HBO is offering all nine episodes of its hit Watchmen for free this Juneteenth weekend, no subscription required.
Watchmen is based on Alan Moore’s comic series of the same name, but creator Damon Lindelof described his TV show as a “remix” of the original. It takes place in Tulsa in 2019, 34 years after the events of the comics.
Regina King stars as Angela Abar, a detective and vigilante trying to find out who killed her friend and colleague. Much of the story revolves around Angela’s past, she and her fellow vigilantes’ fight against white supremacist group The Seventh Kavalry, and the aftermath of an apocalyptic incident that occasionally results in squid falling from the sky. Yes, it’s set in Tulsa 2019, but also in an alternative timeline where wars turned out differently, superheroes exist, and actor Robert Redford is the president of the U.S.
The series also references The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, a devastating incident that some Americans didn’t even know about until they saw Watchmen last year. Even Watchmen director Nicole Kassell said she hadn’t learned about it until she read it in the script. This may be because, as the L.A. Times explains, attempts were made to cover the massacre up and erase it from history.
But the 1921 incident depicted in Watchman is all too real, even if some of the show’s other history is not. Tulsa’s Greenwood District was a 35-square-block section where many Black residents had successful businesses. It was known as “Black Wall Street.” That came to an end on May 31, 1921, when a white mob flooded the area, murdering Black residents and destroying their homes and businesses. The Atlantic offers a detailed account here.
You can watch Watchmen free here now through Sunday.