Despite showing baffling confidence in the series before and after public outcry, HBO is holding off on David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ Confederate, a drama that imagines an America wherein slavery was never abolished.
The Washington Post (via Screencrush) recently published an in-depth piece on the state of HBO’s programming, including Confederate, which the Game Of Thrones creators are producing with writers Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman. When HBO first announced the series, it was widely derided as “slavery fanfic,” especially since the current reality of black Americans is far from ideal, to say the least, and Nazis are being referred to as “very fine people” by the president of the United States. It didn’t help matters that the premium-cable network initially touted the show as Benioff and Weiss’ vision, especially since their fantasy drama is hardly a bastion of representation. The initial statement also failed to mention the extent of the Spellmans’ involvement, an oversight in a rollout that HBO president Casey Bloys admits was poorly executed.
Now it looks like the show, while still in development, is a ways away from beginning production. WaPo’s source says the show creators “are not actively working on it.” When ScreenCrush reached out to HBO for a comment, the network responded “the four showrunners are working on different projects and won’t be able to focus on this new project for a while, maybe 18 months.” And it’s true that Benioff and Weiss have their hands full bringing their George R.R. Martin adaptation to a close, but there’s also the possibility that the #NoConfederate Twitter campaign that haunted all of HBO’s big releases this summer and fall made some kind of impact. At the very least, HBO got another reminder to proceed with caution.