‘The Good Lord Bird,’ ‘Unorthodox’ Among Second Batch of 2021 Peabody Award Winners

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The Good Lord Bird” and “Unorthodox” are two of the latest Peabody Award winners, announced Tuesday.

This year the 81st annual Peabody Awards are being virtually presented over the course of four days. The first batch of eight were announced Monday, June 21, with another seven following suit the following day.

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Showtime’s limited series adaptation of James McBride’s novel of the same name, “The Good Lord Bird,” and Netflix’s four-part limited series inspired by Deborah Feldman’s memoir of the same name, “Unorthodox,” are the two latest award recipients from the entertainment category.

Other newly crowned winners are MTV Documentary Films’ “76 Days” (in the documentary category), The Washington Post’s “Post Reports: The Life of George Floyd” (in the podcast/radio category) and, in news, PBS/GBH’s “Whose Vote Counts,” Showtime’s “Losing Ground” installment of “Vice on Showtime” and ITV’s “Muslim in Trump’s America (Exposure).”

These seven new winners were chosen from a pool of 60 nominees in total. Those nominees were announced in May and, as always, represent “the most compelling and empowering stories released in broadcasting and streaming media” during the last year. The winners were selected by the Peabody Awards Board of Jurors.

The remaining winners will be announced Wednesday, June 23 and Thursday, June 24 between 9 and 10:10 a.m. PT. Wednesday’s list will include two more in the entertainment category, as well as three more in documentary, one more in news and one in the public service category. Wednesday’s final crop of winners will include the final one in the entertainment category, the final two in documentary, the final two in news, and one more each in podcast/radio, children’s & youth and public service.

Read on below for how Peabody described Tuesday’s seven winners:

“The Good Lord Bird”
“Part fiction, part history, and part dramatic satire, this Showtime limited series boldly yet humorously examines the enigmatic abolitionist John Brown. With Ethan Hawke’s rich and complex portrayal of a madman who would become a martyr, Brown’s competing legacies are given ample room to coexist. The miniseries can’t help but follow in his wake and give us an irreverent history lesson that feels fresh and pressing for our times.”

“A riveting thriller, the series takes a hard look at how a religious community enforces strict gender roles to maintain its identity no matter the human cost. With the raw and authentic Shira Haas as Esty, Unorthodox merges a stark portrayal of religious oppression with a coming-of-age story that resonates with gritty, desperate innocence.”

“76 Days”
“This is a hopeful film that does more than just document the beginning of the global pandemic in the lockdown period of Wuhan, China — the city in which cases of the coronavirus were first reported. It is a film about resilience, compassion, empathy, improvisation, the power of human touch and caring hearts as much as it is about panic, suffering, and indiscriminate victims. Using a direct cinema technique across four hospitals, the film captures frontline workers and the sick and dying while eschewing the story of politics and government action and statistics.”

“Post Reports: The Life of George Floyd”
“George Floyd’s death ignited a global movement to end the plague of state violence against African Americans. Rather than focus on his death, The Washington Post sought to answer a simple but enlightening question: ‘What about his life?’ Rather than a straightforward biography, their special podcast episode offers a more expansive view of Floyd’s life, keenly laying out how systemic racism operates across many institutions, creating sharply disparate outcomes in housing, education, the economy, law enforcement, and health care. The Post Reports team sketches a moving portrait of a man and of a nation, one that feels all the more archetypal for its familiar trappings.”

“Whose Vote Counts”
“From the legal battles over primary election absentee ballots to how the pandemic would exacerbate unfounded concerns over ‘rampant voter fraud’ in November, Whose Vote Counts presents a clear breakdown of the way racial inequities, COVID-19, and voter suppression became interlinked crises in 2020. In collaboration with Columbia Journalism Investigations, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and USA Today, the team at Frontline and writer Jelani Cobb offer a probing and thorough investigation into the simple question of the piece’s title.”

“Vice on Showtime: Losing Ground”
“Correspondent Alzo Slade explores how a little-known type of ownership known as ‘heirs property’ leaves African Americans especially vulnerable to losing their property to unscrupulous developers through arcane and ethically questionable legal mechanisms. The abstract maneuvers occur in piecemeal, hard-to-follow fashion, but the cumulative result is that entire families are displaced and inheritances lost. ‘Losing Ground’ dramatizes how the law so often favors the ruthless and illuminates a dark side of American property rights.”

“Muslim in Trump’s America (Exposure)”
“In this rigorously reported film that chronicles the dangerous climate created around Muslims and other groups targeted during Trump’s presidency, director Deeyah Khan investigates the connection between rising hate crimes and state-sponsored racism with stories of those at the center of the storm: the downward spiral of a Kansas farmer serving 30 years for an anti-Muslim bomb plot; the conspiracy-filled world of right wing, armed militia who believe that Islam is infiltrating the United States; the painful reality of Muslims whose loved ones were hunted and killed by white supremacists; and the complex duties of embattled lawmakers such as Minnesota’s Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.”

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