Since 1941, the George Foster Peabody awards have recognized excellence in radio and television broadcasting. Awards are selected and distributed in the following six categories:
- Children’s & Youth
- Public Service
Entries are put through a gauntlet of reviews by committees of students, staff, and faculty from the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication along with other institutions of higher learning. After narrowing the field down to 60 nominees, the winners are selected by the Peabody Board of Jurors, which consists of scholars, critics, and top flight media-industry professionals.
In the Entertainment category, Watchmen joined fellow HBO programs Chernobyl and Succession as winners for 2019. The Peabody Board of Jurors’ citation for Watchmen‘s award is reprinted below.
When HBO announced a new “remix” of Watchmen, Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and John Higgins’s classic work in the American superhero tradition, comic book fans were initially skeptical. Consider what viewers confront in the bold and original first episode: a pastiche of a silent film about a black sheriff, an intense re-enactment of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots, an all-black performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma, a vision of a future society where Robert Redford is president, and the lynching of a white cop. And Damon Lindelof’s revolutionary series goes full throttle to the end. Watchmen provides new answers to classic genre questions such as what it means to mask one’s identity and who gets to be a superhero, but more than that, it offers a frank and provocative reflection on contemporary racialized violence, on the role of police, and on the consequences of a large-scale disaster on the way Americans understand their place in the world. For world-building and storytelling that fuses speculative fiction with historical and contemporary realities, Watchmen deserves a Peabody.
As for Stranger Things, the show was previously nominated for a Peabody Award after its first season in 2016. The series’ third season represents the first time it has taken home the award, where it joins fellow Netflix programs Unbelievable and When They See Us as winners in the Entertainment category.
The Peabody Board of Jurors’ citation for Stranger Thing 3‘s award is reprinted below.
A summer blockbuster on television, Stranger Things fittingly returned to Netflix on the July 4 weekend. Led by a gifted ensemble cast including an especially superb team of young actors including Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, and Noah Schnapp, Stranger Things manages to bathe in a nostalgia of 1980s public pools, malls, and summer hijinks, while restructuring the nostalgia to be more inclusive. Writer-producers Matt and Ross Duffer perform yet another masterful act of chemistry, mixing essences of and homages to a cavalcade of 1980s media, from Stand By Me to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, War Games to The Thing, The Terminator to The Goonies to create a show that still bubbles over with original fun. Part science fiction, part horror, part government conspiracy drama, it fleet-footedly veers between modes and expectations, keeping viewers on their toes and the edge of their seats. For creating such deeply fun television that placed fictional Hawkins, Indiana, and “The Upside Down” on our collective pop culture map, alongside the teeming caverns of secret government experiments, Russian agents, and other-worldly Mind Flayer that live beneath it, we honor the third season of Stranger Things with a Peabody.
The 79th Annual Peabody Awards were supposed to be presented at a ceremony on June 18 in Los Angeles, but the event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While it’s disappointing we didn’t get to watch two of AIPT’s favorite programs get recognized on stage, it’s still great to see them both receive the credit they deserve for creating such incredible stories.