Cancelation of Confederate was "a low point" for Game of Thrones showrunners

When Game of Thrones was near the peak of its popularity, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss announced they were working on a show called Confederate. It was canceled after a huge backlash.

"Game Of Thrones" Season 8 Premiere
"Game Of Thrones" Season 8 Premiere / Taylor Hill/GettyImages

David Benioff and Dan Weiss are best known for creating Game of Thrones, HBO's hugely successful fantasy show. They have a new show coming up on Netflix: 3 Body Problem, an adaptation of Liu Cixin's sci-fi novel trilogy.

Between those two things, the pair were attached to a couple of high-profile projects that didn't end up happening. At one point they were going to make a Star Wars movie for Disney, but that ended up being one of many Star Wars ideas that got shelved before it reached the big screen. Before that, there was Confederate, an HBO show with a hell of a premise: this historical series would have taken place in an alternate version of the United States where the Civil War had been fought to a standstill long ago and slavery still existed in the south as a modern institution. The idea was lambasted in very short order, with people expressing their strongly held opinions about how the premise was wrong-headed, tone-deaf and offensive under the hashtag #NoConfederate.

HBO tried to do some damage control, putting out a statement and highlighting the fact that husband-and-wife team Malcolm Spellman and Nichelle Tramble Spellman, both of whom are Black, were producing the show alongside Benioff and Weiss. But the backlash was so fierce that it wasn't a huge surprise a couple of years alter when then-HBO programming president Casey Bloys revealed that it wasn't moving forward.

When The Hollywood Reporter asked Benioff and Weiss about Confederate years later, they reportedly looked "stricken" and took a long time to respond. “It’s kind of a low point,” Weiss said. “You try things that feel like they are worth doing and some of them work out, and some don’t.”

Obviously, we have no idea what kind of show Confederate would have been. The idea, according to THR, was to tell an anti-racism story. I have no idea if that story would have been told with tact and grace, or if the show would have contributed something meaningful and positive to the ongoing national conversation about race. Maybe it would have turned out as wrongheaded as the naysayers predicted. I see no reason, at least, to doubt the good intentions of Benioff, Weiss and the other producers. But it's a moot point now.

Benioff and Weiss' new show 3 Body Problem will premiere on Netflix on March 21.

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