Over the weekend both the Writers Guild and the Art Directors Guild announced their picks for the best film and television achievements of 2019. We have been looking to the guild awards as our first key indicator of the upcoming Emmy race, and they’re proving that both the drama and comedy races are wide open. The WGA Awards particularly showed that the love for HBO and Netflix isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The two networks dominated the ceremony, barely giving any other network the chance to win.
Writers Guild Awards
The Drama Race
One big story emerged from this year’s WGA Awards. The writers guild solidified an Emmy frontrunner status for two beloved HBO dramas: Succession and Watchmen.
Months after winning the Emmy for Outstanding Writing of a Drama Series, Succession went on to win two WGA Awards. The second season won the award for Outstanding Drama Series as well as the award for Outstanding Episodic Drama for the finale episode “Tern Haven.” WGA voters choosing the same show in both categories is relatively rare. In fact, only two other dramas have pulled off this achievement, Mad Men and Breaking Bad. That’s a pretty major accomplishment. It was able to do so while beating major contenders from The Crown to The Handmaid’s Tale.
Watchmen on the other hand won the award for Outstanding New Series. Its win here is even more proof that the critically acclaimed drama captivates audiences much more than some of the other major dramas of 2019. At first glance, an award for new series doesn’t seem as significant as other categories. However, looking through the years, it has a pitch perfect track record of awarding Emmy favorites. For example, take a look at the list of recent winners: Barry, The Handmaid’s Tale, Homeland, Mr. Robot, Girls, House of Cards, True Detective, and Atlanta.
The Comedy Race
Overall, HBO was incredibly popular among WGA voters. The second season of Barry won the award for Outstanding Comedy Series, proving that the dark comedy is still popular among writers. The critically acclaimed second season beat out past winners like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Veep as well as newcomers like Pen15 and Russian Doll.
On top of the major awards of the night, WGA voters also celebrated a handful of new shows that have largely gone ignored. The Netflix short-form series Special won the award for Outstanding Original Short Form Media. That’s a major accomplishment for creator and star Ryan O’Connell. Voters also awarded Tim Robinson’s sketch series I Think You Should Leave, one of the most underrated comedies on television. If the highly anticipated second season is released in time, then there could be a chance that it becomes a clear alternative to perennial winner SNL.
Art Directors Guild Awards
This weekend the Art Directors Guild also held their annual ceremony celebrating their picks for the best art direction of the year. This voting body isn’t really a consistent predictor of the upcoming Emmy race. What it can show us, though, is what shows continue to excite audiences across the board.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won its second consecutive award for One-Hour Period or Fantasy Single-Camera Series. The show’s impeccable production design has only expanded throughout its third season. It’s no surprise that is the popular choice here. It’s also worth pointing out that it won over a handful of major contenders ranging from Game of Thrones to The Crown.
Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy won the award for One-Hour Contemporary Single-Camera Series. Since the category’s creation in 2014, the winner has always corresponded with an Emmy nominee for Outstanding Drama Series. That’s likely not going to happen this year. Yet, it is refreshing to see ADG voters look outside the usual crop of awards contenders and celebrate something new.
After winning the Emmys in their respected categories, both Chernobyl and Russian Doll won awards for art direction as well. This marks the end of a wildly successful awards season for the HBO limited series. Russian Doll on the other hand hasn’t won much, so this is great news heading into its upcoming second season.