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Much-Loved Underdog 'Schitt's Creek' Carries the Night at 72nd Emmys, While 'Succession,' 'Watchmen' Shine Bright for HBO
September 21, 2020  | By Alex Strachan  | 2 comments

History was made. The show went on, albeit in a different guise, and all went surprisingly well, despite uncertain times and a global pandemic that threatened to upend everything. The host was bright and lively, somber when he needed to be and funny when we needed him to be. In the end, TV's Emmy succession race came down to exactly that.

Succession, British screenwriter Jesse Armstrong's satirical comedy-drama about the war of succession over a dysfunctional global media empire, won the outstanding drama series at last night's 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards over a strong — and diverse — field that included Better Call SaulThe CrownThe Handmaid's TaleKilling EveThe MandalorianOzarkStranger Things and Westworld.

Succession was just the tipping point for HBO, which had an outstanding night with a field-leading 30 Emmy wins overall. Watchmen, Damon Lindelof's self-described "remix" — as opposed to "reboot" — of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' 1986 DC Comics superhero tale about racist violence in Tulsa, Oklahoma landed 11 Emmys overall, including wins for outstanding limited series (what they used to call a miniseries), writing, actress Regina King, actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and a host of technical awards, including casting and sound editing. Succession, meanwhile, picked up awards for writing, directing, outstanding actor (Jeremy Strong), and guest actress (Cherry Jones).

Watchmen and Succession may have made the night bright for HBO, but it was upstart Pop TV's Canadian outlier Schitt's Creek — arguably the most tongue-in-cheek title in the history of the medium — that carried the hour.

Schitt's Creek swept all seven major comedy categories in which it was nominated, a first in the TV Academy's 72-year history. SCTV alumni Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy (top) took home the awards for best lead actress and lead actor, respectively, while Annie Murphy and Dan Levy (top)— Eugene's son, and Schitt's Creek creator and writer — responded in kind in the supporting categories. Dan Levy scored a rare quadruple, winning Emmys for producing, writing, directing, and performing.

Schitt's Creek, an old reliable for the Canadian broadcaster CBC, aired its sixth and final season earlier this year, had never won an Emmy before. Creek also won Emmys on Saturday night for its casting and costume design.

Schitt's Creek's records tally didn't end there: With those acting wins, it became the first series to sweep all four major acting awards in either comedy or drama in Emmy history. Its record haul of nine wins broke the comedy record of eight, previously held by Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, in 2018 and 2019.

Netflix won 21 Emmys overall, second to HBO's 30. Schitt's Creek's record haul boosted outlier Pop TV to third overall, with 10 Emmy wins.

The conventional broadcast networks, once the dominant force in TV broadcasting — and viewing — were represented by NBC, which managed eight wins overall, largely for old stalwart Saturday Night Live. Guest host Eddie Murphy and past cast regular Maya Rudolph, channeling Kamala Harris, won Saturday's Emmys for guest comedy actor and actress, respectively.

Zendaya won outstanding drama series actress for the HBO teen drama Euphoria. Supporting actor drama Emmys went to Billy Crudup, for Apple TV+'s insider cable-TV series about the cutthroat world of morning TV, and Julia Garner, who won her second Emmy as Ruth Langmore, one of the younger members of a hard-luck crime family of money launderers in the Ozark mountain region that straddles Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas.

It's Schitt's Creek, stylized as Schitt$ Creek, that will go down in posterity as the pandemic-stricken 72nd Emmys' major talking point, though.

The wry, gentle parable about the trials and tribulations of a once-wealthy family forced by financial circumstances to relocate to a small town they once purchased as a joke, a town with the unfortunate but wry name of Schitt's Creek, touched a nerve.

Schitt's Creek may have been an outlier going into the weekend's Emmy Awards, but it had already won a loyal, devoted following among viewers looking for something kind and gentle, and unlike anything else seen on TV.

As one viewer commented late Sunday night on social media: "Schitt's Creek made a point to make viewers feel safe by showcasing women without harassment, queer love without trauma, economic disparity without mockery, and creativity without limitation. What they built is just so special. They deserve it all."

And how.

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Jan 27, 2023   |  Reply
Not to take anything away from the excellence of the program itself or its writing, or the acting performances that won the awards, but Schitt's Creek isn't the only show deserving of recognition. (If it were, there would be no other nominees.) Would it be too cynical to suspect that the name had more than a little to do with all those wins? Maybe in this hyper-weird year, the once-in-a-career chance for Academy members to thumb their collective noses at government-mandated propriety was just too sweet to miss.
Sep 21, 2020   |  Reply
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