On Wednesday, HBO announced that it’s developing a new series called Confederate, written by Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and coming at the earliest in 2019. The show takes place in an alternate reality in which the Confederacy won the Civil War and enslavement “remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution.”
Dystopian alternate histories can be great settings for fiction; The Man in the High Castle and Watchmen come to mind as two examples. But as the Twitter reaction to HBO’s news indicates, many people doubt that this series will be similarly effective.
Folks brought up a range of concerns about the show. Many were skeptical that two white men — and especially Benioff and Weiss, who designed Game of Thrones to be an overwhelmingly white world — would handle the material appropriately.
Predictions circulated about various offensive plot lines the white creators might come up with.
Many people felt that this show, which will undoubtedly be full of brutal depictions of racism, is particularly ill-suited for our political moment.
Others felt that the show will be incorrectly insinuating that the Civil War resulted in equality for black Americans by presenting a society that oppresses black people as a fictional, alternate history.
People of color are already inadequately representated on television, so many folks would rather get a show that portrays empowered black characters — maybe an alternate Civil War history that ends in more equity, not less.
Maybe this backlash will be enough to convince HBO to rethink the show. After all, they don’t plan to begin production until after Game of Thrones wraps up in 2018, so they’ve got at least a year to think this over and percolate in the outraged firestorm.