The producers of HBO’s controversial “Confederate” series are addressing the backlash that ensued following the show’s announcement last Wednesday.
Focusing on a modern-day America where slavery is considered legal, the show follows a series of events leading up to the “Third American Civil War”.
Online reaction ran the gamut, with some curious, others shocked and appalled. Show creators, writers, and producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — who are also behind HBO’s award-winning “Game of Thrones” — are responding to the critics, calling the uproar “premature.”
Sitting down with Vulture, Benioff, Weiss and executive producers Nichelle Tramble Spellman (“Justified”) and Malcolm Spellman (“Empire”) explained where they were in the show’s development: “Everything is brand new and nothing’s been written,” Benioff explained. “I guess that’s what was a little bit surprising about some of the outrage. It’s just a little premature. You know, we might f— it up. But we haven’t yet.”
While some critics took issue with the show’s concept itself, others were concerned that two white directors (Benioff and Weiss) were at the helm, seemingly without being aware that two writers of colour (Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman) were also attached to the project. “I do understand their concern,” Nichelle Tramble Spellman said before echoing Benioff’s comments. “I wish their concern had been reserved to the night of the premiere, on HBO, on a Sunday night, when they watched and then they made a decision after they watched an hour of television as to whether or not we succeeded in what we set out to do. The concern is real. But I think that the four of us are very thoughtful, very serious, and not flip about what we are getting into in any way.”
“Empire” writer Malcolm Spellman added to his co-writer’s comments by clearing up a few lingering questions that are bound to travel the Twittersphere. “We’ve got black aunties…Black parents and black grandparents…We deal with the struggle every single day,” he told Vulture. “And people don’t have to get on board with what we’re doing based on a press release.”
“Me and Nichelle are not props being used to protect someone else,” he continued. “We are people who feel a need to address issues the same way they do, and they should at least humanize the other end of those tweets and articles.”
According to HBO, “Confederate” 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.”
The show is expected to air after “Game of Thrones” concludes its final season, in 2018 or 2019.