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Peabody Award Winners from HBO, Apple TV+ and Netflix

This Year’s Peabody Award Winners for Compelling and Empowering Storytelling

The Peabody Awards are my favorite industry awards to keep tabs on, by a longshot. The award recognizes the power of storytelling, honoring programs for their cultural impact and significance in society. It’s impressive how the award routinely manages to juxtapose blockbuster honorees against their smaller, lesser known counterparts, and across all types of media, even as new mediums and platforms come to light. Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey P. Jones elaborates:

… the Peabody Awards spotlight programs that demonstrate how media can defend the public interest, encourage empathy with others, and teach us to expand our understanding of the world around us. Such media achieves the highest standards and exists across genre and media platforms, across regions and borders. We are distinct from other industry awards, recognizing small, local programming alongside programs with larger production budgets. We award the best of the best.

This year’s Peabody 30 was officially announced on June 10th, and I was thrilled to see some of my favorite programs on the list. Ramy (Hulu) was one I was particularly excited about. Created by and starring comedian Ramy Youssef, Ramy disrupts the commonly held narrative about what it means to be a Muslim. Youssef candidly illustrates the normal, comical, everyday mishaps of what it means to be a young American Muslim dude living in the USA. One of my favorite lines from the series goes: “There’s Friday prayer, and then there’s Friday night.” As someone who identifies as a Muslim myself, this couldn’t resonate more. I wouldn’t say Ramy was a completely accurate depiction of my own life, but I don’t think that was the point. The point was to complicate commonly held beliefs, showcasing that there’s more than one way to be a Muslim. Ramy does just that.

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Chernobyl (HBO) was another well-deserved honoree, replaying the story behind the terrifying nuclear meltdown. The miniseries eloquently captures the competing interests of all parties, and highlights the risks that emerge when science is censored to the detriment of the greater good. Unfortunately – and perhaps, ironically – it certainly wasn’t the last time that facts were covertly withheld for ulterior motives. In fact, if you think hard enough about it, I bet you could even imagine a few analogous examples in recent history.

I wasn’t expecting to see The Simpsons on this list at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Winner of an Institutional Award, the endearing family has been on television since 1989, and has established itself as a permanent feature in worldwide pop culture. Their stories evolved steadily as times have changed, touching on hot topics all the while.

Following a decade of earnest family sitcoms, The Simpsons’ brash yellow splash onto television cleared the way for a more satiric-parodic, deeply ironic mode of comedy. From the outset, The Simpsons was eager to question and rib not just the television its viewers grew up on, but the beliefs upon which they were structured. Almost three decades later, one still sees the impact of its witty humor and endless willingness to question authority in the countless similarly important comedies that followed in Homer’s four-toed path… The Simpsons’ place in a shared cultural global lexicon can be measured as much by the bootleg Simpsons merchandise found in bazaars from Mexico to Malawi as by its gift of “D’oh!” to seemingly every world language. And just as it crossed the world, it has crossed media, into hit CDs, a film, video games, toys, chess sets, amusement park rides, apps, and pretty much anything else where Krusty the Clown would himself appear. The Simpsons has deftly stayed atop a crest of relevance for all its years and episodes, ever a reflection of its cultural moment, from the era of VHS and appointment television to our present day when its GIFs and memes serve as the internet’s lingua franca.

The Peabody Awards
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There are so many other winners I’ve still been meaning to check out. Dickinson (Apple TV+), When They See Us (Netflix), and For Sama (PBS) are just a few on my list. In any case, it looks like I’ve got some television to catch up on.

Without any further ado, here is the complete list of this year’s Peabody 30 winners:

Special Awards

  • Career Achievement Award: Cicely Tyson
  • Institutional Award: Frontline
  • Institutional Award: The Simpsons

Entertainment

  • Chernobyl (HBO)
  • David Makes Man (OWN)
  • Dickinson (Apple TV+)
  • Fleabag (Amazon Prime Video)
  • Ramy (Hulu)
  • Stranger Things (Netflix)
  • Succession (HBO)
  • Unbelievable (Netflix)
  • Watchmen (HBO)
  • When They See Us (Netflix)

Documentaries

  • Apollo 11 (CNN)
  • For Sama (PBS)
  • Independent Lens: Hale County This Morning, This Evening (PBS)
  • POV: Inventing Tomorrow (PBS)
  • POV: Midnight Traveler (American Documentary)
  • POV: The Instant Barking of Dogs (American Documentary)
  • POV: The Silence of Others (American Documentary)
  • Surviving R. Kelly (Lifetime)
  • The Edge of Democracy (Netflix)
  • True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality (HBO)

Podcast / Radio

  • Dolly Parton’s America (WNYC Studios)
  • Have You Heard George’s Podcast? (BBC)
  • In the Dark: The Path Home (APM Reports)
  • Threshold: The Refuge (Threshold Podcast)

News

  • A Different Kind of Force: Policing Mental Illness (NBC)
  • American Betrayal (NBC)
  • Long Island Divided (Newsday)
  • The Hidden Workforce: Undocumented in America (CNN)
  • Unwarranted (CBS)

Children’s & Youth

  • Molly of Denali (PBS)

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