Following Game Of Thrones showrunner David Benioff and D.B. Weiss announcing that their post-Thrones project would be Confederate, an alternative history series where slavery remained legal, there was plenty of controversy on social media surrounding the premise. Perhaps not coincidentally, Amazon have now announced their own alternate history series, Black America.
Black America has actually been in the works for over a year, and will come from the sharp mind of Aaron McGruder (The Boondocks) and producer Will Packer (Straight Outta Compton, Girls Trip).
The then-untitled project had been announced in February, but amid the Confederate controversy, Packer told Deadline: “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”.
Black America “envisions an alternate history where newly freed African Americans have secured the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama post-Reconstruction as reparations for slavery, and with that land, the freedom to shape their own destiny.
The sovereign nation they formed, New Colonia, has had a tumultuous and sometimes violent relationship with its looming ‘Big Neighbour,’ both ally and foe, the United States. The past 150 years have been witness to military incursions, assassinations, regime change, coups, etc.
Today, after two decades of peace with the U.S. and unprecedented growth, an ascendant New Colonia joins the ranks of major industrialised nations on the world stage as America slides into rapid decline. Inexorably tied together, the fate of two nations, indivisible, hangs in the balance”.
While it’s arguable that perhaps Confederate should have been given a chance to at least air and potentially develop interesting characters and stories, Black America sounds like a far better show and is itself a more progressive view of society, exploring an alternate history without bluntly digging at and exploiting wounds from the past.
Packer said that the hour-long series is “a drama, but it wouldn’t be Aaron McGruder without traces of his trademark sardonic wit”, before going on to talk about his personal connection to the series’ premise:
“It was something that was personally intriguing for me as a black American. You would be hard pressed to find many black Americans who have not thought about the concept of reparation, what would happen if reparations were actually given.
As a content creator, the fact that that is something that has been discussed thoroughly throughout various demographics of people in this country but yet never been explored to my knowledge in any real way in long-form content, I thought it was a tremendous opportunity to delve into the story, to do it right”.
Amazon already have one successful alt-history drama on their hands in The Man In The High Castle, and have been making waves with their recent series. Black America, when it finally premieres, will come with a lot of hype considering McGruder’s pedigree and certainly has a strong chance of becoming Amazon’s newest prestige series.