HBO orders new show “Confederate” from Game of Thrones showrunners


I would have gone with “The Man in the High Plantation” but that’s just me.

HBO has ordered a new show from Game of Thrones show runners Dan Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and it sounds absolutely bananas. Confederate will be an “alternative history” series, similar to the Guns of the South novel by Harry Turtledove and the hit show The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime.

“Alternative history” has long been a staple of historical fiction novels, but now with the success of TMitHC on Amazon, other networks are assuredly going to be looking at options for historical dramas that also have unlimited room for original narrative. It’s like the dream of combining Pride and Prejudice with zombies…guaranteed to be a hit!

A press release issued by HBO yesterday announced the new show, and being a southerner, when I saw the title, I had to drop everything to read the synopsis. And let me tell you…I’m not on board. Here’s the press release.

I have several questions from the jump. So this is the third civil war? What happened to the 2nd civil war? Also, with the assumption that the South retained their independence at the end of the 1st civil war, and are therefore a separate country from the USA…how can it be a 2nd or 3rd “civil war”? They’d just be wars.

I’m having a hard time buying into this concept as something that we need, let alone something I’d want to watch. But it’s only a high concept outline of the show, not so much an actual show description, so I’ll hold off on narrative complaints since there isn’t a narrative yet.

That being said, this show is going to have some serious hurdles to clear to get to where I’m sure they’re wanting it to be. First off, modern day slavery in an industrialized, first world nation that had actually fought and won the right to keep slaves is going to be difficult to normalize. Slaves driving tractors, running machinery, and using computers will, I guess, be a thing? Slaves can’t process goods as fast as machines, so they’ll be running the machines? Or will the industrial revolution have been stalled due to free labor?

Slavery didn’t disappear with the Civil War. In fact, there are more slaves now that ever before in history. Of course, the vast majority of these slaves aren’t in places like…Atlanta. And when they are in the first world, they’re hidden. I’m just having a hard time envisioning how slavery is going to work in the show. I’m also trying to figure out why slaves weren’t directly mentioned in the press release?

There are a lot of people writing off the show for not taking into account that “historians say that the South would have eventually abandoned slavery anyway, as it wasn’t sustainable”, but that is pure speculation, and it doesn’t even consider the lengths that Confederates were willing to go to keep slaves in the first place. For example, going to war to keep them. 

Urbanization may have cut into American slavery’s stronghold in the south, but when you learn about the Golden Circle, the Confederados and the New Virginia colony, you can see just how much some people believed in the practice of slavery, and how much money they lost after the south surrendered. South America and the Caribbean became the destination for many slaves who would have been in the American South after the civil war, and the Atlantic Slaves Trade was still in operation until the end of the 1800s.

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The Golden Circle also gives some potential insight into “Slave Holding Conglomerates”, and where they would probably be making their money. If the American South never ended the practice of slavery, then the Atlantic Slave Trade may have never slowed down. The impact this would have on the world is certainly an interesting, if not morbid, question that the show will probably try to play with.

Lastly, and this was actually the first thing that I thought of since I am a son of the South, I’m afraid of the show inadvertently creating sympathetic racists. While we almost all agree that “slavery was bad, mmkay”, there is a pretty substantial section of America that has a massive boner for the Antebellum South. They talk about the South “rising again”, and fly their Confederate Flags, and romanticize their/our/my past into something more rose colored than it should be.

I’m wondering if the next Tyrion will be an abolitionist…or a slave hunter? Cool characters are cool, and we are drawn to them, even when their bad people. This is, after all, the era of the anti-hero. But what will the blowback be if the new cool bad guy is a slave hunting racist jackass? What will the cultural fallout be from that? Will that embolden people to think it’s OK to be that guy, or act a certain way? Nazi Germany and Modern Germany are not the same, so it’s less of an issue for The Man in the High Castle than it will be for HBO, especially since Germany took such major steps to separate the past from the present. 

Next: Which Game of Thrones character represents your state?

Basically, Benioff and Weiss have some major things to consider when writing this series. I personally am not stoked for the new project, but I’m not writing it off, either. These two men have earned some leeway with their successes in recent years. But you’ll have to excuse me if I’m not excited at the announcement of the show. Hopefully, it’s more “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and less “If The South Woulda Won“.