Most likely the thought that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the duo behind Game Of Thrones on HBO, could do no wrong as they neared the end of their hit show and chose their next project. Then HBO dropped Confederate on the public’s lap and the reaction was far from one you’d expect for two golden boys coming off the biggest show in the network’s history. Folks like Roxane Gay criticized the future seres as “exhausting” and “offensive,” following the events leading to a third American Civil War in an alternate history tale where the Confederacy successfully seceded, slavery is still legal, and the Mason-Dixon line is now a DMZ.
While the series seems to be an expansive look at the world that exists in this alternate timeline, it was always going to rub people the wrong and was left to imaginations of viewers and critics after it was announced in a press release. This is where HBO knew they’d made a wrong turn according to The Hollywood Reporter. Programming president Casey Bloys shared this regret during the HBO panel at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour:
“If I had it to do over again, I would have the four producers sit with journalists,” said Bloys. “HBO’s mistake was [thinking] that we would be able to announce an idea that was so sensitive in a press release. … People don’t have the benefit of the context from the producers that we had.”
He adds that the show is not going to be “Gone With The Wind 2017” and it’s not all “whips and plantations,” keeping with that “wait and see” attitude that was shared by Benioff, Weiss, Malcolm Spellman, and Nichelle Tramble Spellman when they attempted to respond to the backlash last week.
This was far from the only controversy that HBO had to face down during their TCA appearance. The topic of Bill Maher was brought up by someone in attendance, forcing Bloys and others to do their best to skirt around the incident with Maher using the n-word earlier this season. According to Deadline, Bloys and others acknowledged the event happened, but was quick to assure everybody that the network has a good relationship with the show and the ratings for their late night offerings are great:
“Bill’s up a million,” HBO EVP Quentin Schaffer said from the audience.
“Obviously, I think the current administration and people’s distress and wanting someone to kind of interpret what’s going on has a lot to do with that. And we’re thrilled with Bill’s performance and all of the new shows’ performances,”
Confederate definitely overshadowed this and other announcements at the event, though, so it’ll be interesting to see if the furor dies down until the show premieres or if it will continue a force the network back to the drawing board. Giving it a shot doesn’t seem like the worst idea in the world, but viewers do not have to stick around if the show turns out to be the horrible decision they expected. There are far too many options on television.
(Via The Hollywood Reporter / Deadline)