Perhaps to assuage concerns, HBO pointed out in its press release that Nichelle and Malcolm Spellman, who are black, will partner with Benioff and Weiss as writers and producers on the series. Nichelle is a veteran of FX’s fantastic series Justified, while Malcolm has written for Fox’s Empire.

The premise of Confederate, at the very least, acknowledges that slavery was the root of the American Civil War. Despite the name, it seems unlikely the series will humor the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy,” a thoroughly debunked (yet still widely held) belief that the southern states seceded from the union to preserve their way of living, not the institution of slavery.

Still, the idea of a reality in which the southern states wield power and slavery still exists (and all played for entertainment) has understandably ruffled feathers. For some, the show inherently can’t justify its right to exist, even if it’s written carefully, respectfully, and with a firm grasp of slavery’s history and legacy.

An alternate timeline in which the south won the American Civil War has been covered before in the 2004 mockumentary C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, which was generally well-received by film critics. Ben Winters’ 2016 novel Underground Airlines was similarly controversial in that it involved a white writer imagining a US in which slavery still exists.

Confederate joins Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle as recent TV dramas to explore alternate histories of the United States. The Handmaid’s Tale depicts a near-future US that has been taken over by a totalitarian theocracy that forces women into sexual servitude. The Man in the High Castle imagines what might have happened if the Axis Powers won World War II and occupied the US. Neither show has met with nearly the amount of backlash Confederate received in just a few hours. HBO has not responded to a request for comment.

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