The superhero show features the historical 1921 Tulsa Massacre and covers subjects of police brutality and systemic racism

By Benjamin VanHoose
June 19, 2020 01:48 PM
Advertisement
Regina King
Mark Hill/HBO

HBO is making its limited series Watchmen free to stream this weekend as its themes become increasingly relevant.

Starting Friday, all nine episodes of the series will be available to watch at no cost in honor of Juneteenth. Watchmen, inspired by the popular 1987 graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore, is set in an "alternate history" and tackles themes of police brutality and systemic racism.

"HBO is proud to offer all nine episodes for free of this timely, poignant series that explores the legacy of systemic racism in America," HBO announced. The channel will also air a marathon of the series, beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

From executive producer Damon Lindelof (Lost), the series premiered in October and stars Regina King, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Irons, Louis Gossett Jr., Jean Smart, Hong Chau and Don Johnson.

Watchmen recently won a Peabody Award for Entertainment, with King, 49, speaking on the forgotten true history of the 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma, massacre, which is at the heart of the show's premise.

"This show not only evoked thought and conversation but exposed history that had been forgotten, all while we were able to entertain," the Oscar winner said in a video acceptance speech for the award.

Added Lindelof, 47: "Tulsa became the foundation of a new interpretation of Watchmen, reframing the traditional superhero origin story, born not from the aftermath of an exploding fictional planet but from the ashes of a very real place in Oklahoma that was erased from history 100 years ago."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories

In 1921, the Tulsa Race Massacre saw a prospering African American community called Greenwood District — also known as "Black Wall Street" — looted and destroyed by white rioters. According to the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum, 24 hours of violence resulted in 35 city blocks being burned and about 300 deaths.

"It is in the memory of the lost lives of Greenwood — not victims, but mothers and sons and fathers and daughters and doctors and lawyers and journalists and veterans — that we dedicate this award," Lindelof said.

RELATED VIDEO: Watchmen's Jean Smart Says Series End Is 'Just Wild': 'People Aren't Going to See It Coming'

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly in December, Lindelof said there are no plans for a Watchmen season 2, though he wouldn't be opposed to more stories set in the alternate reality, provided they find another worthy story.

"There’s always going to be space for more Watchmen. I feel like this world is so expansive — hopefully more expansive now than it was before," he said at the time. "You could call something Watchmen and not even feature any of the characters who were in the original or in this season as long as they all occupy the same world.”

There was also a 2009 film adaptation of the comics directed by Zack Snyder and starring Malin Akerman and Billy Crudup.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.