Television Academy Names 2020 Honors Recipients, Including ‘Watchmen’ and ‘Queen Sugar’

Michael Schneider

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The 13th annual Television Academy Honors awards ceremony, originally scheduled for April, has been “postponed indefinitely,” due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. But the TV Academy has gone ahead and announced this year’s honorees.

The six programs set to be honored by the Television Academy this year are “16 Shots” (Showtime), “At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal” (HBO), “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj” (Netflix), “Queen Sugar” (OWN), “Unbelievable” (Netflix) and “Watchmen” (HBO).

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Per the TV Academy, the roster recognizes programs that were “meaningful and impactful” television in 2019 that “shed light on complex issues and challenges facing our society.” The two documentary specials, one drama series, two limited series and one talk series were chosen for tackling issues such as women’s rights, mental health, substance abuse and addiction, sexual abuse, race relations and gender discrimination.

“We are so pleased to recognize these extraordinary programs and producers whose work is heightening public awareness and profoundly influencing social change,” said Television Academy chairman/CEO Frank Scherma.

“During this difficult time for our industry and our country, the Television Academy Honors plays an important role in recognizing contemporary programming that speaks to our humanity and brings us together,” said Maury McIntyre, Television Academy president and chief operating officer. “We would like to thank our judges for their commitment and virtual engagement at this challenging time.”

Howard Meltzer, governor for the Academy’s casting peer group, chaired this year’s Television Academy Honors selection committee, with Jill Sanford, governor for the children’s programming peer group, serving as vice-chair.

Here are the TV Academy’s descriptions of why these programs were chosen:

“16 Shots” (Showtime Documentary Films Presents, in association with Topic, Impact Partners and Chicago Media Project)
“’16 Shots’ is the quixotic story of a small group of activists, journalists and attorneys who fought to reveal the truth behind the Chicago police killing of Laquan McDonald. The documentary features a forensic examination of a shooting, the anatomy of a coverup, and a portrait of the social/political machine that makes black lives disappear. Despite all odds, this group of activists fought to secure the release of the video of Laquan’s shooting, catalyzing a series of earth-shattering moments that culminated in the trial of the officer responsible for Laquan’s murder.”

“At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal” (Sidewinder Films II and HBO Documentary Films)
“For more than two decades, Dr. Larry Nassar was the osteopathic physician for the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team as well as a physician at Michigan State University. During that time, he sexually abused hundreds of female athletes. Offering insights that go beyond the sensational headlines, this documentary reveals a dangerous system that prioritized winning over everything else, including protecting young female athletes. Through interviews with dozens of survivors, as well as coaches, lawyers, journalists and Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, the film exposes an environment in which young women spent their youth competing for victory on a world stage, juxtaposed against a culture where abuse was hidden, and lives were forever damaged.”

“Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” (Art & Industry for Netflix)
“Each week comic Hasan Minhaj brings his unique comedic voice and storytelling skill to investigate larger social and political trends shaping our fragmented world. This comedy commentary series has explored obesity, retirement, immigration, global news, mental health and politics with depth and sincerity. Following a show on student loans, Minhaj was asked to testify before Congress on behalf of borrowers, proving that informed political satire can sometimes be the necessary catalyst for change.”

“Queen Sugar” (Harpo Films and Array Filmworks in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television)
“This contemporary dramatic series from Ava DuVernay is more than entertainment. It addresses issues of race relations, mass incarceration, sexual assault and post-traumatic triggers. Through its fully realized, multi-dimensional depiction of an African American family, this racially progressive show tackles universal issues of culture, class and gender while highlighting specific concerns of the African American community.”

“Unbelievable” (CBS Television Studios for Netflix)
“Inspired by The Marshall Project and ProPublica Pulitzer Prize-winning article ‘An Unbelievable Story of Rape,’ this limited series confronts sexual assault and the handling of victims of trauma, treating the difficult subject matter with respect and empathy toward the victims. The compelling drama, based on the true story of a woman accused of lying about being raped and the two female detectives—hundreds of miles away—who refused to give up their pursuit of a potential serial rapist, incites a bigger conversation about the too-frequent mishandling of rape cases and rape victims and how individual and collective prejudice can shape and sidetrack an investigation.”

“Watchmen” (HBO in association with White Rabbit, Paramount, Warner Bros. Television and DC Entertainment)
“Set in an alternate universe where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws, ‘Watchmen’ embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name while attempting to break new ground of its own. ‘Watchmen’ goes beyond its basic plotline to highlight the most pervasive anxiety in America, the fear of imminent cultural destruction at the hands of each other, and the issue that most directly addresses an evil at the heart of our country’s history. That evil is racism.”

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