TV & Entertainment

HBO Asks Viewers to ‘Reserve Judgement’ on ‘Confederate’ Series

Please reserve judgment. That’s HBO’s message to viewers who are already taking to social media to protest its new show, ‘Confederate.’

A social media firestorm is blazing away over the upcoming HBO program Confederate.

There’s just one curious thing: the show hasn’t premiered yet. No one has seen an episode yet. No episode has even been produced yet.

HBO describes the show as a project that’s still in its “infancy.” 

The premise of the show is that the Confederate States of America somehow manages to win the Civil War and apparently becomes its own nation. HBO, through its official Medium account, describes the show in this way:

Confederate chronicles events leading to the “Third American Civil War”. It 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 story follows a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone – freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate, and the families of people in their thrall.

HBO’s message to the many people already upset about the series is simple: Reserve judgment until you actually see it.

Reserve judgment?

Where has HBO been in the past 10 years? Our society has, quite simply, lost the ability to “reserve judgment” on anything. One of the greatest advantages — and greatest curses — of social media is that it allows people to spread their opinion to the masses whether its a well-thought-out, well-researched opinion or not.

Social media is powered, in part, by a society with an ichy trigger finger, ready to pounce on any kind of protest or movement they see that might be applicable to them. And in this case, folks are jumping all over the premise of Confederate as well as the possibility that such a show could exist.

Alternate history is nothing new as a genre, of course. Wikipedia points out one of the earliest examples written for the masses was 1836’s History of the Universal Monarchy: Napoleon And The Conquest Of The World, in which author Louis Geoffroy told the story of Napoleon coming out the victor in the French invasion of Russia in 1811 and in an invasion of England in 1814, later unifying the world under his rule.

But this battle over a show that has yet to be produced has a hot-button racial component.

During Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones, the hashtag #NoConfederate became the number one trending topic in the United States and the second-highest trending topic around the world. The hashtag was started by the same activist behind the #OscarsSoWhite movement.

HBO’s suggestion that people should “reserve judgment” is particularly amusing. They may be the only ones on the planet who think that will actually happen.

Way back in 2006, the American Family Association declared war on an NBC dramedy titled The Book of Daniel for an obvious attempt to “mock” Christianity. The trouble then, as now, is that the group condemned the show before it had ever seen it. The show ended after only eight episodes — and all of those didn’t even air on the network. But it wasn’t because of the AFA; it was because the ratings weren’t that good.

Criticizing something before it’s actually even seen, and in the case of Confederate, before it’s even made, is nothing new.

And it’s not going away any time soon.

Perhaps there’s nothing good to come out of a show about “what if.” 

But maybe there’s a chance that some of us might realize that despite all of the problems that still exist — and, frankly, will always exist — we actually have made some progress, and things aren’t quite as bad as they used to be.

Maybe there’s a message of hope that might be taken from that if people remain open-minded.

Of course, the chance of everyone staying open-minded is about as good as everyone reserving judgment.

So I’m not holding my breath.

Would you have any interest in watching a show with the premise that the Confederacy won the Civil War? Why or why not?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.