LOS ANGELES -- "The Handmaid's Tale," Hulu's harrowing, yet occasionally hilarious adaptation of the Margaret Atwood novel, was named program of the year Saturday at the 33rd Annual TV Critics Association Awards in Los Angeles. Series stars Elisabeth Moss and Alexis Bledel were on hand to accept honors for both the evening's top award as well as outstanding achievement in drama.

"Handmaid's" may not be spending as much time on the awards circuit as, say "Game of Thrones," but the small-screen critics often go their own way with an stronger emphasis on underdogs and diversity than The Emmys, Oscars or Golden Globes.

That was particularly true this year with every single nominee up for outstanding individual achievement in comedy or drama being either a woman or performer of color. Carrie Coon won in drama for her work in "Fargo" and "The Leftovers" and Donald Glover was saluted for "Atlanta."

What also separates the event is the fact that winners are informed ahead of time and the ceremonies are not televised, which makes it easier for stars to let down their hair. Sterling K. Brown ("This Is Us") joined host Kristin Chenoweth on stage for a rendition of "Wicked"'s "For Good," but only after double checking that no cameras were rolling

Reese WItherspoon, on hand to celebrate "Big Little Lies"'s win for outstanding movies, mini-series and specials, read co-star Nicole Kidman's note of thanks in an Australian accent. Twin Cities own Cedric Yarbrough playfully threatened to perform a number from "Hamilton" after his sitcom "Speechless" was honored for outstanding achievement in youth programming. Leah Remini got teary eyed sharing her fears of backlash for producing "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath," selected as the best in reality programming.

In addition to celebrating the best of the past year, the TCA also honors legends. Ken Burns got the lifetime achievement award and "Seinfeld" won the prestigious Heritage Award, which I was honored to present alongside the Wall Street Journal's Joe Flint.

Thank goodness there was no cameras rolling for that.


 

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