“Molly of Denali,” “Watchmen” win 2020 Peabody Awards

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This week saw the 79th Peabody Awards awarded for 30 TV and digital media programs deemed worthy of the honor.

A theme in some of this year’s winners is attention drawn to systemic racism, as well as problems with policing. This is despite that the awards were decided well before the current protests started. “Watchmen,” the HBO adaption of the famed 1986-87 comic miniseries, is one such example, per its look at America’s history of racism. That includes a rare media mention of the 1921 Tulsa massacre.

Elsewhere, “The Simpsons” and PBS’ “Frontline” were awarded Institutional Awards, basically the Peabody’s lifetime achievement awards. Actress Cicely Tyson was also given a Career Achievement award.

Molly of Denali
PBS’ “Molly of Denali.”

PBS Kids’ “Molly of Denali” won for the “children and youth” category. The cartoon debuted in 2019; it features the adventures of Molly, an Alaskan Native girl who lives in the fictional Alaska village of Qyah. The show is the first prominent TV cartoon to star Alaskan Native characters. It’s also one of the few current or recent cartoons that star indigenous characters, period.

PBS dominated the Peabody Awards in general, winning seven. HBO and Netflix came in second with four apiece, followed by CNN and NBC with two each. Among the other first time winners include Apple TV+, which won for “Dickinson,” a satirical comedy about Emily Dickinson. It’s nice to see Apple’s streaming service is winning awards, even if it doesn’t seem to be generating the attention of Netflix or Disney+.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Peabody Awards ceremony was cancelled. Instead, award winners recorded their acceptance speeches and posted them to the Peabody Awards’ website. In the case of “The Simpsons,” the show’s producers created an original piece of animation featuring Homer giving a speech.


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