Network announces ‘alternative history’ series: “Black America”

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A week after HBO’s controversial announcement of its alt-history series, “Confederate,” which plans to explore a world in which the south won the Civil War, Amazon has announced its own alt-history series, “Black America.”

Utilizing the services of prolific African-American filmmaker Will Packer and Peabody-winning “The Boondocks” creator and “Black Jesus” co-creator Aaron McGruder, “Black America” will explore a world polar opposite to that in Confederate, where newly freed slaves of the reconstruction period secure the entire territory of the southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama as a reparation for slavery.

The plot will trace interactions between this new sovereign state, called New Colonia, with ‘big brother’ United States. Set contemporaneously, the show’s characters will ruminate on military incursions, assassinations, regime change, coups, etc., that have characterized the love-hate relationship between New Colonia and the United States over the 150 years since New Colonia’s creation.

Armed with the comfort of being a member of the race he is writing about, Packer admitted to Deadline that this week’s release of the show’s plot was a direct response to HBO’s unveiling of Confederate, which, with white co-creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, was a PR disaster. Onlookers strongly objected to the pair’s ability, despite their success with the hit show “Game of Thrones,” to accurately portray such a culturally-sensitive topic, being so far removed from the intense emotion that comes from being personally affected by it.

“It felt this was the appropriate time to make sure that audiences and the creative community knew that there was a project that preexisted, and we are pretty far down the road with it,” Packer said.

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the showrunners behind the hit HBO series Game of Thrones,” received negative reactions for their announced series.

“We have discussed ‘Confederate’ for years, originally as a concept for a feature film,” Benioff and Weiss said in a statement. “But our experience on Thrones has convinced us that no one provides a bigger, better storytelling canvas than HBO. There won’t be dragons or White Walkers in this series, but we are creating a world, and we couldn’t imagine better partners in world-building than [executive producers] Nichelle [Tramble Spellman] and Malcolm [Spellman], who have impressed us for a long time with their wit, their imagination and their Scrabble-playing skills.”

The new show explores an alternate reality in which the South wins the Civil War and slavery becomes a full-blown institution in the United States. They are promoting it as a depiction of the “third American Civil War” that follows the lives of “freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate, and the families of people in their thrall.”

But onlookers aren’t seeing the intriguing dramatic possibilities of black empowerment in the plot that Benioff and Weiss see, and don’t think they’re the right men for depicting slavery. One critic tweeted, “Two white guys making a show where black slavery features prominently. This is profoundly tone deaf.”

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