The 79th Peabody Awards Board of Jurors has chosen the 30 programs in broadcast and digital it deems the “most compelling and empowering” for the year 2019, as well as two honorees for Institutional Awards, which have transformed media programming and cultural language.
The Peabody Awards are notable for being a juried award chosen from more than 1,300 submissions. The 19 jury members represent a group of industry professionals, media scholars, critics, and journalists — for a program to win distinction, the jury’s choice must be unanimous.
Though chosen in early 2020, there is a recurrent theme found in several of this year’s winners, that of problematic policing and institutional racism within the criminal justice system. Seven projects dealt with the subject, including documentary “True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality”; the Netflix miniseries on the Central Park jogger case, “When They See Us”; the podcast on the recently overturned Curtis Flowers case, “In The Dark: The Path Home”; and HBO’s limited series “Watchmen,” which explores America’s twisted history of racism and violence, systemic and otherwise.
Winners that also dig into failures within the criminal justice system include Netflix limited series “Unbelievable,” which explores two rape investigations, local news and documentary pieces “Unwarranted,” on police raids gone wrong, and “A Different Kind of Force: Policing Mental Illness,” about police turning to empathy before turning to firearms.
Other winners in the Entertainment category include HBO’s towering limited series “Chernobyl”; the OWN drama from Tarell Alvin McCraney, “David Makes Man”; “Dickinson,” the fanciful (if anachronistic) comedy from Apple TV+ about famed poet Emily Dickinson; “Fleabag,” Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Amazon Prime brainchild and Emmy darling; “Ramy,” the Hulu comedy that dramatizes Ramy Youssef’s experiences as a first-generation American Muslim; “Stranger Things,” the Netflix throwback drama from Matt and Ross Duffer; and “Succession,” the Shakespearean drama cum satire of one privileged media family from Jesse Armstrong and HBO.
For TV obsessives, the win for “Watchmen” marks the third Peabody Award for Damon Lindelof, who also won for his previous two series, “Lost” and “The Leftovers.”
Of the 30 winners, PBS led all platforms with seven, followed by HBO and Netflix with four each, and CNN and NBC with two. First-time winners, AppleTV+ and OWN, join Amazon Prime, Lifetime, and Hulu with one award each. Additional winning outlets include APM, BBC Sounds, Montana Public Radio, Newsday, WBBM Chicago, and WNYC Studios.
With regard to the organization’s Institutional Awards, Peabody selected two series that have, between them, aired 1,400 episodes of television. Fox’s “The Simpsons” and PBS’ “Frontline” have earned the accolade thanks to their sphere of influence for more than 30 years.
“This year’s winners are a vibrant collective of inspiring, innovative, and powerful stories. True to the spirit and legacy of Peabody, our winners are also distinguished by the presence and resilience of many emerging and diverse voices,” Jeffrey P. Jones, executive director of Peabody, said in a statement. “We are especially proud to celebrate ‘FRONTLINE’ as an unwavering source for truth through quality journalism when both are actively under attack, and ‘The Simpsons,’ one of the most consistently funny and culturally important satirical sitcoms over the last three decades.”
The breadth of activism and issues in this year’s nominees sparked Peabody to partner with PBS for a special production featuring all 10 directors of 2019’s winning documentaries, in a panel conversation hosted by Tabitha Jackson, director of the Sundance Film Festival. The event will be available to stream on PBS digital channels beginning Tuesday, June 23.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Peabody Awards will not host a traditional ceremony, a departure from the group’s original plans to present its first ever Los Angeles-based event on June 18.
A full list of the 2019 Peabody Awards winners is below.
“David Makes Man” (OWN)
“Dickinson” (Apple TV+)
“Fleabag” (Prime Video)
“Stranger Things” (Netflix)
“When They See Us” (Netflix)
“Apollo 11” (CNN)
“For Sama” (PBS)
“Independent Lens: Hale County This Morning, This Evening” (PBS)
“POV: Inventing Tomorrow” (PBS)
“POV: Midnight Traveler” (PBS)
“POV: The Distant Barking of Dogs” (PBS)
“POV: The Silence of Others” (PBS)
“Surviving R. Kelly” (Lifetime)
“The Edge of Democracy” (Netflix)
“True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality”
“Dolly Parton’s America” (WNYC)
“Have You Heard George’s Podcast?” (BBC Sounds)
“In the Dark: The Path Home” (APM Reports)
“Threshold: The Refuge” (Auricle Productions)
“A Different Kind of Force: Policing Mental Illness” (NBC News)
“American Betrayal” (NBC/MSNBC)
“Long Island Divided” (Newsday)
“The Hidden Workforce: Undocumented in America” (CNN)
Children’s & Youth
“Molly of Denali” (PBS Kids)