WGA Cements ‘Succession’ as Drama to Beat at Emmys in Big Night for HBO

The WGA also embraced "Watchmen," "Barry," and "Chernobyl," making the network the night's big TV winner.
Damon Lindelof Craig Mazin WGA
Damon Lindelof and Craig Mazin at the Writers Guild Awards.
Michael Buckner/Shutterstock

It’s February and, while the path to the Emmys looks more like a minimum maintenance road than a FasTrak to trophy town, there’s already one series that appears to have a leg up on the competition.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) gave one final boost to HBO’s “Succession” on Saturday night, with the show taking home wins for both drama series and episode of a drama series. It’s the latest in a long string of key victories during the winter TV awards season for the black dramedy centered around the backstabbing, power-grabbing Roy family.

After winning just two Emmy Awards in September – for creator Jesse Armstrong’s Season 1 finale script and for Nicholas Britell’s towering theme – an outstanding second season of “Succession” has led to wins at both the Golden Globes and PGA Awards.

But “Succession” wasn’t the only series picking up a bit of steam at the WGA Awards, held in dual ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York City.

HBO’s “Watchmen” nabbed the award for new series, an accolade for the Damon Lindelof-led adaptation that pairs nicely with director Nicole Kassell’s Directors Guild of America Award from last week for her work on the show’s first episode, “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice.”

The wins signal a potential changing of the guard at the 2020 Emmy Awards, particularly with “Game of Thrones” gone from competition. The conclusion of the most awarded series in Emmy history makes for a starkly open category, with only two previous Outstanding Drama Series winners – Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the final season of Showtime’s “Homeland” – eligible for competition.

HBO had a big night across the board with “Barry” winning in comedy series, its first in the category, and “Chernobyl” adding yet another feather to its cap for long form original. It’s the latest award in a mind-boggling run for the limited series which has seen honors from the Emmys, Golden Globes, DGA, PGA, and SAGs.

As if that weren’t enough, creator Craig Mazin also had the best line of the evening, calling his wife, “sometimes the Cinemax of wives,” effectively one-upping a previous writer’s acceptance speech calling his wife “the HBO of wives.”

Though cold comfort for a first season that went largely overlooked by awards bodies, Netflix’s “Dead to Me” won the episodic comedy award for creator Liz Feldman’s writing on the pilot episode. But it could make for warm and fuzzy feelings towards the show whenever its second season arrives, most likely before the end of Emmy eligibility on May 31.

There were few long-term implications from the rest of the WGA TV awards, with wins for HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” FX’s “Fosse/Verdon,” and Fox’s “The Simpsons.

But Netflix did score two of the nicest surprises of the evening in the form of awards for Ryan O’Connell’s “Special” in the short form new media category and a big win for “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson” in variety comedy – sketch series, arguably the funniest show on TV.

So kick back and enjoy the Academy Awards next weekend, take a day and celebrate the conclusion of film’s award season, then join us back here for the long march to Emmy night.

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