Amazon has an answer for HBO’s controversial Confederate, and they’re going in a bit of a different direction. The streamer is developing a drama series from Straight Outta Compton producer Will Packer and The Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder, set in a post-slavery reparations America. Packer and McGruder will executive produce the show, evocatively titled Black America.
News broke back in February that Packer and McGruder would be teaming up for an Amazon original series set in an alternate universe, but we’re just now finding out what that world will entail. Packer tells Deadline that the show is in “very, very active development,” and has been in the works for more than a year now, with McGruder already “off and writing.”
Per Deadline, the series’ synopsis is as follows:
It 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 Neighbor,” 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 industrialized nations on the world stage as America slides into rapid decline. Inexorably tied together, the fate of two nations, indivisible, hangs in the balance.
It’s no coincidence that HBO recently announced an alternate history series of its own in David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ much-maligned Confederate—that show’s announcement prompted the team behind Black America to go public with their project’s premise. “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,” Packer told Deadline. He declined to comment on Confederate directly, both out of respect for its creators and in recognition that the show has not yet been made.
Confederate has sparked a powerful backlash in the brief interval since its announcement. The far-off HBO series, in stark contrast to Packer and McGruder’s project, is set in “a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution.” Despite widespread opposition to that inherently upsetting premise, HBO and Confederate’s producers have held fast, imploring viewers not to rush to judgment and insisting that their story will be one worth telling.
#OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign, who recently organized a #NoConfederate social media protest during the latest episode of Benioff and Weiss’ Game of Thrones, is in full support of Amazon’s Black America. “I think it’s a much better representation of alt-history than what was proposed by Benioff and Weiss,” she told Variety. “I support this project as it will show black and brown people thriving in this country, something that isn’t shown enough on screen. I’m also confident that, based on Mr. Packer’s previous track record, the crew behind the camera will be much more inclusive than we’ve seen from Game of Thrones.”