Game of Thrones creator/writer/producer/showrunner duo David Benioff and Dan Weiss have announced their newest project.
The public release describes that Confederate “chronicles the events leading to the Third American Civil War. The series takes place in an alternate 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 story follows a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone – freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and the families of people in their thrall.”
“We have discussed Confederate for years, originally as a concept for a feature film,” said D & D in a statement. “But our experience on Thrones has convinced us that no one provides a bigger, better storytelling canvas than HBO.”
The announcement was met with criticism across social media. Many people are concerned with the handling of such delicate yet overt themes of race, particularly during such a time of racial and civil tensions. Benioff and Weiss have come under fire before for the lack of racial diversity in Game of Thrones, leaving many to wonder if they are the right people to tell this story, if it is told at all.
Benioff and Weiss are joined by executive producers Nichelle Tramble Spellman (Justified) and Malcolm Spellman (Empire), who not only insist that the subject will be handled sensitively, but that it is a conversation that needs to happen.
In an interview with Vulture, Nichelle said,“I do understand [some people’s] concern. I wish their concern had been reserved to the night of the premiere, on HBO, on a Sunday night, when they watched and then they made a decision after they watched an hour of television as to whether or not we succeeded in what we set out to do. The concern is real. But I think that the four of us are very thoughtful, very serious, and not flip about what we are getting into in any way.”
Malcolm added,“I don’t know that we can change anyone’s mind … but what people have to understand is, and what we are obligated to repeat in every interview is: We’ve got black aunties. We’ve got black nephews, uncles. Black parents and black grandparents. We deal with them every single day. We deal with the struggle every single day.”
Alternative-history narrative shows like Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale (adapted from a novel by Margaret Atwood)and Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle (adapted from a Philip K. Dick novel) have also been met with controversy, but also with critical acclaim. Both shows feature dystopian takes on history.
D&D’s home network HBO has given Confederate a straight-to-series order, meaning that no pilot is needed. While no release date is yet planned, it will be at least a year before Confederate premieres. Currently, no scripts have yet been completed. Production will begin following the final season of Game of Thrones.
HBO Programming President Casey Bloys stated, “As the brilliant Game of Thrones winds down to its final season, we are thrilled to be able to continue our relationship with Dan and David, knowing that any subject they take on will result in a unique and ambitious series. Their intelligent, wry and visually stunning approach to storytelling has a way of engaging an audience and taking them on an unforgettable journey.”
This news comes as Game of Thrones nears its end. HBO is developing four possible prequel series. Benioff & Weiss are serving as executive producers, but with their hands full will not be writing for these shows.