This past Sunday, the news was dominated by the #NoConfederate movement, a hashtag activist movement started by April Reign of #OscarsSoWhite fame. But while the controversy rages on about HBO's newly announced property that won't even begin production for at least another year if not two (if ever), it turns out they're not the only ones who are planning a TV series exploring an alternate history of race in America. There's another show, Black America, on Amazon that is also in development.
Amazon revealed the existence of the show on Tuesday, saying that it's actually a show they've been working on for over a year. (Unlike Confederate, which is, at this time, still little more than a press release.) Headed by Will Packer, who is known for the Ride Along and Think Like A Man franchises, and Aaron McGruder, of Boondocks fame, this is a very different sort of alt-history show.
Here's the overall synopsis:
It envisions an alternate history where newly freed African Americans have secured the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama post-Reconstruction as reparations for slavery, and with that land, the freedom to shape their own destiny. The sovereign nation they formed, New Colonia, has had a tumultuous and sometimes violent relationship with its looming “Big Neighbor,” both ally and foe, the United States. The past 150 years have been witness to military incursions, assassinations, regime change, coups, etc. Today, after two decades of peace with the U.S. and unprecedented growth, an ascendant New Colonia joins the ranks of major industrialized nations on the world stage as America slides into rapid decline. Inexorably tied together, the fate of two nations, indivisible, hangs in the balance.
From the Deadline announcement, it was clear that Amazon chose to reveal the existence of the production due to the amount of press, and backlash, that Confederate was facing. According to Packer, it felt like "the appropriate time" to let audiences and the creative community to know about it and that they were "pretty far down the road with it." (One of #NoConfederate's stated aims is to stop HBO from even beginning to go down the road with producing their show.)
He also promised that McGruder's "sardonic wit" would be a major feature.
Packer said he would not directly comment on Confederate when asked, though he did say this:
...the fact that there is the contemplation of contemporary slavery makes it something that I would not be a part of producing nor consuming. Slavery is far too real and far too painful, and we still see the manifestations of it today as a country for me to ever view that as a form of entertainment.
HBO, meanwhile, continues to implore audiences to give their show a chance to get off the ground before judging.