SAG Awards TV Analysis: ‘Schitt’s Creek’ and ‘The Crown’ Appear to Be Unstoppable

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Michael Schneider
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As usual, the SAG Awards manages to pick up what the Golden Globe nominations left off. In particular, the biggest mistake the mostly solid Globes nods made this year, in missing the boat on Michaela Coel’s stunning, heartbreaking HBO series “I May Destroy You.”

Coel landed a first-ever SAG Award nom in the female actor in a TV movie or limited series category for playing Arabella in “I May Destroy You,” in a strong field that also includes fellow first-timer Anya Taylor-Joy, for “The Queen’s Gambit,” as well as superstars Cate Blanchett (“Mrs. America”), Nicole Kidman (“The Undoing”) and Kerry Washington (“Little Fires Everywhere”).

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Other shows overlooked by the Globes on Wednesday but acknowledged by the SAG Awards include Netflix’s buzzy “Bridgerton” (for drama ensemble, as well as Regé-Jean Page in the drama male actor field), the “Dead to Me” duo of Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, both of whom will compete together in the female actor in a comedy category, and AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” which did lead the WGA Awards on Wednesday, and have now picked up two more SAG nods.

Overall, the SAG Awards nominations didn’t come with too many surprises, and offered up what we’ve come to expect from the actors competition, including a good dose of representation and inclusion. And this being an award for performers, the nominations reflect big, bold performances — and are heavy on depictions of historical figures such as Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly, Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in “Hamilton,” Ethan Hawke as John Brown in “The Good Lord Bird,” and “The Crown” cast of Gillian Anderson (Margaret Thatcher), Olivia Colman (Queen Elizabeth II), Emma Corrin (Princess Diana) and Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles).

Now, just like Hollywood Foreign Press Association members, the SAG Awards voting body has a choice on their hands: Award some newcomers, or honor established programs and stars? There is no shortage of first-timers on the docket this time; besides “Bridgerton,” freshman shows in the ensemble categories include HBO Max’s “The Flight Attendant,” Hulu’s “The Great,” HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” and Apple TV Plus’ “Ted Lasso.”

All boast deep and deserving casts. The drama ensemble category has actually undergone a complete changeover from last year’s race, with the exception of “The Crown.” But “The Crown” also happens to be the incumbent winner, and returned for a fourth season with even more attention, thanks in part to the additions of Anderson and Corrin and the focus on both the relationships between Charles and Diana, and the Queen vs. Thatcher. That will be hard to beat, even though competitors “Better Call Saul,” “Bridgerton,” “Lovecraft Country” and “Ozark” are all amazing in their own rights.

On the comedy side, “Schitt’s Creek” is the only holdover from last year (as 2020 winner “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is not eligible this cycle). It’s up against “Dead to Me,” “The Flight Attendant,” “The Great” and “Ted Lasso.”

Like the Globes, SAG could get out in front of the Emmys and award “Ted Lasso” first. But the staying power of “Schitt’s Creek” is undeniable. Nearly a year after the show’s finale, “Schitt’s Creek” remains a pop culture phenomenon, and counts the industry as some of its biggest fans. Stars Eugene Levy, Dan Levy, Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy all got individual nominations on Thursday morning, in addition to “Schitt’s Creek’s” ensemble nod. That’s telling, even though that last season was already fêted to the extreme at the Emmys last September.

You come at the masters, you best not miss. “Schitt’s Creek” and “The Crown” both landed five nominations at the 27th Annual SAG Awards, more than any other shows. There’s a lot of great TV out there, and time for it to shine. But with a voting body as large as the SAG Awards, smart money is on the biggest shows out there — and it’s hard to get bigger than “The Crown” and “Schitt’s Creek.”

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