Dear Gossips,

This week in Talking Pirates, there is big pirate news breaking in Hollywood. First is that Hong Kong filmmaker Tsui Hark is going to produce a film about Ching Shih (aka Shi Yang or Zheng Yi Sao). Shih is the most successful pirate of all time, hand’s down, argue with a wall. She commanded hundreds of ships and tens of thousands of pirates in her Red Flag Fleet, and she was so good at piracy the imperial government paid her to retire. (If you’d like to know more about Ching Shih, the Youtube series Puppet History has a good episode about her life which provides a broad overview of her sheer badassery.)


Tsui Hark is a major figure in contemporary Chinese cinema, directing films like The Butterfly Murders, Once Upon a Time in China starring Jet Li, and the Detective Dee mysteries starring Mark Chao and Carina Lau. He can do grand, epic historical scale, and slick action, both of which are fitting for Shih’s story. The drawback here is that the script is from Anthony McCarten, a wanted man for his crimes against cinema committed in the screenplays for Bohemian Rhapsody and The Theory of Everything

McCarten has a habit of perpetrating schmaltzy, wildly oversimplified to the point of pandering biopics, neither tone which suits Shih. She was tough, she was cunning, she f-cked and killed her way to the top and apologized for precisely none of it, I will commit homicide if her life story is reduced to some girlboss bullsh-t set on a boat. Hopefully, Tsui Hark’s influence can offset McCarten’s proclivities as a mushy screenwriter. Ching Shih deserves to be portrayed as the conniving bad bitch that she was, anything less is a crime against a pirate legend.


In other pirate news, it is confirmed that gay pirate rom-com Our Flag Means Death will return to Max—still the stupidest name—for its second season in October. Vanity Fair has the first look. I am very excited for the return of gentleman pirate Stede Bonnet and his unlikely, erstwhile lover, Blackbeard. If you haven’t seen Our Flag Means Death yet, fix your life. It’s wonderful, funny, and smart and unexpectedly romantic and emotional. I’m curious to see if the show, which is already taking huge swings with history, forges its own narrative path, or if it hews somewhere in the vicinity of real history, in which things did not end well for Stede or Blackbeard (gallows execution and boat murder, respectively). I’m also desperately curious to find out if Lucius survives. I am so worried about Lucius!

Live long and gossip,