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HBO cancels controversial Confederate series from Game of Thrones creators

Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel  The Man in the High Castle (and the television series by Amazon Studios based on it) imagines an alternate version of 1962, with the Axis powers having emerged victorious from World War II. Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss conceptualized a similar series, Confederate, set in a reality where the South won the Civil War after seceding from the Union

That project received the green light from HBO in July 2017, but has now officially been canceled in the aftermath of a massive deal that will have the duo creating TV shows and movies for Netflix.

The move doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given the pair’s busy schedule, which also has them working on a mysterious Star Wars project set within the sci-fi saga’s universe, in addition to other announced projects. The controversy surrounding Confederate also makes the cancellation less surprising, as the show had been plagued by criticism regarding its premise — and whether Benioff and Weiss were capable of handling such a sensitive theme — since it was first announced.

As it was first announced, Confederate was expected to be set in a nation where slavery remains legal and has grown into a more modernized economy. As with Game of Thrones, the series would have cast a wide eye across its fictional world — this time, America, minus the Emancipation Proclamation — following the stories of several different characters and weaving those stories together at opportune moments. The lives of slaves, slave owners, freedom fighters, politicians, journalists, and more were to be explored.

In the fictional world, the Mason-Dixon line has been transformed into the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone, signaling that the North and South are likely still in conflict.

HBO Programming President Casey Bloys was initially effusive in his praise of the two, saying, “We are thrilled to be able to continue our relationship with Dan and David, knowing that any subject they take on will result in a unique and ambitious series.”

In addition to Benioff and Weiss, Thrones executive producers Carolyn Strauss and Bernadette Caulfield were expected to serve the same roles on Confederate. The same goes for Nichelle Tramble Spellman (Justified) and Malcolm Spellman (Empire), who were to assume co-writing duties.

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