TV

HBO Should Absolutely Make an Alt-History Slavery Show

But Benioff and Weiss should have nothing to do with it.

Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

HBO announced on Thursday that the planned series Confederate is officially canceled.

The series was slated to be helmed by Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and had already received extensive criticism as "Slavery Fan Fiction." Despite Weiss and Benioff's best efforts to defend themselves from this response, everyone involved clearly lost the enthusiasm to see it through. Now we'll never know if the white guys who created such a tasteful depiction of the savage, dark-skinned Dothraki—and then basically murdered them all in a throw away moment in the trash-fire of season 8—would have handled the topic of slavery with the care and sensitivity it deserves.

Jason Momoa as Khal Drogo

Anyone even loosely engaged with culture could have predicted the criticism two white guys would invite by offering to tell a story about the South winning the Civil War—particularly at a time in our country when people are fighting over statues of Confederate "heroes" and particularly when it's two white guys whose sloppy approach to TV writing has so recently earned them universal disdain. But is the concept itself such a bad idea?

In the hands of a Nazi—or even a descendant of Nazis—an alt-history in which Germany wins WWII sounds deeply unpleasant, but there's a reason The Man in the High Castle makes for compelling material. It's not often that the course of history hangs so completely in the balance, determined by the outcome of one major conflict. And while the world has largely found ways to move forward from the bloodshed of the 1930s and 40s (despite the cyclic persistence of fascist ideology) in many ways the United States has never healed from the divide that nearly tore us apart in the 1860s—let alone the centuries of racialized chattel slavery that preceded it.

America is now more politically divided than it has been at any time since the Civil War. And while we continue to make movies that take place in that era—highlighting the horrors and inventing revenge fantasies—they haven't erased the idealized image of the antebellum South sold by Gone With the Wind, or the concerted effort to recast the slave states as noble underdogs fighting purely for the principle of "states rights." A responsible approach to an alt-history could explore the forms of oppression that American slavery pioneered, the subliminal ways in which many have persisted through failed reconstruction, sharecropping, Jim Crow laws, the carceral state, and recent attacks on voting rights.

Prison plantation The Atlantic

If HBO were a little bit smarter, they would take the seed of this idea—which Weiss and Benioff should obviously never have touched—and give it to a black creator who could explore both the horrors of Confederate victory and the ways in which the South never truly lost. Maybe Roxane Gay could work on it—or N.K. Jemisin, or Jordan Peele, or all of the above. There's no shortage of people who could do the concept justice—basically anyone but Kanye

TV

What Franchise Will "Game of Thrones" Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss Ruin Next?

What's next for the geniuses behind the "lady-folks and jocks" model of human interest?

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When I learned that Game of Thrones alum David Benioff co-wrote X-Men Origins: Wolverine–the movie that portrayed the 4th-wall-breaking antihero Deadpool as a skinhead with his mouth sewn shut–it made a lot of sense.

After all, Benioff and his GOT co-showrunner D.B. Weiss have a proven knack for treating beloved franchises like sh*t.

Finally breaking their silence after the overwhelmingly negative fan reception to the Game of Thrones series finale, Benioff & Weiss participated in a, quite frankly, baffling panel at Austin Film Festival. One Twitter user live-tweeted the discussion, wherein Benioff & Weiss almost seemed to brag about how inexperienced they were going into the project and how little respect they showed to the source material.

Highlights include Benioff & Weiss removing fantasy elements from the...you know...fantasy series in order to better appeal to "mothers" and "NFL players."


Then, right after revealing their ingenious "lady-folks and jocks" model of human interest, Benioff and Weiss abandoned the massive Star Wars project they were planning to helm in favor of their massive two million dollar deal at Netflix. But while this is certainly a boon for Star Wars fans, whose beloved franchise is now safe from the dull-blade hands of the two biggest hacks in Hollywood, it begs the question: What other franchises are now at risk of being destroyed by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss?

The Legend of Zelda

the legend of zelda Nintendo

There have long been rumors that beloved Nintendo franchise, The Legend of Zelda, will be adapted for Netflix by Castlevania producer Adi Shankar. And while not everyone loves the idea of Zelda getting turned into a TV show by anyone, Castlevania is an incredibly promising example of a great animated adaptation of a great video game franchise.

But the problem with rumors is that they're unconfirmed, so here's a worst case scenario that still exists within the distinct realm of possibility:

Netflix really is putting out a show based on The Legend of Zelda, but it's being run by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Worst of all, Benioff and Weiss subscribe to a particularly venomous brand of awful whereby their work initially seems great and competent, only to sh*t all over itself halfway through once you're already invested. In other words, Benioff and Weiss aim to truly waste your time, getting you excited and then crushing all your hopes and dreams with terrible writing and ridiculous plotting.

Their Zelda adaptation would probably follow Link and Zelda as they wage battle against the evil Ganondorf in order to save Hyrule. We'd spend the first half of the story experiencing Link and Zelda's growth as characters, juxtaposed with Ganondorf's descent into madness as he's built up into an unstoppable foe. Then, halfway through, Ganondorf would get anticlimactically murdered by Tingle, who would then become the God-Emperor of Hyrule, much to everyone's chagrin. The next four seasons would follow Tingle as he romances Epona the horse and opens a pie shop. Benioff and Weiss would probably think this was a good idea, because there are too many Zelda games for them to properly draw themes from, and "a man in spandex having sex with a horse" would probably really speak to them on a visceral level.

Naruto

Naruto Shueisha


In a lot of ways, the beloved anime/manga series Naruto is right up Benioff and Weiss' alley: It's an epic saga spanning many years (and even generations), it has a rich lore full of deep characters and tactical battles, and best of all, Naruto is full of things that, if done incorrectly, could turn the story into an absolute trainwreck––the ol' Benioff and Weiss specialty.

In their version of Naruto, just like in the original, we would meet our plucky ninja hero as a young boy. The first season would follow him through Ninja school and his first few missions, his rivalry with Sasuke, his unrequited love for Sakura, and finally his confrontation with the mysterious killer assassin Zabuza and the real world of ninjas––a world full of violence and bloodshed.

Except in the Benioff and Weiss telling, subsequent seasons would shift perspective to a singing ninja (a bard, if you will) played by Ed Sheeran, who travels the ninja world showing his genitals to townsfolk and sometimes using ninjutsu to molest the women. That would be it. No more Naruto becoming a ninja; this isn't about Naruto. What, the fans wanted Naruto? Sorry, this is meant to appeal to a more general audience, namely "sexual predators." Benioff and Weiss won't be reading the Internet comments either, because what the fans want doesn't matter and they'd rather not have their feelings hurt.

Star Wars

Darth Vader 20th Century Fox

What if: PSYCHE! Benioff and Weiss really are coming back to Star Wars; they just made you think they weren't, so you wouldn't be mad.

Imagine it's time for the new Star Wars movie, and oh boy, you nerds better be prepared for some crazy lightsaber action. Benioff and Weiss' Star Wars introduces us to a brand new Sith Lord, Darth Phallus, who uses his evil force powers to forcibly have sex with Stormtroopers during every exposition scene. This is because Benioff and Weiss aren't very good writers, and they hope that watching Darth Phallus assault Stormtroopers will make their shoddy dialogue seem edgy or something. But it's not, and there are no battles. This is just three 2-hour movies dedicated to an unhinged man raping Stormtroppers. Eat your hearts out, Star Wars fans, Benioff and Weiss are back!

But for now, the pair have wisely stepped away to focus on their deal with Netflix. Beware.