The dudes who write Game of Thrones are making another show for HBO. This one will be an AU treatment of the United States:
"Confederate" chronicles the events leading to the Third American Civil War. 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.
I'm gonna be honest:
I do not have a good feeling about this.
As I said to the friend who initially shared it with me, I'm not inherently opposed to the story device. I'm down with both dystopias and alternate histories—I was, funnily enough, reading this post dystopian realism" when her text came through. But there's just no reason for me to trust any TV show to do a good enough job of the super-careful treatment and clear, consistent social critique that this would require to avoid being EXTREMELY problematic. I can, with relative ease, imagine it being well done in a novel. It's easy to imagine, I should say: I don't think it would actually be easy to do, but I can fathom someone succeeding at it, and to a high enough degree to make it not just acceptable but phenomenal. But I don't have high hopes for that in this TV show. I believe that there is great potential for telling really good stories really well on television, and I believe that Benioff and Weiss are, at least sometimes, very good storytellers—they've done some good work on one of my favorite shows. But I do not have such high hopes for their telling of this story. There are lots of reasons, but the one that struck me immediately was that there's no way to tell this story well without navigating the issue of rape well.on "
Benioff and Weiss's Game of Thrones track record on rape is enough for me not to trust them with a story that prominently features slavery. Yes, some of the GoT rape is inherited from the books—but some of it is not, and all of it something that the writers were able to exercise control over. They could have made different choices in handling it, and they didn't. So, before we get to any other potential pitfalls, I already don't trust these men with this story.
But I do watch Game of Thrones, so I'm clearly capable of watching something that I also critique the hell out of.
Here's what makes me not dismiss the idea of "Confederate" out of hand. I believe in the power of well-told speculative fiction to highlight aspects of our world in thoughtful and powerful ways. Maybe even more than that, I'm *very* excited to see that Benioff and Weiss are not doing this alone.
Benioff and Weiss created "Confederate" and will serve [as] showrunners, executive producers and writers, along with Nichelle Tramble Spellman ('Justified,' 'The Good Wife') and Malcolm Spellman ('Empire'), who will co-write the series and executive produce. 'Game of Thrones' producers Carolyn Strauss and Bernadette Caulfield will also serve as executive producers."
They've built a writing and production team that isn't just white men! It's possible—possible!—that announcing this, from the beginning, as a collaboration with Spellman and Spellman is a good sign. So, I do not have a good feeling about this, but I really am curious to hear more.
And if by some miracle this show actually does make it to air, and it actually is good, I cannot wait to see how mad the white supremacist right will stay about it.