SAG Awards review: An ad-free show on Netflix YouTube hits all the right notes

So after just watching the SAG Awards on Sunday night, my first thought is, “Television is way overrated. Let’s put every awards show on livestream.” Seeing as how it worked out with the ceremony running on Netflix’s YouTube Channel, I’m thinking this should be made a permanent arrangement. I mean, I know that after Netflix signed a multiyear partnership last month with SAG-AFTRA to showcase the Screen Actors Guild Awards on the streaming platform itself beginning in 2024 after a quarter-century on TBS and TNT, there was fear this could mark the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it.

Clearly, the trepidation was entirely unjustified. Let’s just say I’m relieved this ceremony will remain in Netflix’s hands for the foreseeable future.

I can’t remember the last time I watched such a joyous, smooth, relaxed, celebratory awards show from beginning to end, with nearly no glitches. (Well, except for Mark Wahlberg reading Sarah Polley’s film as being called “Women Are Talking.” Whoops.) The whole thing was so heartfelt that it was easy to get caught up in the raw emotion of the night, which felt like a coming-out party for the Asian American acting community after so many decades of being minimized, discriminated against and shunted off to the side. That was what the four wins for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” – including its ensemble along with individual trophies for Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis – appeared to represent.

No, Curtis isn’t Asian. But as the legendary veteran character actor James Hong noted at the conclusion of the ceremony on Sunday, “Lee is a very Chinese name.”

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you put on an awards show:

  • You allow every winner to speak until they’re finished without rudely interrupting what is perhaps the greatest moment of their professional lives by striking up the orchestra to slowly drown them out. There was none of that Sunday night, not a single, solitary instance of it. The show ran about 12 minutes over its allotted two hours, and nobody cared, least of all Netflix’s YouTube Channel, which didn’t have to worry about it screwing up its schedule. Even Jennifer Coolidge was permitted to prattle as long as she pleased without needing to resort to dancing. It was glorious.
  • Every single category featured a clip of each nominee – not a lengthy clip, mind you, but a visual representation of the nominee’s acting skill nonetheless. It showed the kind of respect for the performances that you fail to get at the likes of the Golden Globes, the Critics Choices, even the Oscars.
  • This may be the greatest single thing about the show: NO COMMERCIALS! None. Nada. Zero. Zip. During what would have been the advertising breaks, those putting on the show instead presented some consistently entertaining clip packages of great moments culled from past SAG shows. It gave everyone in attendance an opportunity to stretch their legs without boring the audience watching at home to tears with clusters of ads. This whole ad-free thing could really catch on.
  • They didn’t feel the need to censor every last exuberant utterance of a profane word. In several instances, so-called F-bombs were permitted to be heard without silencing. There you have another advantage of being on streaming: the same puritanical rules don’t apply to language. This came in especially handy when the exquisite Ms. Yeoh – releasing the steam built up over 40 years of being passed over for her industry’s biggest prizes and overcome by the moment – let loose a lusty “Fuck!” in the middle of her lead film actress acceptance. Can you imagine how absurd it would have been to hear nothing come out of her mouth but dead air, as would have been the case had the show run on TBS and TNT?

I’ll grant you that some of the patter between presenters was a little lamely written and grating. But that’s really the only negative I can raise here, aside from Wahlberg’s unfortunate misidentification.

Beyond all of the above, this SAG Awards was fortunate to have been furnished with such a heartwarming, overdue narrative thanks to the “Everything Everywhere All at Once” sweep. It’s safe to say there have rarely, if ever, been more popular victors than Yeoh, Quan and Curtis, each of whose triumphs were greeted with thunderous applause. And then to have Yeoh so graciously bring the 94-year-old Hong over to the mic to so poignantly and irreverently sum everything up during the ensemble cast acceptance finale proved a perfect capper.

The Oscars will be hard pressed to match the spirit and passion – and lack of drag – of this SAG ceremony. A standard of excellence has been set.

PREDICT the 2023 Oscar winners through March 12

Make your predictions at Gold Derby now. Download our free and easy app for Apple/iPhone devices or Android (Google Play) to compete against legions of other fans plus our experts and editors for best prediction accuracy scores. See our latest prediction champs. Can you top our esteemed leaderboards next? Always remember to keep your predictions updated because they impact our latest racetrack odds, which terrify Hollywood chiefs and stars. Don’t miss the fun. Speak up and share your huffy opinions in our famous forums where 5,000 showbiz leaders lurk every day to track latest awards buzz. Everybody wants to know: What do you think? Who do you predict and why?

More News from GoldDerby