weekend binge

Race protests, insurrection and fear: decoding the prophecies of ‘Watchmen’


Welcome to the Weekend Binge. Every Friday, we’ll suggest a binge-able title designed to keep you from getting too stir crazy. Check back throughout the weekend for even more gloriously queer entertainment.

The Prophetic: Watchmen

HBO took a huge gamble in 2019 with the release of Watchmen, a limited series that functions as something of an adaptation and a sequel to Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’ seminal graphic novel, and to Zack Snyder’s 2009 film. Though the show earned rave reviews (including from us) and scored a boatload of Emmys, nobody in 2019 could have predicted just how much the show would foreshadow the years to come.

Watchmen explores an alternate universe in which superheroes walk the Earth, including the Godlike Dr. Manhattan. 34 years before the events of the show, an alien invasion destroyed New York City. At the same time, Dr. Manhattan retreated to live on Mars, which eased a global arms race and helped end the Cold War between the USA and USSR.

Flash forward to Tulsa, 2019: a crime-fighting costumed cop named Angela Abar/Sister Night (Regina King, who won an Emmy for her performance) investigates the Seventh Kavalry, a white supremacist connected to the massacre of the Tulsa police department. Sister Night and her partner, Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson) uncover a plot by the Kavalry to lure Dr. Manhattan back to Earth to kill him.

More than that we’ll not reveal here. We realize that plot summary does little to introduce the overall plot of the show or the rest of the cast–we have yet to mention Jeremy Irons, Jovan Adepo, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Don Johnson, Hong Chau, or the incredible Jean Smart. For that matter, we haven’t qualified the prophetic nature of the show. Trust us that the mystery of Watchmen is best experienced one clue at a time.

That said, we can add that the Tulsa Wall Street Massacre plays a key role here, including in the creation of Hooded Justice (Adepo), the world’s first costumed crime-fighter. Racial justice, reparations, and an insurrection led by a cabal of white supremacists also figure heavily in the plot of Watchmen. We also report with some glee that queer characters do as well, including the bisexual Hooded Justice, his sometime boyfriend Captain Metropolis (Jake McDorman), and Adrian Veidt (Irons), a retired former superhero. Viewed less than three years after its release, Watchmen seems to have predicted everything from the #BlackLivesMatter protests of 2020 to the January 6 Insurrection.

If that doesn’t terrify you, dear reader, it should.

Despite the Emmys, the world has yet to really acknowledge the obvious: streaming series don’t get better than Watchmen, one of the greatest shows of all time. This weekend, take a moment to dive into the compelling thriller/mystery of this series. What it predicted about the next few years is uncanny. What else it could portend is terrifying.

Streams on HBO Max, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube & VUDU.