You’ve likely heard of Confederate, the recently announced alternate-history TV series from the showrunners of Game of Thrones, or at least the controversy surrounding it. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ vision of a modern day Confederate nation where slavery is still legal was criticised for a number of valid reasons. In fact, you can see our own executive editor Richard Newby quoted in this all-encompassing article about the backlash in The Hollywood Reporter.
By what feels like a strange coincidence, or some karmic balancing of the universe, Amazon Studios has now announced the title and plot for the unnamed project they announced earlier this year. Black America will envision an entirely different alternate version of modern America – one in which reparations were given to the newly-freed slaves in the U.S. These reparations took the form of the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, that have now form the sovereign nation of New Colonia.
This new nation, Deadline reports, “has had a tumultuous and sometimes violent relationship with its looming ‘Big Neighbor,’ both ally and foe, the United States.” The 150 years following the reconstruction have been full of “military incursions, assassinations, regime change, coups,” but now the two nations have enjoyed 20 years of peace. But as New Colonia ascends, America is in rapid decline, and both nations have to come together to help prevent this.
This new drama comes from producer Will Packer (Ride Along, Think Like A Man, Straight Outta Compton) and Peabody-winning The Boondocks creator and Black Jesus co-creator Aaron McGruder. Speaking to Deadline, Packer explained that “It felt this was the appropriate time to make sure that audiences and the creative community knew that there was a project that preexisted and we are pretty far down the road with it.”
The series will have hour-long episodes, and a “sardonic wit” is promised along with the drama. Still, the team is dedicated to writing the show in a responsible way. “Even though the story is set in contemporary society, not post-slavery, it relies on us being factually correct” Packer explained.
“It was something that was personally intriguing for me as a black American. You would be hard pressed to find many black Americans who have not thought about the concept of reparation, what would happen if reparations were actually given. As a content creator, the fact that that is something that has been discussed thoroughly throughout various demographics of people in this country but yet never been explored to my knowledge in any real way in long-form content, I thought it was a tremendous opportunity to delve into the story, to do it right.”
Packer declined to comment on Confederate, but he did disclose his own philosophy with such subjects. “The fact that there is the contemplation of contemporary slavery makes it something that I would not be a part of producing nor consuming,” he said, “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.”
He promises Black America “will speak to where we are now and the mistakes this country has made and things we should do going forward”. I’m by no means an authority on the matter, and look forward to seeing what people think of this announcement, but it from where I’m sitting it seems like exciting news.