US actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II wins his first Emmy award

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II dedicated his award to all the black women in his life. (AFP)
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Updated 21 September 2020

US actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II wins his first Emmy award

DUBAI: US actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II won his first Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, for his role in HBO’s ‘Watchmen,’ this week.

“Oh, man. Thank you so much to the Academy. I’m so excited right now,” the 34-year-old actor, who was born to a Muslim father, said as he accepted his award. 

Set in the alternate history laid out in the acclaimed graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore (but years on from the events of the source material, and with different characters), Damon Lindelof’s show was complex, layered, sometimes confusing, but ultimately rewarding.

Like Lindelof’s first hit, “Lost,” viewers were often required to bend their minds around some pretty major leaps of logic to follow this tale of masked police officers tackling masked vigilantes who are treated as outlaws. Along the way, the provocative show also made some intense observations about race relations.

During his speech, Abdul-Mateen II explained how he sees the film.

“‘Watchmen’ was a story about trauma. It was a story about the lasting scars of white domestic terrorism,” he said. 

“It was a story about police corruption and brutality, but in the midst of all that, it was also a story about a god who came down to Earth to reciprocate, to a Black woman, all the love she deserved. He did all that in the body of a Black man, and I’m so proud that I was able to walk into those shoes. So, I dedicate this award to all of the Black women in my life,” Abdul-Mateen II added. 


REVIEW: US remake of ‘Utopia’ comes up short

The cast of 'Utopia' (Amazon)
Updated 22 October 2020

REVIEW: US remake of ‘Utopia’ comes up short

  • Lavish conspiracy drama misses the spark of the UK original

LONDON: Adapting a UK show for US (and, thanks to the reach of streaming platforms, international) audiences is a risky proposition. There have been far more misses than hits, with the British style of programming often proving difficult to recreate with anything other than the original cast, setting and tone.

It’s even more of a surprise that a US remake of “Utopia” was green-lit when you consider that the original 2013 UK run, though now regarded as something of a cult hit, was a divisive mix of graphic violence, head-spinning conspiratorial doublespeak and terrifyingly brilliant dystopian foreshadowing. Indeed, the original incarnation of the show was cancelled after just 12 episodes.

So how does the US version stack up? The premise is largely the same. A group of online friends, obsessed with the idea that a mysterious comic book has been predicting the world’s catastrophes, meet in real life when word leaks out of a newly discovered second volume. The misfits, each with their own distinctive foibles, find themselves on the run from a sinister organization that is hellbent on getting the book back. The only person they can turn to is the enigmatic Jessica Hyde, the ‘star’ of the comic book’s first volume.

In many ways, the US version simply transplants the action, characters and plot from the original, albeit it with the high-gloss buffing of modern TV production dollars. Sadly, in most cases, the 2020 version doesn’t fare well – Sasha Lane’s Jessica Hyde and Christopher Denham’s Arby, for example, lack the charisma of Fiona O’Shaughnessy or the horrifying blankness of Neil Maskell from the UK show.

Sasha Lane as Jessica Hyde in 'Utopia.' (Amazon)

There are some nice nods to the more modern setting – not to mention horribly unfortunate relevance, given the current global pandemic – and some big names making up the supporting cast (John Cusack and Rainn Wilson), but more often that not, the 2020 show lacks the claustrophobic menace that pervaded the UK original.

“Utopia” is still an enjoyably uncomfortable watch, and is (at times) still chillingly sinister. Those who missed the UK original might find something here, but those who caught the show first time round may feel a little underwhelmed.