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The "Game Of Thrones" Team Is Making A Show About Slavery And People Have Some Feelings

"I'm lowkey already triggered by a show about slavery never ending and the pilot hasn't even aired yet." (UPDATE: The creative team behind the show has responded.)

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It was announced on Wednesday that Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are creating a new series for HBO called Confederate that will imagine a world in which the American South won the Civil War and slavery remained legal.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Confederate will take place "in an alternative timeline," according to HBO's press release, in which the southern states have created a nation where "slavery … has evolved into a modern institution," and the North and South are divided by "the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone."

Like Game of Thrones, the show will follow a large ensemble cast, including "freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and the families of people in their thrall," as Confederate progresses to "the Third American Civil War."

The show — written by Weiss and Benioff, and executive produced by Weiss, Benioff, Nichelle Tramble Spellman (Justified, The Good Wife), Malcolm Spellman (Empire), Carolyn Strauss (Game of Thrones), and Bernadette Caulfield (Game of Thrones, Big Love) — will begin production after the final season of Game of Thrones.

And the announcement has provoked some ~strong feelings~ on Twitter.

I'm lowkey already triggered by a show about slavery never ending and the pilot hasn't even aired yet.

@Shakestweetz Because HBO can't think of a better vehicle in which to feature lots of black actors than #Confederate. 🙄

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instead of a show about slaves what about a show where michelle obama tells us everything is going to be ok for an hour every sunday

I am so glad literally my entire feed is as skeptical and confused about the premise of "Confederate" as I am

Very strong feelings.

I don't know how you keep your sanity in a society so crazy it's still having public slavery fantasies. I really don't. Maybe you can't.

To Hell with 🖕🏾 @HBO #GameOfThrones 🖕🏾and their creators for the glorification of white supremacy show #Confederate .. 🗣️#DoneWithGoT 🗣️👋🏾

Some pointed out that although Confederate executive producers Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman are black, the idea for the show originated with Benioff and Weiss, who are white.

you know I don't actually want the confidence of white men pitching their idea for show about slavery, nor do I want them to have it either

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The writers of a fantasy show with no black people cant wait to write a fantasy show where the black roles are... slaves

Many people noted that Game of Thrones has had a troubled history with its depictions of slavery and subjugation.

GoT is a fantasy show, I don't think I want a reproduction of actual history that deals with sex/violence along the same aesthetic lines.

I think we can all agree that the most successful parts of Game of Thrones are the parts that address race, subjugation, and slavery.

ya mcm greenlit a show about slavery to the folks behind

And a few tweeted that Ava DuVernay's documentary 13th made the argument that mass incarceration of black Americans has become a different form of legalized slavery in the US today.

ok well this is called the united states prison system or did yall not see the @13THFilm

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Others said the idea of an alternate reality in which the Confederacy won the Civil War and slavery remained legal has already been covered in the 2004 mockumentary C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America.

I can't decide whether I'm more annoyed that the GOT showrunners think they can pull this idea off, or that it's no… https://t.co/isPHdo8HJe

But there were some people who were more cautiously optimistic about Confederate.

It could go horribly wrong, but if the point is that the alternate world isn't actually different than our own it could work. #Confederate

I'm on the fence about #Confederate. Alternate history is fascinating ground to cover, but you risk making slavery a form of entertainment.

Basically, the Game of Thrones guys + slavery + the Civil War = 💣 💥 💀

Me, watching twitter implode to the sound of HBO's #Confederate announcement

Representatives for HBO did not immediately return an email from BuzzFeed News seeking a comment.

UPDATE

Benioff, Weiss, and the Spellmans talked to Vulture about Confederate, which has not yet been written or outlined, and the backlash. "We all knew it was coming in one form or another," Benioff said of the negative response. "It’s just a little premature. You know, we might fuck it up. But we haven’t yet."

Nichelle Tramble Spellman echoed Benioff's sentiment: "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."

Her husband, Malcolm, said he knows that they can’t “change anyone’s mind.” But, he added, “what people have to understand is, and what we are obligated to repeat in every interview is: We’ve got black aunties. We’ve got black nephews, uncles. Black parents and black grandparents. We deal with them every single day,” he continued. “We deal with the struggle every single day.” He also said that when Benioff and Weiss first pitched Confederate to him and his wife, he told them, “You’re dealing with weapons-grade material here.“

Benioff added that doing Confederate "is scary, for all of us. It’s scary for different reasons. But it is a pretty terrifying prospect getting into it. We knew it would be, and now it’s come true. It’s obviously creating a lot of controversy before anything’s happened just on the basis of a press release, and that will only continue as we get closer."


Read the full interview at Vulture.

Adam B. Vary is a senior film reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Adam B. Vary at adam.vary@buzzfeed.com.

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