“We screwed up in an important way” HBO CEO Richard Plepler admitted earlier this fall about the announcement of the network’s “Confederate.” What was supposed to be celebratory moment — the new series from “Game Of Thrones” duo David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — turned into a PR nightmare.
The premise of the series drew plenty of criticism, taking place in an alternate Civil War timeline, where the southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution. The drama would unfold on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone following freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and more. To say that “Confederate” pushed buttons would be an understatement. It certainly wasn’t the right cultural climate to drop the announcement of the show, especially in a press release email blasted to press.
Well, word has mostly been quiet on “Confederate” since, and according to The Washington Post, “the show is still in development, [but] the creators are not actively working on it.” It could be that Benioff and Weiss are focused on the final season of “Game Of Thrones,” or perhaps they are taking a moment of pause to figure out exactly what they are trying to do with their premise. It probably also doesn’t help that Amazon soon after announced their new revisionist Civil War series, “Black America,” from Will Packer (“Ride Along,” “Think Like A Man,” “Straight Outta Compton“) and Aaron McGruder (“The Boondocks“) that offers a more progressive perspective:
It envisions an alternate history where newly freed African Americans have secured the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama post-Reconstruction as reparations for slavery, and with that land, the freedom to shape their own destiny. The sovereign nation they formed, New Colonia, has had a tumultuous and sometimes violent relationship with its looming “Big Neighbor,” both ally and foe, the United States. The past 150 years have been witness to military incursions, assassinations, regime change, coups, etc. Today, after two decades of peace with the U.S. and unprecedented growth, an ascendant New Colonia joins the ranks of major industrialized nations on the world stage as America slides into rapid decline. Inexorably tied together, the fate of two nations, indivisible, hangs in the balance.
As you might imagine, “Black America” was much better received that “Confederate.”
All this said, lots of shows go into development, but few come out landing a series order, and even fewer become monster size, “Game Of Thrones” styled hits. We’ll see what becomes of “Confederate,” but HBO will never be short of shows to move forward with.