It’s been four years since the release of HBO’s superhero miniseries, “Watchmen,” which brings special attention to America’s long-standing repression of Black history and identity.
Based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ comic book of the same name, the TV series was created by Damon Lindelof, the acclaimed writer of “Lost” and “The Leftovers” who grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey. Lindelof’s series has defied expectations by honoring the source material and delivering a thoughtful and innovative story in its own right.
Set 34 years after the events of the source material, “Watchmen” presents an alternate version of America in which masked vigilantes were common before being outlawed for extreme acts of violence. Set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, cops are required to wear masks to protect their identities after a White supremacist group known as the Seventh Kavalry, murders most of the members of the police force in 2016.
One of those surviving cops, Angela Abar, must fight to stop the Kavalry when they re-emerge and protect her husband and their three adoptive children.
All in all, “Watchmen” displays how American society has suppressed Blacks and their history to the point that it has altered the way African Americans view themselves and are seen by those around them.
Given how characters like Angela and other police officers wear masks and engage in acts of violence as they unleash their repressed rage, the show also conveys the danger of leaving this anger unchecked and America’s dark history relegated to the shadows.
While “Watchmen” addresses racial conflict in America, it also explores the rise of terrorism and its effects on the nation since the turn of the century. To elaborate, the original comic ends with the villain Ozymandias teleporting a genetically engineered “alien monster” into the heart of New York, where it unleashes a psychic blast that kills three million people and traumatizes millions more.
This is all done to avert nuclear war by uniting humanity against the threat of a supposed alien invasion. The way the show touches upon this tragic ending and its lasting effects invokes the fear and trauma felt in the post-9/11 world.
While “Watchmen” has only aired nine episodes (so far), it has already invoked numerous conversations among viewers about the current state of the world with its analysis of race relations, bigotry, terrorism and a corrupted judicial system.
In an ironic twist, reality became more like the alternate world in this series as people began to wear masks to protect themselves due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As this global crisis unfolded, the world also saw a significant rise in protests over police brutality towards African Americans following the murder of George Floyd.
These grim realities have only made “Watchmen’s message all the more urgent, making it a must-see series for the modern age.