HBO and Game of Thrones duo David Benioff and D.B. Weiss found themselves in a bit of hot water earlier this summer when they announced their plans for their new series, Confederate. Game of Thrones aside, the premium cable giant has grappled with finding dramatic hits in recent years (The Leftovers is genius, but not exactly a ratings record-breaker), and the next project from the team behind their crown jewel should have been a surefire hit, there was just one problem — the series’ premise immediately earned controversy as an ill-advised miscalculation of the cultural climate.
Now, Confederate may have lost its momentum. according to The Washington Post via The Playlist, “the show is still in development, [but] the creators are not actively working on it.” Personally, I’m reluctant to read too much into this.If HBO did decide to drop the project afer all the that heat it wouldn’t exactly be a surprise, but it’s also entirely possible that Confederate isn’t being actively worked on because Benioff and Weiss are busy finishing the final season of Game of Thrones, something that no doubt requires a very full amount of their attention.
In case you missed the barrage of hot takes, here’s the deal on Confederate. Set in an alternate reality where the Confederacy won the first Civil War and founded a new nation where slavery is a legal, modern institution, Confederate takes place on the eve of a new Civil War. “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.”
The premise was blasted out in a press release without much foresight or thought into the racial and political overtones dominating America’s cultural conversation at the moment, something that HBO Programming President Casy Bloys later called “misguided.” Or as HBO CEO Richard Pleper later admitted a bit more bluntly, “We screwed up in an important way.” It didn’t help that the series was attached to two showrunners who have regularly found themselves in hot water over their treatment of the sensitive subject matter, the optics only got worse after Amazon announced their Alt-history series, Black America, and voila, Confederate became a PR nightmare.
You know, read the room and all. For now, we’ll have to wait and see if Confederate can climb out from under the backlash or if Benioff and Weiss’ would-be Game of Thrones successor is truly DOA.