Tuesday, January 21, 2020

HBO Cancels 'Confederate' Series Before a Single Script Is Written

Back in the summer of 2017, America was in the grips of a media-fueled panic about Confederate flags and statues, which after 150 years were suddenly the source of all evil because Hillary lost. And in the middle of all that hysteria, the hapless writing duo of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss announced they were making a new show for HBO called Confederate. (If it seems odd that HBO was still in business with the two of them, remember that in 2017 they hadn't ruined Game of Thrones yet.)

Here's how Benioff & Weiss described Confederate:

"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."

It was an alternate history story, just like hundreds of science fiction stories and novels over the last century: "What if [historical event] had turned out another way? How would the world be different now? What if all the things we take for granted in our everyday lives aren't the natural order of things, but mere whims of history?" The most recent example of such a story is Amazon Studios' The Man in the High Castle, based on the Philip K. Dick novel in which the Axis Powers won World War II, and by the early '60s the Nazis and the Japanese share control of North America.

What if the bad guys won? What would've happened after that? As I was naive enough to ask at the time: A lot of people fought and died to end slavery in America. The outcome of the Civil War was not a foregone conclusion. It could’ve been very different.

What’s wrong with exploring that idea? What’s wrong with art?
Thank goodness we had social media to remind us that even asking such questions is racist:

With Game of Thrones EPs David Benioff and D.B. Weiss now tethered to Netflix via a mega-bucks overall deal, HBO president Casey Bloys officially confirms to TVLine that the pair’s long-gestating, controversial slavery drama Confederate will not be moving forward.



Anonymous said...

It is likely that the writers could not have imagined how to show the evils of slavery if the program had been produced.

Stan B said...

Maybe they should show how slavery in the modern world REALLY works as a series of documentaries on Modern Human Trafficking. They could start in America, where women are illegally imported and then forced to work in the sex industry, but eventually (after we've thoroughly condemned America for allowing and condoning such trade), we could move to Europe, where grooming gangs enslave the unenlightened children of the local infidels to provide comfort to brave Pakistani immigrants, and then finally to the Middle East, where the civilized wealthy buy and sell slaves from backward cultures to help drag them into modernity.

Anonymous said...

This is a frequent Science-Fiction topic. The best is Harry Turtledove's "Guns of the South" in which time travelers from South Africa supply the confederacy with AK-47s to try to preserve slavery. If you haven't read it, the ending will surprise you.