Game of Thrones creators respond to backlash over upcoming slavery drama

Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss think that the outrage surrounding their upcoming slavery-themed series Confederate is "a little premature." The two elaborated on their feelings about the drama surrounding the series in a recent interview with Vulture, saying that they were expecting the backlash but still stand by their story. 

Confederate takes place in an alternate timeline in which the south successfully seceded from the Union, leading to a modern nation in which slavery is still legal. The story, which also comes from husband-and-wife team Nichelle Tramble Spellman (The Good Wife) and Malcolm Spellman (Empire), follows a number of different characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone, including freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate, and slaves and their families.

The drama received near immediate backlash, with many criticizing the two white showrunners for taking on what they call a fetishized take on slavery. However, the pair defended their story, saying that they see the show as "alternate history" and "science-fiction." "One of the strengths of science fiction is that it can show us how this history is still with us in a way no strictly realistic drama ever could, whether it were a historical drama or a contemporary drama," Weiss said. "It's an ugly and a painful history, but we all think this is a reason to talk about it, not a reason to run from it. And this feels like a potentially valuable way to talk about it."

Tramble Spellman said that she was also drawn to the show by the ability to tell a deeper story through rewriting history. The writer said that the show won't use "typical antebellum imagery," and will instead bring slavery into the present day. "What was also exciting to me was the idea that in order to build this, we would have to rebuild world history," she said. "What happened in the entire world if one event had ended differently?"

Everyone involved said that they understood where the backlash was coming from, but they also said that they wanted people to wait until they saw the show to determine their final opinion. "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," Spellman said, adding that he and Nichelle are full partners with Benioff and Weiss. "Me and Nichelle are not props being used to protect someone else. We are people who feel a need to address issues the same way they do, and they should at least humanize the other end of those tweets and articles."

Spellman went on to say that the show's plot won't provide a wish-fulfillment for white supremacists, something much of the criticism surrounding the series pointed out. As he noted, racism is still affecting people in the present day, and the show will help to comment on how "insidious" it has become. "So the idea that this would be pornography goes back to people imagining whips and plantations," he said. "What they need to be imagining is how f***ed up things are today, and a story that allows us to now dramatize it in a more tangible matter."

Confederate isn't expected to begin production until after the final season of Game of Thrones airs in 2018 or 2019, so it could be a while before we see how the foursome will navigate the difficult series. In the meantime, read up on the untold truth of Game of Thrones.