If you didn’t catch up with HBO’s stunning adaptation of Watchmen last fall, now’s your chance to do so—for free! The pay cable channel announced today that beginning June 19th through June 21st, you’ll be able to watch all nine incredible episodes of Watchmen for free on HBO.com and Free On Demand, “as an extension of the network’s content offering highlighting Black experiences, voices and storytellers.” The network will also air a marathon of the series on HBO and HBO Latino starting at 1:00pm ET/PT on Friday, June 19th—which is Juneteenth.
Indeed, when it was first announced many thought Damon Lindelof’s twist on the iconic graphic novel would be rather sci-fi or comic book-oriented. And the show does stay faithful to the roots of the graphic novel in that regard, but also in terms of thematic resonance. Really more of a sequel/remix than an straight adaptation, Lindelof’s Watchmen tackles issues of race, power, and yes, police corruption as the series opens not with high-flying superheroics but an extended, devastating flashback sequence chronicling the real-life event of the Tulsa race massacre.
The nine-episode adaptation (it’s a limited series so it has a definitive conclusion) stars Regina King as Angela Abar, a Tulsa cop by day and a masked vigilante by night. In the world of this Watchmen, the entire story of the graphic novel version of Watchmen is canon and happened, and this picks up decades after the fact, with the world irreparably changed. The Ozymandias and Doctor Manhattan of it all remain intriguing, but what sets Watchmen apart is the intense focus on systemic racism in America, and how that’s examined through these disparate characters that Lindelof and his incredible team of writers crafted.
Watchmen is, quite simply, one of the best things to air on TV in a long while, and if you never saw it I highly recommend checking it out. It’s wildly entertaining and funny and thrilling, but also deeply resonant as it speaks directly to the world we live in today. A world where old wounds continue to fester.
Indeed, it’s both rather stunning and heartbreaking that this Tulsa-set show about race will be running a marathon just as our nation’s president hosts a controversial rally in that exact city, blocks away from the site of the Tulsa race massacre, one day after Juneteenth.
For more on Watchmen, check out our extended spoiler-free interview with Lindelof.