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TCA Award Winners Have Been Named – From a Safe, Social Distance
September 15, 2020  | By Roger Catlin  | 4 comments

Alas, no dress-up this year for the TCA Awards, the annual event from the TV Critics Association, where winners (and strangely, no losers) show up in a California hotel ballroom to accept their plexiglass kudos safe in the knowledge that nothing they say will be either broadcast or otherwise held against them.

That has led to some fun, freewheeling nights, but also evenings bereft of the widely televised attention bestowed by other more questionable aggregations (Critics Choice? The Hollywood Foreign Press Association?).

At the risk of holding off the lede any longer, I should tell you that HBO's Watchmen won a slew of 2020 TCA Awards announced Monday, including both Program of the Year and Outstanding New Program, as well as Outstanding Achievement in Movie, Miniseries and Specials and Individual Achievement in Drama for star Regina King. We are happy to pile on the awards before the Emmys get there.

"My heart is just jumping!" King said in a taped acceptance speech to critics.

Creator Damon Lindelof, who gave the longest taped acceptance this year, said he was fond of the TCA traditions of not clapping when casts and creators come on stage for their panel press conferences.

"Your invalidation validates my belief that I am human garbage," he said drolly, adding, "I suppose one of the only upsides of this global pandemic is that this format also deprives me of the applause I so unhealthily crave." (That's before turning serious and thanking critics for thoughtfully considering his shows).

Another HBO entry, Succession won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Drama in its sharp second season; its creator, Jesse Armstrong, could barely get his thanks out due to transmission problems.

HBO's A Black Lady Sketch Show won a new category, Outstanding Achievement in Sketch/Variety Show, with creator Robin Thede on tape joking, "You are going to send an award, right?"

Sketch/Variety was a new category this year because comedy shows like John Oliver's and The Daily Show kept winning the News and Information category, somewhat embarrassingly for us, for them, and for the news industry at large.

Winning that category this year, instead, wasn't exactly news either, but it was widely popular — ESPN's documentary series on Michael Jordan, The Last Dance. "I hope we brought you a little bit of an escape in a tough year," said director Jason Heir.

Another documentary series won in a category called Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming – Cheer, the only original winning entry from Netflix or any streaming service this year.

Comedy winner this year in its final season was the Canadian import on the tiniest network (Pop), Schitt's Creek, which was boosted from replay on Netflix. It won both Outstanding Achievement in Comedy and Individual Achievement in Comedy for Catherine O'Hara (top), who sent taped thanks along with her longtime co-star Eugene Levy, who said, "I don't know anyone who doesn't like a kind word from critics."

One PBS entry, Molly of Denali, won Outstanding Youth Programming for its animated portrayal of Alaskan natives. Sovereign Bill, the voice of the character, accepted, saying, "For too long indigenous people have been sidelined."

Nostalgia reigned in the Heritage category, with the original Star Trek winning and Eugene Roddenberry saying his father Gene Roddenberry created the series "with a vision of hope and optimistic view of what humanity could become, told through the lens of science fiction."

And the Career Achievement Honoree was a man still hard at work, Alex Trebek, the Jeopardy! host and cancer survivor. "I am truly humbled and most appreciative," he said in his stentorian style. Trebek appeared before the TCA in a panel the last time it convened in January, where he was the rare recipient of applause.

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The absence of a traditional dress-up for the TCA Awards reflects the unique circumstances of the event. Held in a California hotel ballroom, winners seemingly enjoy a relaxed atmosphere to accept awards with plexiglass kudos. The off-the-record nature adds a candid touch, allowing recipients to express freely without concerns of broadcast repercussions.
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