With “Game of Thrones” wrapping up next year, it was only a matter of time before creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss announced their next project — a highly anticipated one, given their huge success on TV so far. On Wednesday, HBO confirmed that the pair will stay at the network to launch a new series called “Confederate.” Here’s what it’s about:
“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,” HBO said in a statement. “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 it’s impossible to judge a show based on a logline within the first hour of its existence, it’s 2017, so HBO had to know that the reaction would be immediate on social media. And when you announce a show set in a world where slavery still exists? Well, you’re going to hear feedback pretty much instantaneously:
…and so on. There were immediate comparisons to Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle,” an alternative history series that explores what happened if Hitler won World War II — not to mention the recent cancellation of WGN America’s “Underground,” a drama about runaway slaves and abolitionists on the Underground Railroad.
The “what if slavery wasn’t abolished?” idea has been around in pop culture, from the 2004 mockumentary “C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America” to last year’s novel “Underground Airlines.” But this idea particularly set off alarm bells since Benioff and Weiss have come under fire for how they have depicted violence — particularly sexual violence — on “Game of Thrones.” And this is a series not set in a fantasy world, but inspired by real-life events.
In the release from HBO, Benioff and Weiss say they originally had this idea for years and imagined it as a feature film, but decided to stick with HBO and adapt it for TV.
“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,” said HBO programming president Casey Bloys. “Their intelligent, wry and visually stunning approach to storytelling has a way of engaging an audience and taking them on an unforgettable journey.”
Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman will join as executive producers and writers, along with “Game of Thrones” producers Carolyn Strauss and Bernadette Caulfield as executive producers.