What does a half-hour comedy series need to do to win a comedy SAG Award these days? That was the question posed by this year’s awards, which snubbed what had been considered comedies for decades in favor of genre-bending hourlong series that straddle the worlds of drama and comedy. The three comedy series SAG Awards went to Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black (best ensemble, actress Uzo Aduba) and Showtime’s Shameless (actor William H. Macy).
These were the first SAG Awards nominations for the two shows in their first season competing as comedy series. Netflix and Showtime made the controversial category switch last spring, going into the Emmy Awards. For Shameless, it came after the series competed as a drama for the first three seasons to very little awards attention. For Orange, the change was made after a run as a drama yielded only a Golden Globe nom.
The completed domination of the comedy field by drama series with comedy elements tonight will likely reignite the debate whether the TV Academy needs to better redefine the comedy category.
Among the actors in half-hour comedies that lost out to Macy tonight was Jim Parsons, still in search of his first SAG Award. It is a head-scratcher — the Big Bang Theory star has now won four Emmys for his showy role on the biggest show on television but is yet to get a recognition from his peers.
And Orange ended Modern Family‘s four-year streak as best comedy ensemble as the acclaimed ABC comedy was left empty-handed.
A big leap for Netflix, from three nominations last year to three wins tonight to top the network list — two for Orange and one for House Of Cards (drama actor Kevin Spacey).
HBO was second, taking home both long-form categories, for Mark Ruffalo (The Normal Heart) and Frances McDormand (Olive Kitteridge). It was a first award for both for their HBO movies. For Ruffalo, it came at the very end of The Normal Heart‘s awards cycle, so this makes up for previous snubs, while Olive Kitteridge is yet to compete at the Emmys.
The drama winners were all over the place. With no big frontrunner like last year’s Breaking Bad, the actors guild went with old favorite — 2013 winner Downton Abbey repeating as best ensemble — and a newcomer — How To Get Away With Murder‘s Viola Davis.
While the SAGs failed to nominate three first-year shows that triumphed at the Golden Globes, Amazon’s Transparent, Showtime’s The Affair and the CW’s Jane The Virgin, they still awarded a freshman in HTGAWM‘s Davis in her first major recognition for the twisty murder mystery.
On a night where there were no black nominees on the film side, it was nice to see Davis, Aduba and the diverse cast of Orange onstage, a recognition of the fact that television offers more, flashier, award-worthy roles for minority actors right now.
HTGAWM and Downton Abbey held the flag for broadcast TV, which was shut out until the very last two categories.
It’s hard to believe but HBO’s True Detective ended its awards run without a single major acting nod for its A-list leading duo of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. Did they split the vote by competing against each other in every race? In their final ceremony for the broody HBO cop show, they saw the drama actor SAG Award go to House Of Cards‘ Spacey, his first for the Netflix political drama.