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SYFY WIRE David Benioff

Game of Thrones creators' controversial series Confederate dead at HBO

By Matthew Jackson
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss 2019

By now you've probably heard that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the TV writers and producers who brought us Game of Thrones, just signed an extremely lucrative new development deal over at Netflix, brightening their future on the small screen even as they prepare to make the leap to the big screen with new Star Wars films. It's a big development for two of the biggest names in TV, but it also means that their most controversial developing project is likely dead. 

In 2017, as Benioff and Weiss were beginning work on Game of Thrones' eighth and final season, HBO announced that the duo would also be making Confederate, an alternate history drama that imagined a present-day world in which the Confederacy had won the Civil War, slavery remained legal in the Southern states, and the third Civil War between the North and the South was about to begin. The announcement was immediately met with backlash, and though HBO seemed to initially stand by the series, Confederate was shelved indefinitely amid the controversy. 

So, now that the duo are heading to Lucasfilm and Netflix for their upcoming projects, what happens to Confederate? In their coverage of the Netflix deal, The Hollywood Reporter noted that Benioff and Weiss' new direction "wipes Confederate off HBO's books." 

Does that mean the series is dead entirely? Not necessarily, as Benioff and Weiss could still manage to set up the series at their new streaming home, but given how swift and deep the controversy ran after the initial HBO announcement, that seems unlikely. The initial announcement was made at a time when Benioff and Weiss were the top showrunners at HBO, and now they'd have to make the case for the series to an entirely different team of executives, and that's assuming HBO doesn't already have a stake in the project should it take some other form at another outlet. 

The last update we heard from HBO about Confederate came back in February, when network president Casey Bloys said "I assume" Benioff and Weiss would return to the project after they'd finished both Game of Thrones and their upcoming sojourn into the Star Wars universe, but now that they're set up at Netflix, they likely won't be coming back to HBO at all aside from hands-off executive producer credits on the upcoming Game of Thrones spinoffs. 

So we have two writer/producers with a very heavy workload, a blockbuster new deal at a streaming giant, and a network who didn't seem to be in a hurry to get the show on the air anyway. It could still re-emerge one day, but that all seems to add up to Confederate being effectively dead as a series.