The 14th annual Television Academy Honors list is out, recognizing seven exceptional TV programs and their producers who used powerful and innovative storytelling to advance social change.
The list spans three documentaries, two dramas, an anthology series and a late-night comedy news show: For Life, I Am Greta, I May Destroy You, Little America, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, The Social Dilemma and Welcome to Chechnya. Read details on each program below.
Television Academy Honors annually celebrates programs across numerous platforms and genres that elevate complex issues facing society. This year’s honorees addressed racism, criminal justice, social justice, sexual assault, LGBTQ+ persecution, immigration and climate change — energizing, educating and challenging audiences around the world.
“During one of the most challenging years in television history, these seven extraordinary programs illuminated and championed some of the most critical issues facing our communities,” said Television Academy Chairman and CEO Frank Scherma. Added Howard Meltzer, governor for the Academy’s Casting Peer Group who, chaired this year’s Television Academy Honors selection committee: “In a year defined by a significant social justice movement, it was inspiring to see so many compelling stories highlighting the important issues of our day. It is so gratifying to see our community of groundbreaking writers, producers, directors and actors take on empowering stories that have such a profound and positive impact on viewers.”
Here are details about the recipients of the 14th Television Academy Honors:
(ABC Studios in association with Sony Pictures Television)
For Life is a fictional serialized legal and family drama inspired by the life of Isaac Wright Jr., imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. The series’ protagonist Aaron Wallace becomes a lawyer while in prison, litigating cases for other inmates while fighting to overturn his own life sentence. Through the window of Wallace’s ferocious struggle and complicated relationship with a progressive female prison warden, the flaws and challenges in our penal and legal systems are exposed. (ABC)
I Am Greta
The story of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is told through compelling, never-before-seen footage in this intimate documentary from Swedish director Nathan Grossman. Starting with her one-person school strike for climate action outside the Swedish Parliament, Grossman follows Greta—a shy student with Asperger’s—in her rise to prominence and her galvanizing global impact as she sparks school strikes around the world. The film culminates with her extraordinary wind-powered voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City. (Hulu)
I May Destroy You
(HBO in association with BBC)
Michaela Coel stars in this fearless, frank and provocative series that explores the question of sexual consent in contemporary life and how, in the new landscape of dating and relationships, we make the distinction between liberation and exploitation. (HBO)
Inspired by true stories featured in Epic magazine, Little America goes beyond the headlines to look at the funny, romantic, heartfelt, inspiring and surprising stories of immigrants in America, when they’re more relevant now than ever. (Apple TV+)
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
As countless social justice crises played out against the backdrop of a global pandemic, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah marked these tragedies as chances to elevate marginalized perspectives and help audiences make sense of the world’s many contradictions. Alongside the most diverse news team in late night, Trevor harnesses his unique ability to calmly analyze, skillfully explain and provide crucial commentary on complex social issues including race, equity and social justice—all while deftly balancing humor with advocacy for underrepresented points of view. (Comedy Central)
‘The Social Dilemma’ Filmmakers Say Social Media Companies Have “Polluted” Our “Information Ecosystem” – Contenders TV Docs + Unscripted
The Social Dilemma
(An Exposure Labs Production in association with Argent Pictures for Netflix)
Digital platforms have increasingly become our lifelines to stay connected. In The Social Dilemma, key tech insiders question the consequences of our dependence and show how social media is reprogramming civilization by exposing what’s hiding on the other side of your screen. (Netflix)
Welcome to Chechnya
(HBO Documentary Films presents a Public Square Films production, a David France and Joy A. Tomchin film in association with Ninety Thousand Words, Maylo Films and BBC Storyville)
Directed by acclaimed writer and Oscar®-nominated director David France, Welcome to Chechnya shadows a group of brave activists risking their lives to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ campaign in the Russian republic of Chechnya. With unfettered access and a commitment to protecting anonymity, this documentary exposes these underreported atrocities, while highlighting an extraordinary group of people confronting deadly brutality. (HBO)
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