‘Fleabag’ Leads Winners at TCA

48451109632_ecd8da42b6_zBEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — “Fleabag” flew at the 35th annual Television Critics Awards Saturday night, and David Milch was honored for a lifetime of television writing as well as his last great opus, “Deadwood.”
Phoebe Waller-Bridge – a winner last year for co-creating “Killing Eve” - won program of the year for the second season of her Amazon comedy Fleabag, in which she stars, and through fourth-wall glances, makes the viewer complicit in her life decisions.
“You have made my year,” she said to critics at the event, after picking up the Program of the Year award. It was her third trip to the podium after the show also won Outstanding Achievement in Comedy and Individual Achievement in Comedy.
Milch, 74, was the night’s other multiple winner, with both a Lifetime Achievement Award for a career of creating or co-creating shows from “Hill Street Blues” to “NYPD Blue” and a Heritage Award for “Deadwood,” which ran three seasons from 2004-2006 but reconvened for the well-received “Deadwood: The Movie,” released in May.
Frailer now, and dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, he gave critics “heartfelt thanks for walking with me in my journey.”
“The dirty secret is how deeply we care about what critics write,” he said.
Michelle Williams gave an equally moving speech accepting Individual Achievement in Drama honors for her transformative portrayal in the FX limited series ”Fosse/Verdon.”
She thanked critics “for acknowledging the expansive spirit that was Gwen Verdon, who loved to give speeches.”
Williams said she was less excited to give speeches, but spun a personal tale that began with cold auditions as a 10-year-old, to her yearning to be part of the TV families she’d watch on TV, to her work on adapting various sets of “rubber teeth” to become Verdon in the series. She thanked co-star Sam Rockwell who “made the make believe seem like true believing.”
The poignancy of the speech seemed to rattle Amy Poehler, on hand as a producer of the winning Outstanding New Program, for Netflix’ “Russian Doll,” who said she wanted to ‘thank everyone for being so prepared,” but added “I could be crying all the time, I’m so overcome with gratitude with how it’s been received.
Show star and creator Natasha Lyonne said, “if ’Russian Doll’ can teach us anything, it’s to live a little, because we’re all going to die.”
For all its viewership, the final season of Game of Thrones was bested by “Better Call Saul” for Outstanding Achievement in Drama, which executive producer Peter Gould called an enormous honor “for a spin-off in its fourth year.”
Winning a TCA Award in its 22nd season was Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming for “Arthur,” the PBS animated show which was cited for depicting a same gender marriage.
“So this is what it’s like to be at the grownups’ table,” said show creator Marc Brown, who added that “telling children the truth is the most important thing we’ve done with ‘Arthur.’”
Series star Jared Harris accepted the award for Outstanding Achievement in Movies or Miniseries for HBO’s ”Chernobyl.”
“Tragedy reminds us of our shared humanity,” he said. “I’m proud to have shared this story with the world.”
John Oliver took the Outstanding Achievement in Sketch/Variety Shows for the second year in a row, but had to send a tape of thanks since his “Last Week Tonight” is in production. His clip demonstrated how his team researches for comedy on the show by reviewing the TCA schedule and saying he hoped the critics liked their Hulu Spa Day.
Also winning for a second year in a row, but showing up in person this time, were the Fab Five from Netflix’ “Queer Eye.” One of the men who told his story of abuse in HBO’s “Leaving Neverland” was on hand to see it win Outstanding Achievement in News and Information.
The show was hosted by the wisecracking stars of Showtime’s late night “Desus & Mero,” who lobbed commentary on various shows as the evening went on, even as they tossed Honey Buns from their native Bronx to the Beverly Hills crowd.
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