In a move so dastardly you'd expect Blackbeard himself to be behind it, Max has announced the abrupt end of Our Flag Means Death after just two seasons.
As confirmed by its creator David Jenkins on Instagram, Our Flag Means Death will no longer sail the streaming seas after it was unceremoniously cancelled. However, there doesn't appear to be any bad blood between Jenkins and Max's executive team, with the queer pirate rom-com series' showrunner writing: "It brought them no joy to see this journey come to a premature end. Casey Bloys, Sarah Aubrey, Suzanna Makkos, Billy Wee, and David Ruby have been incredible champions of this show. They allowed us to make something authentically weird and heartfelt, cheering us on the entire way."
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In a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson for one of the world's best streaming services added: "While Max will not be moving forward with a third season of Our Flag Means Death, we are so proud of the joyous, hilarious, and heartfelt stories that creator David Jenkins, Taika Waititi, Rhys Darby, Garrett Basch, Dan Halsted, Adam Stein, Antoine Douaihy, and the entire superb cast and crew brought to life. We also thank the dedicated fans who embraced these stories and built a gorgeous, inclusive community surrounding the show."
Our Flag Means Death is a rare TV comedy gem that's genuinely funny without punching down – and, for queer viewers, it's even rarer because of its inclusivity and genuinely amusing jokes about LGBT-plus characters and relationships. It was beloved by all kinds of TV fans, though – indeed, it found a spot on our best Max shows list and earned critical acclaim from all who saw it, as proven by its 94% critics and 94% audiences scores on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. Clearly, it's a series we'll *ahem* treasure, even if this is the end of its voyage.
Who fired a cannonball through Our Flag Means Death's hull?
We're unsure. Based on my social feeds yesterday (January 9), which were quickly filled with unhappy viewers, many fans were heartbroken by the news and suggested shows with authentic queer characters, representation and/or themes had an unfortunate tendency to be cancelled even when they did well. As one individual I follow put it, expressing a viewpoint many other posters seemed to share, "we need more gay pirates, not less!"
That said, it's not clear this was a decision made entirely in isolation by Max. Jenkins certainly intended to continue, telling Polygon in October 2023: "I think three [seasons] would be good. I think threes are good in general. We’re looking at three stages of a relationship – coming together, realizing you're in love, then figuring out what you have to do to keep that love, and move past it."
However, there were reports that Waititi, who starred in and executively produced Our Flag Means Death, didn't want to make a third season. Last November, he told Consequence.net that he felt that the core story, plus the relationship between Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet, had come to their "natural end" in season 2, which would make a third season redundant in his eyes. If Waititi was planning to jump ship, Max may have decided that raising the sails without the show's most recognisable star wasn't worth the risk.
Whatever the reason, it's a shame: Our Flag Means Death was a superb show and its cancelation has definitely left a cannonball-shaped hole in streaming comedy. It was, as Jenkins says, "some weird and beautiful s**t."
Our Flag Means Death is available to stream on Max (US), Sky Atlantic (UK), and Binge/Foxtel (Australia) now.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.
- Tom PowerSenior Entertainment Reporter