“The peer award hits different, don’t it? I feel good,” said “Abbott Elementary” creator-star Quinta Brunson accepting the award for Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series at the 2023 Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night.
That same sentiment was shared among those giving acceptance speeches for the other seven TV categories, as the SAG Awards are the first American awards show of the season where the winners are determined by their fellow actors that are members of the union. Because many of those members vote for the Oscars and the Emmys, the show is also seen as a bellwether for what to expect at those major award shows where the winners are also determined by their industry peers.
However, on the TV front, the eligibility window is very different from the Primetime Emmys, so some 2023 SAG Award winners like Outstanding Male Actor in a Drama Series recipient Jason Bateman (“Ozark”) and Outstanding Male Actor in a TV Movie or Limited Series recipient Sam Elliott (“1883”) already finished their Emmy runs last fall (neither won), and will not be back in contention come September. Still, it was sweet hearing the 78-year-old Elliott begin his acceptance speech by saying, “What can I say in 45 seconds after just receiving the most meaningful acknowledgement of my 55-year career from a group of my peers, many of whom I don’t even know?”
The biggest takeaway from the 2023 SAG Awards was that “The White Lotus” will be just fine should it move to the Drama categories at the Emmys. The hit HBO series returned to the SAG Awards this year, and fared even better than it did last year, where star Jennifer Coolidge, nominated for Season 1, lost Outstanding Female Actor in a TV Movie or Limited Series to “Mare of Easttown” Actress Kate Winslet.
This year, an earnest Coolidge got to go onstage as the Outstanding Female Actor in a Drama Series winner and say “I want you all to know that I am just so grateful.” She would later return with the rest of the cast to accept the award for Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series, and stand near co-star F. Murray Abraham, as the Oscar winner said that “The White Lotus” was “the best job I’ve ever had.”
While it was booted out of the Limited or Anthology Series Emmy categories by the TV Academy for an ongoing storyline, “The White Lotus” was given the option to choose between the Drama or Comedy categories. But just looking at the shows it would have had to compete against in the Comedy categories at the SAG Awards, it is unlikely that the Mike White-helmed show will go that route, given the even stiffer competition.
Voters very much spread the wealth this year, giving a second Outstanding Female Actor in a Comedy Series trophy to “Hacks” star Jean Smart, and Outstanding Male Actor in a Comedy Series to Jeremy Allen White, star of the freshman Hulu dramedy “The Bear,” in addition to the aforementioned win for “Abbott Elementary” its first year being eligible for the SAG Awards.
Lastly, although Elliott is not returning to Paramount+ anthology series “1883,” the surprise Outstanding Female Actor in a TV Movie or Limited Series win for Jessica Chastain, for winter miniseries “George & Tammy” from sister network Showtime, beating Emmy winner Amanda Seyfried (“The Dropout”), does bring parent company Paramount hope that it can break into more categories at the Emmys this year, even as it goes through a major restructuring.
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