Last week, HBO had many folks on edge when they announced an upcoming show that “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 show, which is titled Confederate, would be produced by Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who are White. Everyone from social media users to prominent writers like Roxane Gay have slammed the upcoming show.
Now, HBO is speaking out, saying the press roll-out misrepresented the project. The network’s president, Casey Bloys,spoke during the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills, California. “File this under hindsight is 20/20,” Bloys said. “If I could do it over again, HBO’s mistake — not the producers’ — was the idea that we would be able to announce an idea that is so sensitive that requires such care and thought on the part of the producers in a press release was misguided on our part.”
Bloys still defended the show, saying he believes it will be different than what people might expect. “It’s not whips and plantations,” he said. He also expressed his confidence in the show’s writers. “They’re going to be the difference. My hope is that people will judge the actual material as opposed to what it could be, should be, or might be, and they — and we — will rise or fall based on the quality of that material.”
A Black husband and wife writer duo Malcolm Spellman and Nichelle Tramble Spellman are also involved in the project and they defended the show as well. “There is not going to be, you know, the big Gone With the Wind mansion,” Nichelle said. “This is present day, or close to present day, and how the world would have evolved if the South had been successful seceding from the Union.” Malcolm added, “This is not a world in which the entire country is enslaved. Slavery is in one half of the country. And the North is the North.”