Amazon is developing an alternate history series called Black America based on the premise that following the Civil War, freed slaves were given their own states as reparations.
The alt-history series will explore a world in which newly freed African Americans have secured the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama as reparations for slavery. The new nation, known as New Colonia, has a tumultuous relationship with the United States government.
Packer and McGruder will executive produce the series. Packer is a prolific producer, having recently worked on films such as “Girls Trip,” “Straight Outta Compton,” and “Ride Along” to name just a few. McGruder is best known for creating the comic strip and accompanying cartoon series “The Boondocks,” as well as the series “Black Jesus.”
Amazon is building on the success it had with its other alternate history series The Man in the High Castle which was set in a world where the Axis Powers had won World War II and America is occupied by Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany.
HBO recently announced development of a controversial new series Confederate which will tell a story completely opposite to that of Black America.
The announcement of the new Amazon series comes on the heels of HBO confirming that they are developing the series “Confederate,” which hails from “Game of Thrones” executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, along with Malcolm Spellman and Nichelle Tramble Spellman. 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.
The HBO series announcement was met with immense backlash, with HBO’s programming president Casey Bloys addressing the controversy during his presentation at the Television Critics Assn. press tour. “Our mistake — HBO’s mistake, not the producers — was the idea that we would be able to announce an idea that is so sensitive and requires such care and thought on the part of the producers in a press release was misguided on our part,” he said.
Despite the backlash against it, I expect the intent of Confederate is not to condone or minimize slavery. The opposite is probably true. However, the supposition that slavery could remain an institution until modern times is a rather dubious premise. The idea that slavery could exist in a modern America (Confederacy or not) is rather ludicrous. It implies no cultural evolution occurring over more than a century. Whereas Black America‘s alternate history asks “what if?” about one historical moment, Confederate‘s requires you to suspend disbelief about every moment between the Civil War and today. It’s a stretch to say the least.
Of the two series, Black America seems like the far more plausible premise, but it could squander that advantage if its creators make it politically preachy—something that could be entertaining and thought provoking might become a niche show appealing to only a very narrow demographic.
I like the alternate history genre. I hope at least one of these shows is primarily intended to tell a good story and entertain people. Movies and shows that are made entirely to promote a political agenda or message are usually garbage.