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'Fleabag' is big winner, Milch is honored at Television Critics Association awards

If you are a regular reader of this column, you know I’m a big fan of “Fleabag,” the British comedy carried on Amazon Prime.

Whenever I’m asked what program to recommend, “Fleabag” is near the top of the list.

In a column last month, the second season of “Fleabag” was high on my list of nine programs to binge watch on a rainy day.

The series stars Phoebe Waller-Bridge as the appealing but odd title character and is based on her one-woman show.

I enjoyed the second season much more than the first one, primarily because I laughed more often at Fleabag’s comic attempts to satisfy her rigid sister and convince her that her husband was a jerk.

Academy Award winning actress Olivia Colman also is on board, playing the woman planning to marry Fleabag’s widowed father. And then there is Andrew Scott, who plays a handsome priest who could be Fleabag’s next bad relationship decision. I won’t say more other than to say Scott reminds me of Charles Grodin.

There are only six 25-minute episodes in the season, so you can watch it during one rainy afternoon.

I am not alone in the critic fraternity in loving “Fleabag.” At the annual Television Critics Association Awards ceremony Saturday night in the Beverly Hilton hotel in California, Fleabag” earned three awards – program of the year, outstanding achievement in comedy and individual achievement in comedy for Waller-Bridge.

Some people who pay an annual fee to have packages delivered by Amazon Prime don’t realize it entitles them to stream all Amazon programs for free. If you are one of those people, I suggest you stream “Fleabag” as soon as possible.

The TCA, of which I am one of more than 200 professional critics from the United States and Canada, also awarded programs in several other categories. Here is the list of winners, which overwhelmingly went the way I preferred.

  • Individual Achievement in Drama: Michelle Williams "Fosse/Verdon" (FX)
  • Individual Achievement in Comedy: Phoebe Waller-Bridge "Fleabag" (Amazon)
  • Outstanding Achievement in News and Information: "Leaving Neverland" (HBO)
  • Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming: "Queer Eye" (Netflix)
  • Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming: "Arthur" (PBS Kids)
  • Outstanding Achievement in Sketch/Variety Shows: "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver" (HBO)
  • Outstanding New Program: "Russian Doll" (Netflix)
  • Outstanding Achievement in Movie or Miniseries: "Chernobyl" (HBO)
  • Outstanding Achievement in Drama: "Better Call Saul" (AMC)
  • Outstanding Achievement in Comedy: "Fleabag" (Amazon)
  • Program of the Year: "Fleabag" (Amazon)
  • Lifetime Achievement Honoree: David Milch
  • Heritage Award: "Deadwood" (HBO)

 I was unable to attend, but was able to enlist David Milch’s brother, Dr. Robert Milch, to act as my correspondent.

David Milch was honored with Career Achievement Award from critics. (Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

Robert Milch – who has earned multiple awards for his work as a physician, was the first medical director of Hospice Buffalo and is internationally recognized as a leader in palliative care – sent me a copy of his brother’s prepared remarks after being honored.

Here they are:

I’m particularly gratified to be recognized by the Television Critics Association. 

The dirty secret is that we care deeply what critics think. Hence, this honor is very special, and thank you all for it. 

Each show becomes a living, breathing entity, and the community each creates is part of the joy of our medium. 

‘Deadwood’ felt magical for the whole ride – what a gift to work with artists who brought their A game. We were able to inhabit a world, on screen and off, that was filled with a sense of community, purpose, appreciation and love. That is a rare gift. 

To (former and present HBO executives) Richard Piepler, Len Amato, Carolyn Strauss, producer-director Gregg Feinberg, our directors and the whole cast and crew, I want to express my loving respect and gratitude. 

As Faulkner said, ‘The past is not dead. It’s not even past."

If it isn’t always at play in the present – the past, I mean – it at least is doing pushups in the parking lot. How we come to terms with it, collectively and individually, is each soul’s unfolding story. 

I hope I’ve learned something over the years, maybe gotten better – as a storyteller and as a person.

Thank you all so much. Heartfelt thanks for walking with me on my journey. Here’s hoping I’ve a few more stories to tell along the way.

At the end of his speech, Milch received a standing ovation that lasted more than a minute.

"Very touching," his brother wrote.


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