Game of Thrones showrunners’ HBO drama Confederate officially scrapped
David Benioff (GEMINI MAN) and D.B. Weiss, the executive producers of HBO’s Game of Thrones have been no strangers to controversy. Their treatment of people of color as well as women on the long running fantasy series has often come under fire. The pair were also much maligned for the final season of Game of Thrones, with fans and critics lamenting the perceived poor writing and story arcs of beloved characters. Most recently Benioff and Weiss departed a planned STAR WARS trilogy citing time constraints due to the massive Netflix deal the pair signed. Yes, it’s definitely been a bumpy six months or so for the duo. Thank God they have their mattresses full of $100 bills to comfort them. But I digress.
Before the hoopla over the final season of Game of Thrones erupted, Benioff and Weiss found themselves embroiled in another controversy back in mid-2017. At the time HBO announced their plans for the show Confederate courtesy of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The program would have chronicled “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.” While the premise sounds fascinating, not surprisingly, the public reaction was decidedly negative. The backlash sparked the #NoConfederate hashtag on Twitter with many calling the show “slavery fan fiction.” At the time Weiss tried to address the controversy:
“It goes without saying slavery is the worst thing that ever happened in American history. It’s our original sin as a nation. And history doesn’t disappear. That sin is still with us in many ways. Confederate, in all of our minds, will be an alternative-history show. It’s a science-fiction show. One of the strengths of science fiction is that it can show us how this history is still with us in a way no strictly realistic drama ever could, whether it were a historical drama or a contemporary drama. It’s an ugly and a painful history, but we all think this is a reason to talk about it, not a reason to run from it. And this feels like a potentially valuable way to talk about it.”
Despite Weiss’ words and the hiring of black writers Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman, Confederate never really had a shot. The public outage essentially forced the show into Development Hell and it was shelved indefinitely. Surprisingly though Confederate never got an official cancelation…until now. HBO President Casey Bloys just officially confirmed with TVLine that Confederate has been canceled. Considering the controversy and the new career paths both D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have taken, this should probably come as no real shock.
Ironically, if Confederate had ever seen the light of day it wouldn’t be the first time a similar story had been told. The 2004 mockumentary CSA did something eerily similar. However, that film had the distinction of being satire while Confederate would have been an out and out drama. Still it’s interesting that a show like Confederate would be met with such derision while Amazon’s The Man In The High Castle, which depicts a world where the Nazis won WWII, experienced such universal acclaim. However, I don’t pretend to be an expert on the very complex and sordid history of race relations in America. I’m just a simple movie news editor.
In the end, I think this was probably the best decision for all parties involved. The show would have just been too controversial. Given the current political climate it’s unlikely the show would have been successful either. Somewhere in the multiverse there may be an Earth where Confederate exists but it’s definitely not this one.
So what do you guys think? Are you happy Confederate never saw the light of day? Would you have watched the show if it had come to fruition? Sound off in the comments below!