If you haven’t watched Watchmen yet, this weekend is a great opportunity for you to marathon one of the best television series of recent years! HBO is honoring Juneteenth by offering the nine-episode show for free on HBO.com and on demand from June 19th through the 21st, with HBO and HBO Latino hosting a marathon starting at 1pm ET/PT on Friday.
Watchmen is a show that could have gone catastrophically wrong. Who needed a spin-off of an iconic 1980s comic? In 2019, why exactly did we need to revisit Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and John Higgins’ meditation on superheroes, violence, and Thatcherite England? But rather than rehashing the comic, or trying to go even darker or even grittier, showrunner Damon Lindelof did two extraordinary things: he only used the comic as backstory, and he handed control of the show over to a diverse writers’ room, who reimagined the story from the ground up and transposed Moore and Gibbons’ anti-fascist story into a brooding look at police violence and white supremacy. The show went on to win a Peabody Award, which was accepted by Lindelof and Regina King in this lovely remote acceptance speech.
The show begins in an alternate modern-day Tulsa, Oklahoma. Thirty years after the alien squid attack on New York City, people who were there still live with PTSD, and people who weren’t obsessively watch Steven Spielberg’s movie about it. Vietnam is the U.S.’ 51st state. News networks show footage of Dr. Manhattan on Mars. A liberal presidential administration has mandated content warnings on all TV shows, and people are taught the truth about atrocities like 1921’s Tulsa Race Massacre. And if people want to wear masks they do it on the police payroll. Angela Abar/“Sister Night” (played by Regina King as the coolest mask of all time) investigates a case that seems tangled up in the Race Massacre, a terrorist plot, and possibly even Vietnamese freedom fighters. Meanwhile, a mysterious nobleman (Jeremy Irons) with ties to Dr. Manhattan, Laurie Juspeczyk, and Dan Dreiberg attempts to escape a country estate that functions as his prison.
If the show simply contented itself with being an incredible take on the superhero genre, that would be enough. Instead it turns into a powerful look at the fraught nature of Black genealogy, and the ways white supremacy and violence continues to shape the United States. It is absolutely essential viewing for anyone trying to live in this country in 2020.
You can find the full marathon schedule over at The Wrap!