GIVE STERLING K. BROWN ALL THE AWARDS. What have I been saying all season? I’m not one to gloat (I totally am) but 12 days ago I wrote that This Is Us is the best drama on network television. Last night, the SAG Awards validated my correct opinion by naming Sterling. K Brown the first black man to win Best Actor in a Drama Series in SAG history (HOW? Answer: racism) and awarding This is Us with one of the night’s highest honour, Best Ensemble in a TV Drama.
Recently though, a show being the best drama on network TV doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed award show victories. In 2007, The Sopranos succeeded Grey’s Anatomy to win Best Ensemble TV Drama. Since then, a network TV show had not won the award, until now. This Is Us was up against The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things and Game of Thrones. Yeah, the category was STACKED and the Pearsons were definitely the underdogs which is why, when they won, the cast reacted like this:
This reaction is EVERYTHING. I was watching the show on about a 2-minute delay so when Lainey texted me that This Is Us won, Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson were still fumbling through presenting the category. Lainey’s spoiler took away my moment to revel in the rapturous surprise celebration which is also why I wasn’t sobbing through Milo Ventimiglia’s speech like I normally would have. I did, however, find myself with a face full of tears an hour later while watching Sterling K. Brown’s backstage interview:
We’ve written a lot on this site about burden, pressure, honour and everything else that comes with being the first, or the First Only Different (FOD, coined by Shonda Rhimes). Sterling K. Brown has become the FOD multiple times in the past year. He’s given a lot of great speeches. After his last speech, I wrote that he might be experiencing a bit of award season fatigue. SKB breaking down in this moment is so special because I’m sure it has a bit to do with being overwhelmed by another big FOD win and the relief of knowing he can share this one with the cast – a cast that genuinely seems to like each other a lot. Also, SKB clearly understands how unlikely it is that this show and this cast walked away with this award. In his Critic’s Choice Awards speech, Sterling K. Brown alluded to the fact that This Is Us isn’t like the high-brow cable shows we typically see winning at these events.
“It’s not the darkest or the sexiest [show] but we got a lot of heart.”
It’s not surprising to me that a show with “a lot of heart” is resonating with viewers and voters. I think The Handmaid’s Tale is brilliant but I just wrote about how tough it is to watch. The everyday news cycle feels like one big prequel to a real life The Handmaid’s Tale so in comparison, This Is Us is like the TV equivalent of a warm hug. It’s comfort food. Right now, it’s vital.
It also doesn’t hurt that This is Us winning proves something that I talk to my dog on my couch about often: network TV not only still produces great content,network TV is still relevant. (Full disclosure: I work for a television network.)
Finally, my favourite part of the night was when Milo Ventimiglia thanked me personally.
“The people that watch with us very Tuesday night and embrace the show that reflects positivity and hope and inclusion, we love you. Thank you very much."
Love you too. You’re welcome.