Critics honor top shows
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Atlanta’ win big at TCA Awards, which also salutes Ken Burns, ‘Seinfeld.’
“The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Atlanta” were the big winners at the 33rd Television Critics Assn. awards Saturday at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills.
“Handmaid’s Tale,” the Hulu drama adapted from Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, took home two awards, for program of the year and outstanding achievement in drama, while the FX comedy “Atlanta” also won two awards, for outstanding achievement in comedy and individual achievement in comedy for creator-star Donald Glover.
“Fargo” and “The Leftovers” star Carrie Coon made TCA awards history by receiving her award for individual achievement in drama for both performances.
The ceremony, which was not televised, was hosted by an energetic and musically minded Kristin Chenoweth. The Tony- and Emmy-winning firecracker made multiple costume changes, including the signature “Handmaid’s” robe and bon-
net as well as a royal tip of the tiara to “The Crown.” She also performed a pithy spoof of her “Wicked” number “Popular,” in which she renamed the awards “The Chennies.”
The “American Gods” star also invited Sterling K. Brown, celebrating the outstanding new program win for “This Is Us,” to join her onstage to perform the duet “For Good,” also from “Wicked.”
In all, 12 awards were handed out, including a career achievement honor to documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and a Heritage award for the beloved NBC comedy “Seinfeld.”
Results were determined from votes cast by the TCA membership, which consists of more than 220 professional TV critics and journalists from the United States and Canada, including this writer.
2017 TCA Award recipients:
Individual achievement in drama: Carrie Coon, “The Leftovers,” HBO, and “Fargo,” FX
Individual achievement in comedy: Donald Glover, “Atlanta,” FX
Outstanding achievement in news and information: “O.J.: Made in America,” ESPN
Outstanding achievement in reality programming: “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath,” A&E
Outstanding achievement in youth programming: “Speechless,” ABC
Outstanding new program: “This Is Us,” NBC
Outstanding achievement in movies, miniseries and specials: “Big Little Lies,” HBO
Outstanding achievement in drama: “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Hulu Outstanding achievement in comedy: “Atlanta,” FX
Program of the year: “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Hulu Career achievement award: Ken Burns
Heritage award: “Seinfeld,” NBC — Sarah Rodman
Trans ‘lives are on the line’
Hollywood has much work to do when it comes to wide-ranging transgender representation on television, according to advocates.
While transgender visibility has no doubt been boosted by mainstream shows such as Amazon’s “Transparent” and E! network’s “I Am Cait,” progress has been incremental. Of the 260-plus LGBTQ characters on television, according to GLAAD figures, only 11 were transgender — and three of them were on “Transparent.”
“Today, media images and representations of transgender people are about 20 years behind where media representations of lesbian and gay and bisexual people are,” said Nick Adams, GLAAD’s director of transgender media and representation. “We’re sort of where LGB storytelling was in the late ’80s or early ’90s, when it comes to trans people.”
Adams spoke as part of the GLAAD-sponsored panel “Transgender Trends on TV Today,” held Friday at the TCA press tour. Other panelists included Laverne Cox (“Orange Is the New Black,” “Doubt”), Alexandra Billings (“Transparent,” “How to Get Away With Murder”), Jill Soloway (creator of “Transparent”), Rhys Ernst (producer and director of “Transparent”) and Shadi Petosky (creator of “Danger & Eggs”).
The recent news cycle — from a military ban and the killing of trans women to the ridiculing of trans activist Janet Mock on a radio show and transphobic social media comments aimed at teenage reality star Jazz Jennings — has illustrated the ongoing plight of the trans community. The panelists agreed that a more wellrounded representation of transgender people in the media is crucial to combating the negative stereotypes that have long prevailed.
“We’ve got to tell these stories better, because lives are on the line,” Cox said. “Trans people are being murdered, are being denied healthcare, access to bathrooms and employment and housing because of all of these, sort of, misconceptions that people have about who we really are.”
Among the stated goals from GLAAD in bringing transgender characters to the next level is moving beyond the “transition narrative.”
“For me, I think transition narratives are most useful within [the] community,” Cox said. “Transition narratives, in and of themselves, are not necessarily problematic, but I think that becomes the only thing that people focus on .... I think my life got way more interesting after I transitioned than it was during the transition.”
Billings noted the educational benefits of a character’s transition but agreed it was important not to dwell on it.
“If we spend too much time on it, if we draw a circle around it, we are stuck in puberty,” Billings said. “But I think there is something important about looking at that journey and what that journey is. It’s less about curiosity and more about education.”