‘Watchmen,’ ‘When They See Us’ among Peabody winners that tackle racism


HBO’s “Watchmen” and Netflix’s “When They See Us,” two acclaimed TV dramas that tackle racism and police brutality against Black people, are among the recipients of the 2020 Peabody Awards.

“This year’s winners are a vibrant collective of inspiring, innovative, and powerful stories. True to the spirit and legacy of Peabody, our winners are also distinguished by the presence and resilience of many emerging and diverse voices,” said Jeffrey P. Jones, executive director of Peabody in a statement accompanying Wednesday’s announcement.

This year’s Peabody honorees stand out for the range of important social issues they address — a habitual blind spot for other Hollywood awards bodies. Along with “Watchmen” and “When They See Us” — both of which were shut out of the Golden Globes, for example — the documentary “True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality” and the podcast “In The Dark: The Path Home” are among the winners that zoom in on systemic racism in policing and the criminal justice system.

VIDEO | 01:47
George the Poet Accepts Peabody Award

Though the acceptance speeches were recorded before the recent nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, they nonetheless grapple with the issues at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has taken over the streets of the world to condemn police brutality against Black people.

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“If you watched their story and you felt something, I invite you to consider doing something,” said “When They See Us” creator and director Ava DuVernay in her acceptance speech, referring to the five exonerated men portrayed in the series. (The speech will be posted to the Peabody Awards website at a later date.)

“There’s no right way,” she continued. “Do what you feel where you are, but don’t let your anger and sadness after watching the series be all. Cases like this are happening on our watch. People who are poor and innocent are behind bars, while the rich and guilty walk free and gain power. Some even sit in the Oval Office.”


“There are so many problems in the world that have been sustained by narratives of fear and anger … [which] are the essential ingredients of injustice and oppression,” said Stevenson in his speech. “To fight against that narrative, we need other narratives. Our filmmakers, our storytellers, our writers create that.”

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Bryan Stevenson accepts Peabody Award

“The legacy of racial injustice has burdened so many,” he continued. “I’m honored that our narrative, our work of trying to respond to that burden, to respond to the presumption of dangers and guilt that continues to plague Black and brown people, to respond to the absence of truth-telling of our history, was the subject of this film.”

Other winners highlight the persistence of rape culture, the importance of immigrant rights, the urgency of the climate change crisis and authoritarian threats to democracy, among other pressing subjects .

Additionally, PBS’ “Frontline” and Fox’s “The Simpsons” were named recipients of Institutional Awards, honoring programs that have made a significant impact on media programming and the cultural landscape. Cicely Tyson was named winner of the Peabody Career Achievement Award on Monday. The in-person awards ceremony, originally scheduled for June 18, has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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See the full list of winners below:


“Chernobyl” (HBO)
“David Makes Man” (OWN)
“Dickinson” (Apple TV+)
“Fleabag” (Amazon Prime Video)
“Ramy” (Hulu)
“Stranger Things” (Netflix)
“Succession” (HBO)
“Unbelievable” (Netflix)
“Watchmen” (HBO)
“When They See Us” (Netflix)


“Apollo 11” (CNN)
“For Sama” (PBS)
“Independent Lens: Hale County This Morning, This Evening” (PBS)
“POV: Inventing Tomorrow” (PBS)
“POV: Midnight Traveler” (PBS)
“POV: The Distant Barking of Dogs” (PBS)
“POV: The Silence of Others” (PBS)
“Surviving R. Kelly” (Lifetime)
“The Edge of Democracy” (Netflix)
“True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality” (HBO)


“Dolly Parton’s America” (WNYC)
“Have You Heard George’s Podcast?” (BBC Sounds)
“In the Dark: The Path Home” (APM Reports)
“Threshold: The Refuge” (Auricle Productions)


“A Different Kind of Force: Policing Mental Illness” (NBC News)
“American Betrayal” (NBC/MSNBC)
“Long Island Divided” (Newsday)
“The Hidden Workforce: Undocumented in America” (CNN)
“Unwarranted” (WBBM-TV)

Children’s & Youth

“Molly of Denali” (PBS Kids)