Netflix recently released a six part docu-series chronicling the misadventures of Pirates and their way of life in the early 18th century. Focusing on the pirate republic base of Nassau and the surge of piracy after the war of the Spanish succession. High jinx and hijacks on the high seas!! Arrrr matey……let’s get into it!
Okay so a disclaimer from me, I have always loved Pirates and anything Pirate related. I was invested in this show before it even came out. Tv series Black Sails, the book Treasure Island, movie franchise Pirates of the Caribbean and even video games Assassins Creed Black flag or The Monkey Island series are all joyous experiences for me. I have long loved the idealisms portrayed in these collection of Pirate themed works. The adventures were ultimately a way for pirates to escape civilization and seek true freedom plus fortune out on the high seas. A romantic notion that resonates with me even in modern times. So yeah…I’m kind of biassed. I love all things Pirate!
To learn very quickly that many of the characters I had viewed in fictional works were based on real historical Pirates was a true revelation. Bar Blackbeard, I had naively assumed that most characters I’d seen portrayed in movies or television were complete works of fiction. Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny, Charles Vane, Woodes Rogers are all real people and the works of fiction I’d previously watched did not stray far from the facts. Their lives, adventures and deaths are just as exciting and interesting to learn about. As is the case here, the source material is more fascinating than any work of fiction.
The series over the course of the six episodes touches on many topics and none of them are anything less than fascinating. The liberation of slaves, the evolution of privateers into pirates through necessity, the forming of a democratic republic well ahead of it’s time and the underhanded tactics used to capture ships is truly magnificent to learn. These stories are bold, exciting and deserve to be told. Some may find some educational documentaries boring (myself included) but with such fantastical source material, you will be captivated watching every episode. As is the case with all good shows….I was left wanting more.
Each episode combines narration, set piece dramatizations and interviews with historical experts to tell it’s story. There are occasionally jarring moments in the dramatization bits such as poor CGI or obvious still projection for backdrops but they are few and far between and on the whole, don’t really take away from the experience. The acting in particular is remarkably good. Each character giving a compelling performance and the set designs are always solid. I particularly enjoyed Tom Padley’s portrayal of Charles Vane who comes across as genuinely frightening and unhinged. Episodes vary in length between 30-45 minutes but none outstay their welcome and when each one finishes, you’re almost always compelled to watch the next one. Definitely binge worthy material.
I’ve tried to give as little content away as possible as I feel that this is a series that can be enjoyed by everyone. Learning about such a fascinating period in time and understanding that the truth is stranger than fiction makes this a must-watch series for me. I highly recommend it to everyone. I myself am now compelled to dive into the history books and learn more about Blackbeard’s adventures before his demise or perhaps what happened to Hornigold after Woodes Rogers took over Nassau. It’s a rare compliment to a documentary that they’ve made me want to learn more!
What did you think of the series? Was it a treasure or a curse? Where was Guybrush Threepwood? Let me know in the comments below!