If you’re not excited about Starz’s new drama “Black Sails” yet, it’s time to start getting there. The pirate drama isn’t your typical bodice ripper, but instead combines fiction with history in creating arguably the most fun pirate story in current pop culture.
“Pirates of the Caribbean,” this is not. Starz brought out the cast and producers of “Black Sails” to the TCA 2014 winter press tour to promote its Jan. 25 premiere date. Though it’s not yet premiered Season 1, the second season has started production.
The Season 2 renewal was announced over the summer, but Starz says the decision was as much about capitalizing on time as much as it was a vote of confidence in the show. Two episodes of Season 2 have been filmed in Cape Town, South Africa, because it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
“Black Sails” explores the “golden age of piracy,” and combines real-life pirates like Charles Vane with fictional legends Captain Flint and John Silver. Somewhere between those two elements of the pirate history, the TV series carves out its own world, which is described as co-creator Jonathan Steinberg as a frontier tale.
“You realize very quickly when you start trying to prep this show why no one’s done it before,” Steinberg says.
With Flint being “Black Sails'” central character, there is the sense that this show could act as a prequel of sorts for “Treasure Island.” Steinberg says his hope is the series will continue to become more entangled with that classic story and eventually reseolve around Flint’s supposed end in that book.
“We reread the book before we really committed to this angle of the story,” Steinberg says. “I don’t remember as a kid appreciated how clearly unreliable [Long John Silver] is intended to be. That everything is self-serving that comes out of his mouth.”
He continues, “If the show lives a long and healthy life .. that that end will plug into the book in some meaningful way,” adding that he hopes “Black Sails” will “recontextualize the negative space in the world.” As for future seasons, Steinberg hedges that he will keep the show going “as long as there’s a story to tell.”
The Brits in the cast weren’t all completely in the know about the history of real-life pirates.
“Piracy was something that I guess I knew about, but it was really a mythologized version of piracy,” says Toby Stephens, who plays Flint. “I didn’t really understand the history of it.”
One sure to be titillating element of “Black Sails” is the lesbian relationship between Hannah New‘s Eleanor Guthrie and Jessica Parker Kennedy‘s Max. New is quick to defend the girl-on-girl sex scenes in the Starz drama.
“It’s really interesting because it’s a world where sexuality and boundaries have been completely broken down,” she says.
Steinberg adds, “It was really important to us that if we were going to explore this world that gender had to have to be a part of that beyond the stock wenches.”
The sexual politics of the world of “Black Sails” will play a much bigger role in Season 2.
“Whole stories are wrapped up in the very minute details of sexual [relationships],” Steinberg teases.
“Black Sails” premieres on Starz on Jan. 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Take a look at a new trailer for the show: