The People’s Choice Awards, the annual fan-voted show on CBS, exist in the kind of fantasy world where teen star Chloe Grace Moretz triumphs over Meryl Streep for Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress. That’s always fun, but the show is way more interesting when stars reference real-life incidents.
Like, say, Favorite Actress in a New TV Series winner Viola Davis getting up on stage and calling out Alessandra Stanley’s widely criticized New York Times article about Shonda Rhimes. Last fall, the paper’s television critic received lots of blowback for a story that referred to Shonda Rhimes as “an angry black woman” while discussing the successful slate of ShondaLand dramas. Stanley also drew criticism for her remarks about Davis, the star of “How to Get Away With Murder” (produced by Rhimes) when she wrote that the actress was “older, darker-skinned and less classically beautiful” than Kerry Washington, who stars in Rhimes’s show “Scandal.”
When accepting her trophy on stage, Davis gave a shout out to the fans, and then took a pointed dig at the story while she thanked the executive producers of her series: “Thank you Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers and Peter Nowalk,” Davis said to much applause, “for thinking of a leading lady who looks like my classic beauty.”
Another actress to bring up controversy: “Big Bang Theory” actress Kaley Cuoco, whose quotes about feminism went viral last week when she told Redbook magazine that no, she didn’t consider herself a feminist, and she “was never that feminist girl demanding equality.” Also this one: “I cook for (my husband) Ryan five nights a week – it makes me feel like a housewife. I love that.”
The remarks lit up the blogosphere, and a couple days later, Cuoco felt compelled to release a non-apology about the whole thing. Anyway, Cuoco joked about the drama while on stage with her “Wedding Ringer” co-stars Kevin Hart and Josh Gad as they presented an award.
“Can we just show the nominees, please, for Favorite Comedic Movie Actress?” Cuoco pleaded while Hart and Gad were joking around.
“Ooh now Kaley, are you sure you want to do that category given your anti-feminism stance?” Gad asked.
“Yeah, I have to, it’s part of my apology tour,” Cuoco said, looking faux-seriously into the camera.
So, no, that banter didn’t really make any sense – but kudos to Cuoco for staying topical?
On a much more serious note, Ben Affleck (on hand to pick up a trophy as Favorite Humanitarian for his work with his Eastern Congo Initiative) also took a moment to talk about current events. While Affleck stayed vague, it sounded like he was referencing Wednesday’s horrific attacks in Paris as he brought some gravity to the show during his acceptance speech:
“Sometimes the world, it’s just a scary and terrible place. And bad things happen and they’re hard to understand and they make us feel afraid and helpless. And one thing I learned by watching people better at it and smarter about it and more dedicated than I am is that by trying to do even just a little bit. Whether it’s in another country, or our country, or supporting our troops, or sending $5 over the Internet – you know, the one way to combat the sad things we see, the terrible things that we see, is try to bring a little bit of kindness into the world and to show that our country is about reaching out and helping our fellow man.”
Otherwise, it was the standard People’s Choice Awards: Nearly all presenters and many winners were stars of CBS shows. If a big star was in the audience (Robert Downey Jr., Betty White, Chris Evans) it meant they were winning a prize later in the night. Hosts Anna Faris and Allison Janney, of the network’s comedy “Mom,” were charming and game for embarrassing themselves when necessary. Performances included Lady Antebellum and Iggy Azalea – who incidentally won Favorite Country Group and Favorite Hip-Hop Artist, respectively – and Fall Out Boy.