Creators of HBO’s "Confederate" respond to backlash

Posted on: July 21st, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

(L-R) David Benioff and D. B. Weiss — Getty Images/Steve Granitz(LOS ANGELES) — When HBO announced it would be producing a new series, Confederate, involving an alternate timeline in which the south has seceded and slavery still exists, backlash was pretty severe.

Supergirl actor David Harewood tweeted, “Good luck finding black actors for this project.” And writer Roxane Gay tweeted, “It is exhausting to think of how many people at @HBO said yes to letting two white men envision modern day slavery. And offensive.”

But the show’s creators, Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — and their partners in Confederate, the African-American husband and wife writers and producers Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman — are defending the show and its premise. 

Speaking with Vulture, the team said they expected to take fire.  “We all knew it was coming in one form or another,” Benioff said.  And Malcolm Spellman recalled reacting to the premise by saying, “You’re dealing with weapons-grade material here.”

“It goes without saying slavery is the worst thing that ever happened in American history,” Weiss said.  “It’s our original sin as a nation. And history doesn’t disappear.  That sin is still with us in many ways.”

But Confederate, he said is a “science-fiction show,” and as such  “…can show us how this history is still with us in a way that strictly realistic drama ever could….”

Nichelle Spellman, who worked on The Good Wife, recalled the team’s original meeting, saying, “I just remember being so excited — and absolutely terrified at the same time.”

“In this futuristic world, you could have this conversation in a straightforward manner without it being steeped in history,” she said.

Nichelle understands people’s concerns but adds, “I wish their concern had been reserved to the night of the premiere…” after they’d seen the program, none of which, the team adds, has even been written yet.

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