The HBO vs. Netflix rivalry has never been hotter — but the premium cabler took the latest round in the awards race, triumphing at the Screen Actors Guild awards.
The premium cabler, which had 12 nominations to Netflix’s 19 going into the night, went home with five trophies — two for “Veep,” two for “Big Little Lies” (for stars Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgard), and one for “Game of Thrones” (for stunt ensemble).
Netflix had to settle for just one, for Claire Foy’s star turn in “The Crown.” “Stranger Things” and “GLOW” were both shut out, despite their multiple nods. Streaming had a rough night overall, with Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” — an awards favorite — also going home empty-handed. It’s a turnaround from last year, when Netflix reigned supreme on the heels of “Stranger Things,” “The Crown,” and “Orange Is the New Black.”
The unsatiable appetite for stories that tackle political headlines — and the HBO comedy’s razor-sharp parody — propelled “Veep” to the top of the comedy races, going two for two with wins for best ensemble and star Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Her win, though, was hardly a surprise, repeating her triumph last year. Ditto the win for William H. Macy (“Shameless”), who took home the trophy again.
There was far more drama on the, well, drama side, with NBC’s “This Is Us” snagging the top prize. The win for the NBC family drama — which hails from 20th Century Fox — represented a return for broadcast to the winners’ circle. The last time a broadcast drama won the top prize was ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” back in 2006. “The people that watch with us every Tuesday night and embrace the show that reflects positivity and hope and inclusion, we love you,” said star Milo Ventimiglia in his acceptance speech on behalf of the jubilant cast.
NBC also won for lead male actor, with Sterling K. Brown now becoming a familiar face at the podium — and once again, breaking a racial barrier as the first black man to win in the category. Though he lost this race to John Lithgow last year for “The Crown,” Brown now has two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe — positioning him as a clear favorite going into the Emmy race. “What a blessing it is to do what you love for a living,” said Brown onstage. “What an honor it is to be recognized by your peers for a job well done.”
The night’s other big plot twist was Foy’s win for “The Crown” — besting rival Elisabeth Moss, who’s won every time the two have gone to head-to-head so far. The game is on for the upcoming Emmys, with Season 2 of “Handmaid’s” set to debut in April. But will voters be swayed by the opportunity to crown Foy for the last time in the role?
Of course, the Emmys are still months away — with the now-familiar glut of series set to debut in March and April, getting in just under the wire before the Television Academy’s eligibility window closes.