Throughout history, the stories of pirates, both real and fiction have fascinated humanity. Whether they are seen as bloodthirsty and uncivilized criminals or rebels who didn’t give a sh*t about what others thought of them, there is no doubt that we are drawn to them.
The television series, Black Sails (2014-2017) followed the adventures of a band of pirates as they live and try to survive in the Bahamas in the 18th century. The list of real pirates includes Calico Jack Rackham (Toby Schmitz), Anne Bonny (Clara Paget) and Charles Vane (Zach McGowan). In addition to historical pirates, there are fictional pirates from the Robert Louis Stevenson novel, Treasure Island: John Silver (Luke Arnold) , Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) and Billy Bones (Tom Hopper).
Black Sails is one of my favorite shows of the past few years. While the show’s main characters did not live what some would call the most moral of lives, they were not all bad. They were fully fleshed out human beings, warts and all. I also loved the diversity of the cast and the fact that the female characters were treated with the same respect as the male characters.
I recommend it.
These days, everyone and their mother has their own podcast.
But for me, there are two podcasts that I count myself as a fan of: Unorthodox and Can I Just Say.
There is an old inside joke about Jews: For every two Jews, there are three opinions. From my perspective. is the backbone of Unorthodox. Created by Tablet Magazine, the podcast is hosted by Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick and Liel Leibovitz. Every week they talk about news relating to the Jewish world and have two guests: one Jewish and one not Jewish. What I appreciate about this podcast is that Mark, Liel and Stephanie not only mesh well together, but their unique world views allow all three to stand out in their own way. I’ve been listening for a couple of years; it’s a pleasure to wake up on Thursday morning knowing that the week’s episode is waiting for me.
Can I Just Say
Pop culture podcasts can sometimes get a little dull. Either they can veer too much into the fan boy or fan girl lane or they are just a tad too intellectual.
Thankfully, Can I Just Say is the perfect pop culture podcast. Hosted by Daphne Olive and Elizabeth Stevens, the ladies have unique and stimulating conversations about everything from Star Wars (their newest podcast about The Last Jedi was very interesting) to novels and their various adaptations (their comments about Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility got me thinking) to a hand-picked selection of Baz Lurhmann films opened my eyes to his abilities as a filmmaker. They also host a podcast entitled Fathoms Deep: A Black Sails Podcast, an equally interesting podcast about the television series Black Sails.
I recommend both.
In the mind of the modern person, the pirates of the 18th century who roamed the Caribbean seas are viewed through PG, Disneyfied rose colored glasses.
The reality of that world and the people who inhabited it is far from what we think it is to be.
The television series Black Sails brings together fictional pirates and real life pirates who once inhabited the Caribbean seas. While characters like John Silver (Luke Arnold) and Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) come from the world of literature, Captain Charles Vane (Zach McGowan), Jack Rackham (Toby Schmitz) and Anne Bonny (Clara Padget) lived and breathed the life of an 18th century Caribbean pirate. Adding to the story is a prostitute, Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy) and Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New), the daughter of a kingpin who operates a semi-legitimate business.
What I liked about this series is that the rose colored glasses are knocked off the face of the viewer immediately. This is a warts and all story of men and women who chose to forge an independent and often times dangerous life as pirates. This life is dangerous, dirty, bloody and not for the faint of heart.
I recommend it.