DGA Awards for TV Settle the Succession Direction Question

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards returned in full force on Saturday night, with an in-person fête held at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. The annual awards ceremony, where the DGA recognizes the best film and television directorial efforts of the prior year, had to be held virtually in 2021, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were still in full effect.

But this year’s ceremony looked much more like festivities of old. Director Judd Apatow was tapped for hosting duty, having previously had the honor in 2018 and 2020, and more than 800 people were on hand to celebrate the entertainment mediums they cherished.

On the television side, winners were unsurprising, but not undeserved, and most importantly settled the “Succession” direction question. More on that later.

Among the big three TV prizes — for directing in comedy, drama, and limited series, respectively — the DGA voting body both confirmed and clarified a lot of information that it was already safe to assume.

For comedy series, Lucia Aniello was again victorious for her directing efforts on the pilot of HBO Max’s “Hacks,” titled, “There Is No Line.” It was Aniello’s first ever DGA Award nomination, but not the first accolade she’s received for her work, directing and otherwise, on the series. She took home two Emmy Awards during the September celebration, one, perhaps unsurprisingly, for directing and the other for writing, shared with fellow “Hacks” creators Jen Statsky and Paul W. Downs.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Aniello’s win comes in relation to the awards landscape in coming months. Facing off against the director in the comedy category were three directors from the Apple TV+ hit “Ted Lasso,” namely MJ Delaney, Erica Dunton, and Sam Jones, plus Mike White for HBO’s “The White Lotus.” While her Emmy win more than speaks to the esteem her fellow directors hold her in, there remains a question about the award submission choices of “Ted Lasso.”

Last year at the Emmys, “Ted Lasso” won comedy series, but was bested by “Hacks” in both the writing and directing categories. One of the most obvious differences between how each show played the submission game can be seen in the nominations themselves. The soccer series had two nominations in the comedy writing category at the Emmy Awards and three nominations in comedy directing. “Hacks,” on the other hand, put all their money on their pilot episode, the show’s single submission for each category.

That’s not to say that “Hacks” only won because “Ted Lasso” split its own vote with multiple nominations, but it’s something to keep an eye on all the same.

Barry Jenkins

Michael Buckner for Variety

For the limited series category, or as the DGA Awards have titled the category, “Miniseries or TV Film,” it was Barry Jenkins who went home with the prize for his work directing the whole of Amazon Prime Video’s “The Underground Railroad.” The Oscar-winning director, previously nominated for directing “Moonlight,” was edged out at the Emmy Awards for limited series directing by Scott Frank, director of Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit.”

Jenkins’ win highlights the always curious case of the atypical Emmy calendar. Because the Television Academy opts for its eligibility period to run from June 1 to May 31, the most prestigious awards in TV spur a strange alternate universe at every other TV awards event. Scott Frank, 2021 DGA Award winner and Barry Jenkins, 2022 DGA Award winner, went head to head at the 2021 Emmy Awards, with Frank landing on top. One could bemoan that such a match-up had to take place at all — and I have — but ultimately time is just a big game of Boggle and the dice will settle as they see fit. (Did you know Daylight Savings Time started? I did. Now.)

Finally, the drama series category was perhaps the most and least surprising of the ceremony’s TV awards. All five nominees in the category were from HBO’s “Succession.” The victor in the Roy family battle royale was Mark Mylod for his directing on the show’s Season 3 finale, “All the Bells Say.”

This was Mylod’s second DGA Award nomination, his first coming in the same category for the Season 2 finale of “Succession,” “This Is Not For Tears.” That year, the director was beaten out in the category by Nicole Kassell for an episode of HBO’s “Watchmen,” which would end up competing as a limited series and not a drama series when the Emmy Awards rolled around.

At this juncture, Mylod is top of the pops as far as the DGA goes. And that’s all we can really know as we ice begins to thaw, signifying the imminent return of Emmy season.

Other TV winners for the evening included Don Roy King who won his sixth consecutive award in the variety series category for his work on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” this year for the Keegan-Michael Key and Olivia Rodrigo episode; Paul Dugdale who was victorious in variety special for the CBS event, “Adele: One Night Only”; Adam Vetri who triumphed in reality program for the “Electric Shot” episode of Discovery’s “Getaway Driver; and Smriti Mundhra who won the children’s programming award for the “Shelter” episode of HBO Max’s “Through Our Eyes.”

A full list of the DGA Award winners can be found here.

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