This week, Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss revealed that they would be following up their hit HBO series with a new show, this one set in a re-imagined future in which the South won the Civil War and in which slavery remained legal. The announcement drew the ire of manycommentators online, who lamented HBO’s investment in yet another production that would turn black suffering into profit for a team, network, and industry long criticized over diversity.
It should be noted that Benioff and Weiss enlisted husband and wife Nichelle Tramble Spellman, who worked on The Good Wife, and Malcolm Spellman, who worked on Empire, and who are both black, as writers and executive producers. Whether their involvement mitigates concerns about the show is debatable.
The team spoke with Vulture this week about the controversy over the show's announcement, and to explain how they came up with the idea in the first place. “What would the world have looked like if Lee had sacked D.C., if the South had won — that just always fascinated me,” Benioff told Vulture’s Josef Adalian.
The two black people currently associated with the show said in the interview that they anticipated pushback. Spellman apparently told the two showrunners when they approached him about the show that he was “dealing with weapons-grade material here.”
The biggest takeaway from the interview is that the show is still being conceptualized. There is no script, no outline, or even character names, suggesting that there’s a chance the finished product won't be like anything we can imagine. For better or worse.
Correction:This article has been updated to correctly attribute news sources.