Netflix Adds Quirk to SAG Awards, as Fran Drescher and Barbra Streisand Shine

Netflix Adds Quirk to SAG Awards

Netflix took a unique approach to their awards show, setting a different tone right from the beginning. Presenter and quasi-host Idris Elba made it clear to the attending nominees that they had the freedom to use expletives in their speeches, but also reminded them to keep it respectful, saying, “You wouldn’t say anything you wouldn’t say in front of Oprah.” However, the promised wild and kooky atmosphere, suggested by Elba’s remarks and an incident involving Meryl Streep walking into a mic stand, didn’t quite materialize.

SAG Award Show 2024

The shift to streaming for the SAG Awards was significant, marking a transition from traditional cable networks to a new platform. After a transitional year in 2023 when the ceremony aired on Netflix’s YouTube channel, it seemed like a safe space for attendees to speak openly and honestly. This move reflected the evolving landscape of entertainment and the increasing influence of streaming platforms in the industry.

Related: SAG Awards 2024: “Oppenheimer” Takes Home the Top TV Prizes, While “Succession” and “The Bear” Dominate

However, while the ceremony’s attempt at reinvention deserves recognition, it may have missed the mark in catering to the priorities of actors during awards season. Despite this, the event still served its primary purpose of generating buzz and anticipation for the upcoming Oscars. Notably, Lily Gladstone and Cillian Murphy emerged as winners in fiercely competitive categories, delivering heartfelt speeches that resonated with viewers.

The much-touted anything-goes atmosphere promised at the beginning of the show didn’t define the uniqueness of Netflix’s SAG Awards. Instead, it was the decision to forgo commercial breaks entirely, replacing them with post-win interviews conducted by “Queer Eye” star Tan France. These interviews, featuring talents like Ayo Edebiri and Da’Vine Joy Randolph, offered a fresh and intimate glimpse into the winners’ thoughts and emotions. Both Edebiri and Randolph charmed audiences with their humility and candidness, navigating the new requirement of on-camera interviews seamlessly.

This format meant that viewers were in for the long haul, as the ceremony extended beyond the expected two-hour mark. Even without traditional ad breaks, the broadcast still faced the challenge of pacing and length. Winner Jeremy Allen White, from TV’s “The Bear,” humorously remarked on the ample time given for acceptance speeches before gracefully concluding his own. Despite the extended runtime, participants like White remained engaged and appreciative of the unique format, contributing to the overall lively atmosphere of the event.

Some additions to the SAG Awards program seemed to backfire, such as a video segment featuring “Abbott Elementary” performer Lisa Ann Walter revealing recordings of her conversations with fellow nominees via a hidden mic. The segment felt lackluster and mundane, leaving viewers longing for the familiar reprieve of commercial breaks.

However, the SAGs truly shone when they delved into the essence of what makes an awards show special. By restructuring the event to eliminate ad breaks, the ceremony encountered moments of spontaneity, like attendees casually moving about during segments honoring Best Ensemble nominees. This lack of rigid structure fostered genuine and impactful speeches, including a moving address from Lifetime Achievement award recipient Barbra Streisand, reminiscent of Jodie Foster’s memorable speech at the 2013 Golden Globes. Streisand’s candid reflections on the significance of movies as a form of escapism resonated deeply with many in the audience.

One of the defining features of Netflix’s SAG Awards was the ample space provided to its winners. Yet, at times, this freedom may have been excessive, with post-win analyses bordering on overly self-referential. Nevertheless, the night’s ultimate victor, SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher, delivered a standout performance. Drescher’s impassioned speech, delivered in her signature fiery style and adorned in a striking red sequined dress, rallied the audience, affirming their collective strength as champions. She even touched on the looming threat of artificial intelligence, humorously cautioning against a future where reality becomes obscured by technology.

While the ceremony may have slightly exceeded its two-hour runtime, its experimental spirit resonated well with the Netflix audience. Although the post-victory interviews may have lacked depth, they provided a comfortable alternative to the chaos of the Oscars press room. Ultimately, while SAG may not reign supreme in the awards season hierarchy, Netflix’s presentation of the event showcased a commendable effort, ensuring that they emerged far from being labeled as the underdogs.

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