I May Destroy You Earns a 2021 Peabody Award, Raises Emmy Expectations

Illustration for article titled I May Destroy You Earns a 2021 Peabody Award, Raises Emmy Expectations

Screenshot: HBO

The multi-day celebration that is the 81st annual Peabody Awards continued on Wednesday with some well-deserved flowers for HBO’s I May Destroy You, the much beloved limited series created by and starring Michaela Coel, which won in the Entertainment category.

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Per a press release provided to The Root:

One of the year’s most critically-acclaimed series is the provocative brainchild of British screenwriter, director, producer, and actor, Michaela Coel. The story centers on her character Arabella, who awakens from a night on the town with fragmented memories of having been sexually assaulted. With a compelling narrative that mirrors the structural rhythms of psychological trauma, the show defines the emergent subgenre of consent drama and takes center stage in a developing cultural conversation around complex issues of sexuality and consent, freedom and abuse, friendship and trust.

Coel’s award was presented by fellow Briton Thandiwe Newton, who read a statement by the Peabody Awards committee lauding Coel’s nuanced and deeply layered narrative and performance, which grappled with the aftermath of sexual assault with a deft, compassionate and occasionally comic hand. Coel accepted the award with an emotional and somewhat confessional speech which touched on the series’ roots in her own trauma and the unexpected ripple effect of empathy I May Destroy You created.

As Variety reports, fans of the show may also see it get some love at the 2021 Emmy Awards on July 13, especially with a contender pool that has significantly reduced the number of scripted series eligible for nomination, due to the pandemic (493, down from 532). To take the industry’s temperature on potential frontrunners, Variety polled more than 130 contenders across categories to gauge their favorites.

“[O]ne stood out as a clear front-runner: HBO and Michaela Coel’s limited series ‘I May Destroy You’ had 21.5% of polled contenders selecting it as something they hope to see on the final ballot,” reports the outlet.

“I think Michaela Coel is great and [‘I May Destroy You’] was one season of television in which every episode made me feel and really forced me to go inward,” Pose co-creator and showrunner Steven Canals told Variety, later adding, “that was one that made me sit up in a way that television hadn’t in a while.”

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“I think that it is groundbreaking in the truest sense of the word,” added WandaVision creator Jac Schaeffer. “She took subject matter that can be so tough and alienating and complex, and she invited us entirely inside the experience and it was funny and deeply surprising, and the twists and turns of that show go so far beyond narrative cleverness. And it changed me as a person and as a storyteller.”

As for the Peabodys, other winners of the day included the Obama co-produced Crip Camp in the Documentary category and KING-TV’s “Facing Race” in the Public Service category. The remaining Peabody Awards will be presented virtually on Thursday, June 24 from 12 p.m. to 1:10 p.m. ET. A complete list of nominees and acceptance speeches can be found on the Peabody Awards website.

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