In the light of their ongoing massive success as directors of ‘Game of Thrones’, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss announced their newly approved HBO project ‘Confederate’ this week – and have caused sharp division on social media in doing so.

‘Confederate’ is to create an alternative universe of parallel history, in which the Civil War led to the secession of the southern states and in which therefore slavery is still legal.

The show “chronicles the events leading to the Third American Civil War. The series takes place in an alternate timeline, where the southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution,” according to the HBO press release on Wednesday (July 19th) according to Entertainment Weekly.

Game of Thrones'Game of Thrones' is currently in its penultimate season

“We have discussed ‘Confederate’ for years, originally as a concept for a feature film,” said ‘GoT’s creators, writers and producers Benioff and Weiss in a joint statement. “But our experience on ‘Game of Thrones’ has convinced us that no one provides a bigger, better storytelling canvas than HBO.”

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While some onlookers said they were looking forward to another ‘alternative history’ series a la ‘The Man In The High Castle’, many claimed that HBO’s green-lighting of a series on slavery was problematic.

“The writers of a fantasy show with no black people can’t wait to write a fantasy show where the black roles are… slaves,” one person wrote on Twitter, typical of the criticism.

Benioff and Weiss will be showrunners, but the executive producers on ‘Confederate’ were announced as Malcolm Spellman and Nichelle Tramble Spellman, both African-Americans.

HBO’s announcement comes as ‘Game of Thrones’ airs its penultimate season, with the finale coming in 2018 or 2019, and spin-offs not involving Benioff or Weiss set to come after that. Production on ‘Confederate’ will commence after that final season, so its likely it will be at least 2020 by the time viewers get to see it.

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