HBO's new drama Confederate hasn't yet begun production, but it has already sparked controversy over its alternative take on history.
The series, which comes from Game of Thronescreators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Empire producer Malcolm Spellman and The Good Wife producer Nichelle Tramble Spellman, reimagines the ending of the Civil War with the South successfully seceding from the Union. That results in a separate nation in which slavery is still legal. The show takes place in an alternate present day and centers on the events leading up to the fictional Third American Civil War.
"Confederate, in all of our minds, will be an alternative-history show," Weiss explained in an interview with Vulture. "It's a science-fiction show. One of the strengths of science fiction is that it can show us how this history is still with us in a way no strictly realistic drama ever could, whether it were a historical drama or a contemporary drama. It's an ugly and a painful history, but we all think this is a reason to talk about it, not a reason to run from it. And this feels like a potentially valuable way to talk about it."
Many have accused the series, which includes modern-day slavery, of being pornography for white supremacists. However, Nichelle Spellman insists that that won't be the case.
"I think what was interesting to all of us was that we were going to handle this show, and handle the content of the show, without using typical antebellum imagery," she said in an interview with Vulture. "There is not going to be, you know, the big Gone With the Wind mansion. This is present day, or close to present day, and how the world would have evolved if the South had been successful seceding from the Union."
Added Malcolm Spellman, "This is not a world in which the entire country is enslaved. Slavery is in one half of the country. And the North is the North. As Nichelle was saying, the imagery should be no whips and no plantations."
The show is expected to begin production after Game of Thrones ends in 2018.