It Wasn’t As Good As Saturday, But The HCA TV Awards Are Still Pretty Damn Good
Conclusion: Streaming Awards
If there was a flaw with the second night of the HCA TV awards, it was that the lion’s share of the nominees and winners were absent. Considering that we often find this with so many other awards shows in their early days (the Critics Choice Awards had its problems filling seats until a few years ago) I suspect that may be more of a temporary problem.
The streaming awards had some more surprises then the Broadcast and Television awards, some of which may lead to changes coming to the Emmys in the next few weeks. Perhaps the biggest shock of all came in the prizes for Best Drama, where the dominant series was not, as I expected it to be, either Squid Game or Stranger Things, but rather the superb and twisty Apple TV thriller Severance which dominated with five awards (technically four and a half which I’ll get to in a moment) The series took Best Drama, Best Director for Ben Stiller, Best Writing, Best Supporting Actor John Turturro, and in a true shock Best Actress for Britt Lower. Only Erikson, the head writer for the series was actually present to accept his award, and gave a huge tribute to Ben Stiller for being ‘a blockbuster movie director hiding the last thirty years as a comic performer.) Of course, those of us who saw Escape from Dannemora knew he had it in him to begin with. In taking the prize for Best Drama, Erikson said this series proved two things about people: “they all love twisting mind-bending thrillers and they all hate their jobs.” Hard to argue with either.
Lee-Jung Jae as expected took the prize for Best Actor in a Drama and now officially is the man to beat for the prize with Bob Odenkirk fast on his heels. Best Actress was actually a tie, with Lower (who was one of the few actors from Severance not nominated by the Emmys) and expected favorite Laura Linney for Ozark. Linney’s tie was Ozark’s only trophy for the show’s final season, with the biggest surprise of the night Supporting Actress went not to Julia Garner but Sadie Sink for Stranger Things. With Sink not nominated the Supporting Actress field narrows to Rhea Seehorn, Sarah Snook for Succession and SAG award winner Jung Ho-Yeon.
The awards for Comedy actually had more surprises. I wasn’t stunned to see Ted Lasso repeat for Best Comedy, considering it had been dominating the awards cycle for the pre-Emmys award. But there are signs the momentum for the series may be slowing, as the only other trophy it took was Brett Goldstein (whose speech, once again, was the delight of the night as he filled with obscenities and thanked Juno Temple.) Supporting Actress which Hannah Waddingham had been dominated up until now went instead to the other Hannah in this category Hannah Einbinder for Hacks. Last year, she tied with Waddingham. This was her first solo award and in my mind she earned it. Hacks also took the prizes for Best Directing and Writing in a comedy, which meant more speeches for Paul Downs and Luca Anciello, who keep moving me. Strangely enough, one of the trophies it didn’t win was Best Actress, which went in a major upset to Selena Gomez for Only Murders in the Building. I was dismayed she didn’t get to give a speech she was entitled. Could the momentum for Jean Smart being starting to flag?
It wouldn’t be the biggest shock in this category. In an equally delightful surprise Jason Sudeikis didn’t win Best Actor but lost to Martin Short for Only Murders in the Building. Much as I would have loved to see Steve Martin prevail, Short’s work is just as brilliant and his speech was just as entertaining. He mocked his fellow nominees Martin’s lack of talent and then proceeded to rave about everyone else in the cast and crew. Does this mean that Short now has a real chance to upset Sudeikis and Bill Hader for Best Actor at the Emmys? We’ll have to see.
Limited Series and Anthology was owned by Hulu. The big winner was, not, surprisingly Dopesick which took Best Limited Series, Best Actor for Michael Keaton, Best Supporting Actress for Kaitlyn Dever, and Best Writing for Danny Strong. Keaton had one of the night’s biggest laughs when he told everyone he’d been cleaning out his basement and found ‘all these classified nuclear documents’. Equal parts self-deprecating and moving in previous speeches, the all-but certain winner for Best Actor was far more hilarious. The call to the barricades came from Strong who in his acceptance speech called Dopesick a trial for TV of the Sacklers and called on the Justice Department to indict Richard Sackler and every member of the Sackler family. There were huge cheers from the crowd, and honestly, if all you know about Purdue Pharma was what you saw in the series, you know the Sacklers have it coming.
As expected Amanda Seyfried took the Best Actress prize for her work in The Dropout and officially became the front-runner for the prize. The remaining awards went to Pam and Tommy with Seth Rogen taking the Supporting Actor prize and Best Director. I actually didn’t have a real objection to the latter because one of my favorite hyphenates of all-time Lake Bell was the recipient and her speech was equal parts hysterical and moving. Her dress seemed to be slipping off during the speech, and she acknowledged that by the end.
So after the HCA’s has the layout for the Emmys changed at all? Squid Game has momentum (it keeps taking the international prize) but Better Call Saul and Severance are taking a decided edge away from the assumed coronation of Succession with each month. Zendaya has lost front runner status for Best Actress in a Drama to Laura Linney and Melanie Lynskey and the Supporting Awards are becoming more and cloudier. As for comedy, Ted Lasso is still the nominal frontrunner, but considering the gains made my Only Murders and Hacks last night, and Barry and Abbott Elementary the night before, the inevitability may be shifting away from it. I’m pretty sure all of the major acting awards will come down to one winner or another from both nights. As for Limited Series, it’s a two series raise between Dopesick and The White Lotus. The question becomes, will HBO prevail with a comic foil or will the Emmys, always looking for more series shows, look towards Dopesick?
I start my analysis later today, but I can tell you this right now: the HCA has more than demonstrated that they are by far the new gold standard for awards shows. Even the Critics Choice will have to do a lot better this year to supplant them now. Now if we can only get them to start broadcast on an actual network. Well, it took four years for it to happen with the Critic Choice…