one grabbed me, not because of actual piracy, but because of the way it handles the history of Nassau island and the struggle to create a world that reflects how you want to live.
OK, maybe the actual history of the place didn’t work out so well for the pirates, but you can’t deny that defying a superpower like England to try to have a free-ish society is a compelling story. It’s fascinating to watch how people who would have been considered the dregs of society back home have carved out a city where they can do as they like. The madam of the island has more power than many dukes. A woman is running the joint. It’s a society where you can start out as a minor thief or a deckhand and rise to power, captaining your own ship. It’s a brutal life and a dangerous profession (and not exactly all that moral), but who doesn’t love watching pirates?
The performances, the sets — everything is compelling. It’s pretty racy though. This isn’t one to watch with the kiddies — but that’s what makes it work. This is no sanitized “Pirates of the Caribbean.” It’s dirty. It’s gritty. There is lots and lots of sex. Honestly, how do you do a show about pirates without that? Even better? There are a ton of really powerful, fully-realized female characters here, some of them based on real women of the time. Check it out and tweet with me after the show each week! Pirates, you guys. Pirates!