Note: This isn’t a full review(in fact, I primarily focus on the first episode) because I don’t have the time for it right now! If you want to talk about specific parts of the show, drop me a comment and we’ll chat about some serious spoilers!
HBO’s Watchmen series leaves me just as unsettled as the end of Jordan Peele’s Us did.
The two piece of media don’t have that much in common – one’s a miniseries that isn’t quite sure what it wants to say about cops and hate crimes and the other is a full-length film that unpacks Black trauma in relation to Black families, for one. However, the emotions I feel while watching Watchmen are the same that I felt while watching Us.
I love it.
I chose to watch Watchmen on HBO because I wanted to give the series a chance in a way that I didn’t with the film or comic. I’d watched the original film when I was working at a movie theater and then I’d read the graphic novel shortly afterward.
Neither thing moved me.
(In fact, for years, the only thing I’d ever liked about Watchmen was the film’s soundtrack.)
But I’d seen the commentary around Watchmen from a bunch of people I follow and… I had to check it out. So I got a week trial of HBO on Hulu (which I need to remember to cancel tomorrow) and spent time I could’ve used to do literally anything else watching this series.
And y’all –
It’s honestly one of the most fascinating television events that I’ve ever experienced in my life.
In 2020, I do not tend to expect a lot from HBO. The last big show event they had was the last season of Game of Thrones and it’s not like that was a series that was great with race/racism or ended well. So my hopes were pretty much underground with Watchmen. Dead in the dirt, at first.
And then the first ten minutes of the first episode happened.
I go in and out about how I feel about Black pain and suffering being used to make the audience Feel Things. Most of the time, it’s not done well and as a result, I dislike it immensely. But once in a while… once in a while you have something like the opening scenes of the 1921 massacre that saw “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, Oklahoma under attack by white supremacists.
I cried –
(Which… can’t be a surprised because I’m pretty much always crying. I cried for the trailer for the new Fast and the Furious film. I can’t look at Baby Yoda without bursting out into tears. I am a crybaby and I own that shit.)
The 1921 massacre is one of the darkest moments of modern United States history and a reminder that white supremacy has been woven into this country’s fabric from day one. Folks being able to drive cars and watch movies in the theater didn’t mean that the nasty beliefs that killed – and continues to kill – us for who we were stopped existing.
(Actually there were thousands of documented lynchings in the decades following Birth of a Nation and we know that Black people being essentially hunted and killed for sport was like… good ole entertainment across the United States for a very long time. And folks had television during some of that which is like… wild to me.)
And Watchmen uses it to shock, of course, but it also sets up themes of intergeneration trauma, the effects of racism on generations of people, and what it means to come home to where it all began.
I think there are a ton of things I think I want to talk about once I eventually watch it again. This is a show that pulls from the source material but then updates it in innovative and absolutely interesting ways.
And because I love lists, here’s a list of many things that I want to explore in some capacity if I get the time:
- Paradoxes in time travel (ish) narratives
- Queer superheroes in the 1940s
- Superhero sex lives period
- Angela Abar’s balance between tough vigilante-cop and mama bear
- How much I am attracted to Jeremy Irons
- Clones and ethics behind how they’re treated
- Lady Trieu
- Episode Six
I went into Watchmen with low expectations.
Because I’m me.
But y’all, on an initial and almost entirely uncritical watch?
I need y’all to know that I think that this is incredibly fascinating television and I actually, for the moment (because of course, what if I rewatch it and hate it somehow), recommend that if you have HBO that you give it a shot. It’s really good and at the very least, you will be entertained.
Did you like Watchmen? What did you think of the reinvention of this iconic comic property? What was your favorite episode? Your least favorite? Tell me everything!