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Orange is the New Black, Scandal, Borgen Among Peabody Winners

Orange is the New Black, Scandal, Borgen Among Peabody Winners

The Peabody Awards have named a record 46 winners this year in their ongoing efforts to recognizing “stories that matter.”

Twenty of the awardees (43%) — which range from journalism to scripted works and include radio programs, newspaper stories, TV news, TV series, documentaries for the big and small screen, and experimental media — featured a clear female protagonist or was made by a woman creator (e.g., director, showrunner, reporter, etc.) Seventeen of the awardees (37%) had at least one woman creator leading the project. 

There are a lot of Women and Hollywood favorites among the awardees: Borgen, the Danish drama about the first female prime minister; The Invisible War, Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s harrowing and powerful documentary about the military’s rape culture; Orange is the New Black, Jenji Kohan’s prison series that revolutionized what women’s stories could and should look like; and Scandal, Shonda Rhimes’ chronically underestimated show that’s nothing like anything else on TV. 

In a statement, Peabody director Jeffrey P. Jones explained that the Peabody’s honor “stories that engage viewers as citizens as well as consumers.” He continued, “By recognizing specific programming, the Peabody Awards spotlight instances of how electronic media can teach, expand our horizons, defend the public interest, or encourage empathy with others.”

Here’s a list of all the Peabody winners by and/or about women: 

180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School (PBS) – Directed by Jacquie Jones
National Black Programming Consortium, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS
Chronicling a year at Washington Metropolitan, aka DC Met, it’s an intimate, unvarnished portrait of a high-poverty high school and the challenges facing students, teachers and administrators.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (CNN) – Co-Directed by Sally Freeman
CNN, Zero Point Zero Production, Inc.
Whether Bourdain’s tireless search for new taste experiences takes him to Myanmar or Detroit, he never fails to find great stories to go with the food.

Best Kept Secret (PBS) – Directed by Samantha Buck
American Documentary / POV, BKS Films, LLC
The “secret” at Newark’s poor John F. Kennedy High School is its unexpectedly resourceful program for special-needs students, especially autistic teens. This documentary — frank, poignant, never simplistic — immerses viewers in the struggles of three autistic kids and one dedicated teacher.

Borgen (DR1, Denmark)
DR Fiktion
Borgen is a Danish term for “government,” and this realistic, richly nuanced dramatic series is peerless in its depiction of how the machinery works. It’s also rumination on power, ambition, integrity, love and deal-making, with one of the most intriguing female protagonists in all the TV world.

The Bridge (FX) – Co-Adapted and Co-Executive Produced by Meredith Stiehm
Shine America and FX Productions
A crime drama set in motion by a murder victim left literally on the border of West Texas and Northern Mexico, its rare, non-stereotypical depiction of two cultures rubbing against and informing each other is as fascinating as the mystery.

Burka Avenger (Geo Tez)
Unicorn Black
Smart, colorful and provocative, this Pakistani-produced television program about a super-heroine sends a clear message about female empowerment that has the potential to affect an entire generation.

The Central Park Five (PBS) – Co-Directed by Sarah Burns
Florentine Films, WETA
A tragic story, finally told in full, The Central Park Five reexamines not only the case of black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were railroaded and wrongly imprisoned for a rape but the climate of fear and the media frenzy that surrounded their trial.

A Chef’s Life (PBS) – Directed by Cynthia Hill
Markay Media in association with South Carolina ETV (SCETV)
A cooking/reality series revolving around a high-end, farm-to-fork restaurant in South Carolina’s low country, it’s made all the more appetizing by generous sides of local color, stereotype-defying rural neighbors and Southern food-lore.

Hanford’s Dirty Secrets (KING-TV, Seattle) – Reported by Susannah Frame
KING 5 Television
Centering on a leaking nuclear-waste storage tank in Washington state, the Seattle station’s expose of mismanagement, deception and waste of tax dollars resulted in a full review of the Hanford nuclear “reservation” by the U.S. Department of Energy and resignations at the company that manages the toxic site.

Harper High School (WBEZ Chicago 91.5) – Co-Reported by Linda Lutton
WBEZ Chicago’s This American Life
A trio of This American Life reporters embedded themselves for five month at Harper, a Chicago high school where gun violence was epidemic, and produced a pair of hour-long documentaries that were vivid, unblinking, poignant, and sometimes gut-wrenching.

Hollow ( – By Elaine McMillion
Hollow Interactive, LLC
Experiential aurally and visually, the interactive website lets visitors immerse themselves in the lives of 30 residents of McDowell County, West Virginia, an economically stressed, shrinking American community both unique and emblematic.

In Plain Sight: Poverty in America (NBC & – Reported by Barbara Raab
NBC News
Many faces and forms of poverty, some predictable, some startling, are highlighted in NBC News’ wide-ranging, multi-platform project, geared to the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of “war” on the scourge.

Independent Lens: The Invisible War (PBS) – Produced by Amy Ziering
Chain Camera Productions, Independent Television Service (ITVS), Girls Club Entertainment, RISE films, Fork Films, Cuomo Cole Productions, Canal Plus
With powerful interviews with rape survivors at its core, The Invisible War is the most exhaustive report to date on the extent and causes of sexual assault in the U.S. military.

Life According to Sam (HBO) – Co-Directed by Andrea Nix
HBO Documentary Films and Fine Films LLC
Sam Berns, a teenager bearing up to the ravages of a disease that causes accelerated aging with amazing grace, humor and thoughtfulness, is the subject of this great, informative, humane and humbling documentary.

A Needed Response (YouTube/Samantha Stendal) – Co-Directed by Samantha Stendal
Samantha Stendal, Aaron Blanton
Short, simple and spot-on in its critique of rape culture, the ingenious PSA by two University of Oregon students takes just 25 seconds to make its point that real men treat women with respect.

Orange Is the New Black (Netflix) – Created by Jenji Kohan
Lionsgate Television, Netflix
Orange Is the New Black turns a notorious drive-in genre — women behind bars — into a complex, riveting character study rich in insights about femininity, race, power, and the politics, inside and outside prison walls, of mass incarceration.

Orphan Black (BBC America)
Temple Street Productions in association with BBC America and SPACE
It’s all about cloning, but Orphan Black is one of a kind — a super-charged, stylized sci-fi action serial that ponders identity, humanity, bioethics and genetic research when it occasionally stops for breath. Tatiana Maslany is a marvel in the title role.

The Race Card Project (NPR’s Morning Edition) – Reported by Michelle Norris
The Race Card Project, NPR News, NPR’s Morning Edition
Undercutting the term’s political, pejorative meaning, Michelle Norris’ website project and NPR series defines “race card” literally, inviting listeners to share six-word summations of their racial ideas and experiences that became the basis of compelling reports about race, pride, prejudice and identity.

Scandal (ABC) – Created by Shonda Rhimes
ABC Studios
Loosely based on the exploits of a real Washington, D.C. “fixer,” turbocharged by Kerry Washington’s star turn, Scandal is part West Wing and part Dynasty, an exaggerated, outrageous, fun-house reflection of the real-life political shenanigans we’ve come to loathe and jeer.

A Short History of the Highrise ( – By Katerina Cizek
The New York Times, The National Film Board of Canada
With text, games, antique photos and three storybook-style animated shorts — Mud, Concrete and Glass — the interactive website entertainingly explores 2,500 years of “vertical living.” A fourth feature, Home, catalogues images of multi-story life submitted by the public.

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