The HBO project was announced Wednesday, described as a drama series taken place in an alternate universe, in which the South successfully succeeded from the Union in the American Civil War. The concept immediately garnered criticism, with many arguing that the creators of a majority-white fantasy show aren't the right people to create a show about slavery.
Now, in an interview with Vulture, Benioff and Weiss are speaking up about that backlash, which they both said they expected — but not to that level of extremity.
Referring to the critics — especially high profile critics, such as author and activist Roxanne Gay — Weiss had this to say:
Everything is brand new and nothing's been written. 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–k it up. But we haven't yet.
His sentiment was backed up by husband and wife duo Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman, who are both writers and executive producers on the show, and who are also black.
Nichelle Spellman said,
I do understand their concern. 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.
Malcolm Spellman added,
Me and Nichelle are not props being used to protect someone else. 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. You know what I'm saying?
Benioff and Weiss spoke of their love of history as inspiration for the show — and many of the show's early defenders are comparing the format to The Man in the High Castle, the Amazon series about an alternate universe in which Germany won World War II.
Here's the logline for Confederate, provided by HBO:
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 guess we'll have to see what happens — but you can't blame folks for being skeptical.