When Confederate - the new series from Game of Thrones duo David Benioff and D.B. Weiss was announced, it was supposed to be a big moment for HBO: the arrival of the latest high-concept drama from the creative masterminds behind their latest zeitgeist-grabbing sensation. Instead, it turned into a PR nightmare, as the network's CEO Richard Plepler bluntly put it in a recent interview, "we screwed up in an important way."
An episodic drama that takes place in an alternate Civil War timeline - the South having successfully seceded from the Union - where slavery was never abolished and has evolved into a modern economic system, Confederate radically re-envisioned America's history. Following freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and more, Confederate was set to examine racial divides by wondering "what if America's greatest sin continued into oblivion?" While certainly audacious in scope, you don't just announce a show like that and expect a calm, collected response. It's going to piss folks off.
There's been little movement on Confederate following that initial explosive announcement, and according to The Washington Post, “the show is still in development, [but] the creators are not actively working on it.” Now, this could easily be written off as Benioff and Weiss being focused on the final season of Game of Thrones (which there's obviously just a tiny bit of expectations for). Or maybe they're actually taking criticisms to heart and are re-thinking moving forward with the series at all?
Certainly not helping their cause is the fact that Amazon also announced a revisionist Civil War series, Black America from Will Packer (Straight Outta Compton) and Aaron McGruder (The Boondocks) that offers a slightly more progressive perspective (not to mention people of color behind the project):
Black America 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.
Now that's the type of alternative history I'd watch.
So, will we see Confederate air on HBO one day? It's certainly possible. But the lack of movement on a series that was announced in such a grand fashion is certainly a sign that the network and creatives are examining their options. Only time will tell, but it might be best for HBO to just leave Benioff and Weiss' idea as just that: a notion that probably should've never been developed in the first place.