Predicting the 2023 NAACP Image Awards – TV Drama Awards

Logo Credit: NAACP Image Awards

Let’s get into the TV Drama categories, which are always a bit more fun for me.

Outstanding Drama Series

  1. Bel-Air
  2. Bridgerton
  3. Euphoria
  4. P-Valley
  5. Queen Sugar

Should Win: P-Valley
Will Win: Queen Sugar
Should Have Been Nominated: Reasonable Doubt/All American

This is a strong category, though I’d have swapped in either Reasonable Doubt or All American for Euphoria, a buzzy, popular mean-spirited bore of a show. Four of these shows are in the current zeitgeist and drove a lot of conversation and one of them – Queen Sugar – has been one of – if not THE – best black television shows for its entire run. Queen Sugar has won twice before and I think it could win again, but I think P-Valley is the one to beat this year.

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series

  1. Damson Idris – Snowfall
  2. Jabari Banks – Bel-Air 
  3. Kofi Siriboe – Queen Sugar
  4. Nicco Annan – P-Valley
  5. Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us

Should Win: Nicco Annan
Will Win: Sterling K. Brown
Should Have Been Nominated: Daniel Ezra and Jacob Anderson

This category has had an embarrassment of riches for the last decade or so, as drama has been the place where black TV has really excelled. There are truly just a ton of really great Black dramatic actors and actresses. All five of these men are incredible and yet I look at this list and I’m not sure how in the world Jacob Anderson as Louis on the fantastic Interview with the Vampire isn’t here. He gave hands down the best dramatic performance last year. I’ve extolled the virtues of Daniel Ezra of All American for years and it galls me that the Image Awards made room for Damson Idris and not him. But Snowfall is coming off it’s strongest season and Damson himself is in the cultural conversation in a big way that Daniel just is not as a more low-key figure. That said, of the nominees I’d give this to Nicco. But I think Sterling walks away with this for the third time since This Is Us has been on the air (though don’t be surprised if Damson gets it).

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series

  1. Angela Bassett – 9-1-1
  2. Brandee Evans – P-Valley
  3. Queen Latifah – The Equalizer
  4. Rutina Wesley – Queen Sugar
  5. Zendaya – Euphoria

Should Win: Brandee Evans
Will Win: Angela Bassett
Should Have Been Nominated: Patina Miller / Chante Adams

Angela Bassett is a legend, but she really shouldn’t be here. 911 is a fun show, but it’s not really an acting showcase and Bassett could sleepwalk her way through it and be just fine. Her nomination should have gone to Chante Adams or Patina Miller for being the best thing in their respective shows. I think Angela will win for the third time in this role, but this award belongs to Brandee Evans who is the heart and soul of P-Valley and brings tremendous gravitas to the role.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

  1. Adrian Holmes – Bel-Air
  2. Amin Joseph – Snowfall
  3. Caleb McLaughlin – Stranger Things
  4. Cliff “Method Man” Smith – Power Book II: Ghost
  5. J. Alphonse Nicholson – P-Valley (Starz)

Should Win: J. Alphonse Nicholson
Will Win: Method Man
Should Have Been Nominated: Olly Sholatan / Taye Diggs / Woody McClain

A fine category with terrific performers. It’s really nice to see Caleb here as he did some terrific work with a much better written Lucas Sinclair in the most recent season of Stranger Things. Ditto the great Adrian Holmes, who brings a dark sexiness to new Uncle Phil. I wish there had been room for Olly Sholatan as the new Carlton on Bel Air – a real find – and Taye Diggs who is doing career-best work on All American. Or Woody McClain, who is the best of the younger actors of Power II. But in all fairness, Cliff is going to win again. He won the last two years in a row. And he’s great. For my money, though, the work of J. Alphonse Nicholson as Lil Murda is the one to beat. His was the most gripping dramatic television performance of 2022.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

  1. Adjoa Andoh – Bridgerton
  2. Bianca Lawson – Queen Sugar
  3. Loretta Devine – P-Valley
  4. Susan Kelechi Watson – This Is Us
  5. Tina Lifford – Queen Sugar

Should Win: Bianca Lawson
Will Win: Loretta Devine
Should Have Been Nominated: n/a

This is a pretty good category. I’d be happy with any of these ladies winning. Susan Kelechi Watson should have had two or three of these already, as should Tina Lifford. I could see either of them finally winning this year, but I don’t think it’s wise to bet on Loretta Devine, a legendary and beloved actress who is doing fine character work on P-Valley. For me though, I’d give it to Bianca Lawson who has quietly been a real force on Queen Sugar and really stepped into her own in the final season.

Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series

  • Debbie Allen – “Robyn” (The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey)
  • Giancarlo Esposito – “Axe and Grind” (Better Call Saul)
  • Gina Prince-Bythewood – “Mother and Son” (Women of the Movement)
  • Hanelle Culpepper – “Sensia” (The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey)
  • Kasi Lemmons – “The Last Word” (Women of the Movement)

Should Win: none
Will Win: Debbie Allen
Should Have Been Nominated: Ava
Duvernay / Millicent Shelton

These nominees are bizarre. All of them are for shows that were nominated for Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special so they should be nominated there. So this means that there wasn’t room for Ava’s return for the Queen Sugar series finale (or any of the women directors of that show) or Millicent Shelton’s direction of “Death Drop” on P-Valley. Or, shit, any of the directing on the Power shows, which are superbly directed. In fact, Queen Sugar‘s direction has only earned one previous nomination despite being far and away the best directed and looking drama on television. Just fuckin bizarre, man! None of these should win because they are in the wrong category. But my guess is that Debbie Allen wins.

Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series

  • Aurin Squire – The Good Fight – “The End of Football” (The Good Fight)
  • Branden Jacobs-Jenkins – “Dana” (Kindred)
  • Davita Scarlett – “The End of Eli Gold” (The Good Fight)
  • Joshua Allen – “Bread and Brine” (From Scratch)
  • Marissa Jo Cerar – “Mother and Son” (Women of the Movement)

Should Win: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Will Win: Marissa Jo Cerar
Should Have Been Nominated: Ava
Duvernay / Millicent Shelton

Another bizarre list of nominees. I’m not even sure how Kindred snuck in here since it just premiered (what is the cutoff dates for these awards?!?!) It is criminal that the writers of P-Valley’s “Savage” (Nicole Jefferson Asher and Katori Hall) and “Demethrius” (Jocelyn Clarke, Patrik-Ian Polk, and Katori Hall) were not nominated despite the tremendous skill displayed and the impact each episode had on the culture (both episodes feature the best dramatic arc of the season heavily – the doomed romance between Big Teak and Lil Murda). Honestly, I’d probably give this one to Branden for degree of difficulty in translating a novel into a television series. But I think Marissa wins because of the importance of her show’s subject matter. But meh…what a terrible list of nominees.

Other 2023 Image Awards Predictions:

About tlewisisdope

I write. I live in DC.
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