Awards for “Fosse/Verdon,” “Chernobyl,” comedy underdog “Fleabag,” & more from TCA

“Fleabag” wins the TCA trifecta. (photo by MargieBarron)

 The Television Critics Association heaped honors on an eclectic bunch of outstanding shows, albeit hidden gems, at the TCA Awards 2019. It is often a harbinger of what programs will be getting attention at Emmy time.

 The 35th annual awards celebrated the top programs and performances of the 2018-2019 television season as voted on by about 200 TV writers from across the U.S. and Canada. The event was presented Saturday, August 3 at the Beverly Hilton, honoring a diverse lineup of stars and series in 13 distinct categories.

Amazon’s “Fleabag” stars Phoebe Waller-Bridge

 The big news from the awards was the trifecta win for the comedic/tragic Fleabag. The second season of the Amazon series earned TCA honors for Program of The Year, Outstanding Achievement In Comedy, and Individual Achievement in Comedy for series’ cheeky British star and creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who plays a London cafe-owner pining for a priest. The attention from TCA might help solidify some of the show’s 11 Emmy nominations. After mentioning the “hot priest” on the show and accepting her trophies, Waller-Bridge heard the Fleabag music theme, flashed a silly smile and said, “it takes me back to the confessional.”

FX “Fosse/Verdon” stars Michelle Williams, Sam Rockwell

Michelle Williams (photo by MargieBarron)

 A highlight of the evening was seeing Michelle Williams grab the spotlight with the Individual Achievement In Drama award for her performance perfection as Broadway icon Gwen Verdon in the bio-pic Fosse/Verdon on FX. It’s an Emmy nominated role for Williams, a four-time Oscar nominee, who was a teen star when she starred in Dawson’s Creek and first got the critics’ attention. She gave an emotional speech recalling her career as a struggling child actor. “I wanted to be on a series like Full House”…just for the loving on-screen family. After calling her costar Sam Rockwell (Fosse) the brother she always wanted, she thanked the great FX network for “supporting and paying us equally” on Fosse/Verdon, a reference to her unequal pay for reshoots on the film All the Money in the World.

Deadwood’s David Milch, Gerald McRaney (photo by MargieBarron)

 Another profound moment was seeing celebrated writer/producer David Milch, rise to the occasion and accept the Lifetime Achievement Award with a moving speech about his pride and passion about his productions. Last spring Milch revealed he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. 

 Milch’s groundbreaking Deadwood, which redefined the Western genre for a modern audience, received the prestigious Heritage Award. His last effort, the Deadwood movie (up for eight Emmys) aired earlier this year as a finale to the epic HBO series which aired from 2004-2006. Gerald McRaney (This Is Us, Major Dad, Simon & Simon) who has done many westerns (including Gunsmoke!) in his long illustrious career played George Hearst in Deadwood and was there to support his friend Milch. 

 The Emmy-winning Milch, writer-producer for Hill Street Blues, also made his mark with the acclaimed NYPD Blue, which he created with the late Steven Bochco.

Amy Poehler, Natasha Lyonne (photo by MargieBarron)

 The New Program award went to the mysterious time-bending show Russian Doll on Netflix. Both star Natasha Lyonne and her co-creator Amy Poehler were on hand to accept and sort of explain the loopy idea that ends with Nadia (Lyonne) repeatedly dying in the episodes. So Natasha advised, “Live a little because we’re all gonna die.”

 The Achievement In Sketch/Variety Shows went to HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver for the second consecutive year. Oliver taped a thank you message for the journalists and got roars of laughter when he mocked them for enjoying a Hulu-sponsored spa day “getting pedicures with the cast of The Handmaid’s Tale.” Not true, the Handmaids weren’t there.

Chernobyl star Jared Harris (photo by MargieBarron)

  Additional winners included Better Call Saul, AMC’s Breaking Bad prequel about the dubious lawyer, which won for Achievement In Drama. Achievement in Movie/Miniseries went to HBO’s historic and horrific Chernobyl. The Netflix makeover series Queer Eye won its second consecutive Achievement in Reality Programming prize. Achievement In News & Information went to the controversial Michael Jackson exposé, HBO’s Leaving Neverland. And for Achievement In Youth Programming, the wonderful long-running animated PBS Kids’ program Arthur won. Author/executive producer Marc Brown accepted and revealed how Mr. Rogers influenced him. Bless him.

 The TCA Awards were emceed by Desus and Mero, hosts of the Showtime talk show of the same name. The motor-mouth duo performed their signature comedy while relaxing in chairs on stage as they wisecracked on video clips from the nominated programs. And on Sunday, September 22 we’ll see if the Emmy voters concur with the critics about the best on TV.

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.