2019 Sentinel Awards

Event Date:

Wednesday, November 06, 2019
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The 13 honorees for the 2019 Sentinel Awards stand out for their exemplary storylines that inform, educate and motivate television viewers to lead healthier and safer lives.

The 13 Sentinel Awards honorees for 2019 feature storylines that shine a light on a range of health and social topics, including criminal justice, addiction/recovery, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, mental health, and the existential threats of nuclear safety and climate change. 

The annual awards are presented by Hollywood, Health & Society (HH&S), a program of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, which recognizes the profound impact that entertainment has on audiences. In addition to being compelling, thoughtful and fun, these 13 shows stand out for their exemplary storylines that inform, educate and motivate audiences to make choices for healthier and safer lives.

In some cases, there are stories behind the storylines.

The idea for Netflix's When They See Us, filmmaker Ava DuVernay's exploration of racism, racial politics and the U.S. criminal justice system, began with a tweet sent to her from Raymond Santana, originally one of the young boys known as the Central Park 5 who were wrongfully accused and convicted of the 1989 rape and assault of a woman jogger. Santana, who was 14 when he was arrested, served five years in a juvenile detention center in New York. (Besides Santana, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray and Korey Wise all served terms in prison and youth correctional facilities before finally being exonerated.) In 2015, he tweeted DuVernay after watching Selma, her 2014 biopic about Martin Luther King Jr., suggesting that her next project be about #thecentralparkfive. 

Chernobyl, a five-part HBO miniseries, looks at the "heroes and villains" involved in the worst nuclear disaster in history, which occurred in 1986 in the small "atomgrad" (atomic city) of Pripyat in northern Ukraine, then a part of the Soviet Union.

The Resident episode ("If Not Now, When?") that's getting an award for its portrayal of systemic racism and childbirth was inspired by the story of Charles Johnson and his wife, Kira, who died in 2016 from internal bleeding following a routine, planned C-section at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Initially, two writers with the FOX show came up with the idea after watching a taped clip of Charles Johnson telling his wife's story to Congress and testifying about the critical need to improve maternal health in the U.S.

Sentinel entries were submitted from broadcast networks, cable channels and streaming services. All eligible submissions were reviewed for accuracy by experts from HH&S’ partner organizations; a second round of judging looked at the entertainment value and potential benefit to the viewing audience. 

“TV is often blamed for many of society’s ills,” said Kate Langrall Folb, director of HH&S, after the 13 honorees were announced. “But we see how many writers, producers, networks and studios genuinely care about their audiences and take the time to get it right.” 

The finalists will be recognized at a red-carpet event on Wednesday, Nov. 6 at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood. 

The 2019 Sentinel Awards honorees: 

Chernobyl (HBO)
Topic: Nuclear safety

Euphoria (HBO)
Made You Look
Topic: Addiction/recovery

The Bold Type (Freeform)
The Deep End
Topic: Abortion

Mom (CBS)
Jell-O Shots and the Truth About Santa
Topic: Addiction/recovery

Grace and Frankie (Netflix)
The Crosswalk
Topic: Older adults/aging

Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
Silent All These Years
Topic: Sexual assault

Alexa & Katie (Netflix)
The Ghost of Cancer Past
Topic: Cancer

Madam Secretary (CBS)
The New Normal
Topic: Climate change

When They See Us (Netflix)
Part Three
Topic: Criminal justice

Empire (FOX)
The Depth of Grief

The Resident (FOX)
If Not Now, When?
Topic: Maternal health

One Day at a Time (Netflix)
Topic: Mental health

This Is Us (NBC)
Topic: Mental health