It looks like Confederate, the HBO series from Game of Thrones showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, is officially dead in the water now that Benioff and Weiss have left HBO for an overall deal with streaming giant Netflix. The reported $200 million deal means that projects that the pair had in development with HBO are likely to go away, and none has been more discussed than Confederate, an alternative history drama that seemingly nobody wanted except for Benioff and Weiss. HBO stood behind the series when it was announced to jeers form activists and critics, then seemed to walk back that support as soon as it seemed Benioff and Weiss might not be around to appreciate it.
HBO announced Confederate back in July 2017. The series, which was set to take place in an alternate version of the United States after the Confederacy successfully seceded after the Civil War complete with slavery remaining legal, was immediately met with criticism over the concept. Alternative histories are nothing new -- Hulu's Handmaid's Tale toys with some of the conventions of the genre -- but there were concerns that depicting sympathetic Confederates and legal slavery in the current day was tone-deaf in a political environment where white supremacists using the Confederate battle flag in their events were mounting a series of combative and sometimes violent protests in U.S. cities.
Despite being greenlighted, the series was kept on the back burner while the pair finished Game of Thrones. HBO President of Programming Casey Bloys said recently that wherever Benioff and Weiss make their deal will be lucky to have them, but projects they have with HBO are unlikely to proceed at that point.
That feeling was echoed by Vulture editor Josef Adalian, who tweeted that while the sentiment should be “pretty obvious,” sources “familiar with the situation confirm that Confederate, the alt-history project Benioff and Weiss had in development at HBO, is now completely, finally dead at the network. It won’t live on without them.”
At the Television Critics Association winter press tour in January 2018, Bloys offered an update on Confederate that largely consisted of no update -- Confederate had no timetable because ending Game of Thrones was the priority. By the time the series was over and Benioff and Weiss were starting to plan future projects, though, it seemed evident that they would be leaving HBO. The backlash from Game of Thrones's last season likely did nothing to convince the producers that they wanted to pursue a show that would be protested from both sides of the political alley as soon as it premiered.