Confederate producers David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman have now responded to the massive backlash to the HBO series, following the announcement that it's moving forward. The show is set in an alternate timeline where the south states of the U.S. successfully seceded from the Union during the Civil War, giving rise to a so-called "Third American Civil War" in the present-day. Confederate was officially ordered to series by HBO this week and since then, has found itself at the epicenter of a storm of controversy - especially given the current political and social climate, stateside.
A lot of people were waiting to see what Benioff and Weiss' next project would be after their highly-successful stint as Game of Thrones' showrunners. That excitement quickly dissipated once people found out about the premise of Confederate. In the short amount of time since then, big names like author Roxane Gay and journalist Pilot Viruet (as well as many other film/TV journalists and regular people) have criticized the show, based on its premise and creative team alone. However, those working behind the scenes on the show have offered their assurances that they understand and appreciate these concerns.
The aforementioned producers sat down with Vulture to personally address the backlash that Confederate and all the creatives involved have been getting. Nichelle Tramble Spellman, specifically, had the following to say on the matter:
"The concern is real. But I think that the four of us are very thoughtful, very serious, and not flip about what we are getting into in any way. What I’ve done in the past, what Malcolm has done in the past, what the D.B.s have done in the past, proves that. So I would have loved an opportunity for the conversation to start once the show was on the air."
Her husband, Malcolm, furthered by explaining that the two of them are "not props being used to protect someone else" but "people who feel a need to address issues the same way they do" and asking social media users to at least take into consideration that they boarded the project with their own personal struggles with racism in mind:
"I don’t know that we can change anyone’s mind… but what people have to understand is, and what we are obligated to repeat in every interview is: We’ve got black aunties. We’ve got black nephews, uncles. Black parents and black grandparents. We deal with them every single day. We deal with the struggle every single day. And people don’t have to get on board with what we’re doing based on a press release. But when they’re writing about us, and commenting about us, they should be mindful of the fact that there are no sell-outs involved in this show. Me and Nichelle are not props being used to protect someone else."
The husband and wife producers have both worked on other several high profile TV series. Malcolm, specifically has been involved in producing and writing Fox's Empire, where a black musical royal family takes the center stage. The two have given legitimate points, but taking the sensitivity of the subject matter and Confederate's premise into consideration, it seems fair to assume that the controversy around the series is unlikely to fade away anytime soon.
Confederate is expected to start production shortly after Game of Thrones wraps up with its eighth and final season, sometime in either 2018 or 2019.