What Is Watchmen Saying About Race in America?

Watchmen race

HBO’s Watchmen touches on reparations, racist vigilantism, and the destruction, 100 years ago, of the African-American business mecca known as Black Wall Street. But what is the show actually saying about race?

That’s one of the main questions we try to unpack in the new Low Key podcast, which you can listen to on your favorite podcast platform (see below) or right here:

Every week on Low Key, your hosts Aaron Lanton, Keith Dennie and I talk about pop culture moments we think others may have missed, often through a racial lens. We like comic books and superheroes. Watchmen seems made for us.

Also read: How Dave Chappelle Inspired a Wesley Snipes Scene in Dolemite Is My Name

And we do like Watchmen. The acting, cinematography, and music are top-notch, and we’re intrigued by how it plays with the mythology created by the Zack Snyder’s Watchmen film, and its source material, the Watchmen limited series by Alan Moore.

But like most people who watch the show, we have no idea where it’s going. Which is a writing issue. The writes of the show, led by show runner Damon Lindelof, a very respected screenwriter, are playing a long game in betting that we’ll grow more engaged when they choose not to solve mysteries, instead of less engaged. It’s a compelling balancing act.

But it’s also a dangerous one, because the longer the wait, the better the payoff needs to be. Does Watchmen have something new or unique to say about how the racial issues in the show parallel those in the real world?

What we’re hoping it isn’t doing is using race as a plot device. Our continued watching of Watchmen amounts to our giving it the benefit of the doubt that there’s an important payoff coming up.

We also talk this episode about lower-stakes mysteries, like what’s become of Doctor Manhattan, and where Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt (Jeremy Irons) is being help captive. We aren’t 100 percent convinced its on Earth.

If you like this episode, please subscribe and rate us on iTunes. And check out the MovieMaker Interviews podcast for that Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (Dolemite Is My Name) interview that comes up at the end of this episode.

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