“If you can get it right, there’s a real opportunity to advance the racial discussion in America.” This is what HBO president Casey Bloys said after scores of people made it clear they didn’t, actually, want a speculative series about slavery in the modern age from the two guys in the above picture. Well, it appears they couldn’t “get it right,” because Bloys has confirmed to TVLine that Confederate, a show the exec was really excited about once upon a time, is really, truly dead.
Announced in the summer of 2017, the series from Game Of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss was set in an alternate reality where the South won the Civil War and successfully seceded, resulting in a world where “slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution.” The blowback was swift, and not only because the show was touted by HBO as the brainchild of two white dudes. Some called it “slavery fanfic,” and, as we opined at the time, such speculative projects are as tired as they are exploitative, especially in a country that’s still got a serious race problem. “[A]ll its exciting political intrigue,” we wrote, “revolves entirely around a fantasy where black people are still slaves, a fantasy that America (specifically white America) loves to indulge in.” Just look at how, despite there being a number of worthy contenders, the only person of color to be nominated for an acting Oscar this year was playing Harriet Tubman.
HBO remained committed to the series in the aftermath of the controversy, but said it was not being “actively worked on” come that December, adding that they wouldn’t “be able to focus on this new project for a while, maybe 18 months.” Since then, Benioff and Weiss botched the final season of Game Of Thrones, dropped a divisive finale, and disembarked from the Star Wars trilogy they were set to develop. They also signed a highly lucrative deal with Netflix, which was probably proof enough that Confederate wasn’t going to happen. Still, it’s nice to know we’re finally done writing about it.