One of the most controversial TV projects of the last decade is now firmly dead, it appears. In the middle of the run of Game of Thrones, it was announced that the smash-hit series’ showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were busy developing their next HBO show: Confederate. The alternative history sci-fi series would imagine a world in which the North never definitively won the Civil War, and slavery still exists in the modern era as an institution in the South.
Immediately the mere idea of this series was met with backlash. After all, the ramifications of slavery are still being felt in America today, and Benioff and Weiss haven’t particularly been praised for their tact or portrayal of women or people of color on Game of Thrones. The showrunners immediately tried to combat the backlash, defending the idea of Confederate as a sci-fi series that speaks to the world we live in today. Moreover, the black husband-and-wife duo Nichelle Tramble Spellman (The Good Wife) and Malcolm Spellman (Empire) were announced to be serving as writers and executive producers on the series.
Needless to say, as Benioff and Weiss continued their 12-month-a-year job on Game of Thrones, the stink of Confederate never really went away. Despite the series being defended by HBO president Casey Bloys at the time, reports swirled that internally at HBO even staffers were upset by this tasteless idea.
The most recent update we received on Confederate came in November 2017, when HBO confirmed that the series was “not actively” being worked on while Benioff and Weiss focused on bringing Game of Thrones to an end (and we all know how that turned out). Now, in the wake of this week’s news that Benioff and Weiss just signed a $200 million deal to create new films and TV series at Netflix, THR notes that the duo’s move from HBO to the streamer “wipes Confederate off HBO’s books.”
So while HBO didn’t secure Benioff and Weiss to continue creating projects for the pay cable channel post-Game of Thrones, the network did get to wipe its hands clean of a show that would’ve just drummed up controversy after controversy. Indeed, while HBO/WarnerMedia made an initial attempt to sign Benioff and Weiss to an overall deal, THR says it became clear early on that they couldn’t compete with the mega-millions that rivals like Netflix, Amazon, and Disney were prepared to offer.
Amazon was reportedly the frontrunner to land Benioff and Weiss for an overall deal until this summer, when Netflix surged ahead. The two already have their hands full writing a new Star Wars movie trilogy for Lucasfilm/Disney, but in the wake of this Netflix deal, we now know where their next inevitable TV series will land. So what are the odds the idea will be as ill-conceived as Confederate? I suppose we’ll just have to wait to find out.