Pretty much the last thing the world needs is another entertainment awards show, right? That’s not what the Broadcast Film Critics Association, which presents the Critics Choice Movie Awards, thinks. They’ve created a parallel organization, the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, with its own Critics Choice Television Awards, and announced their very first batch of nominations today.
Obviously such a move is an attempt to exert some influence over notoriously fickle Emmy voters. “[C]ritics and entertainment journalists provide an important service when we precede the Emmy or Oscar voting with our picks,” the BFCA wrote in an email to members. “After all… we are the ones who monitor the works all year long and are best situated to consider their relative merits during ‘awards season.’” And it’s a strategy that seems to work: since the Critics Choice Movie Awards started in 1995 they’ve been one of the most consistently reliable predictors of the Oscar race. It’s not a stretch to imagine that undecided Oscar voters, hoping to appear in tune with critical opinion, might look to the CCAs as a clear, easy-to-follow guide to what “the critics” think should win.
Of course, BTJA members aren’t exactly what you’d call a broad sample, given that there’s only about 50 of them (it’s possible their list of nominees is actually whiter than the typical Emmy field, if you can believe it). And this list of charter members is frankly a bit of a head scratcher. On the other hand, TV critics are far more likely to have watched all the shows they’re voting on than members of the Television Academy, who are often too busy actually making television to watch much of it.
The inaugural nominations were announced this morning—not-so-coincidentally on the same day Emmy ballots are being released—and I have to say, it looks like they kind of got it right. Oh sure, there are a few inclusions that make me roll my eyes a bit, but there aren’t many egregious omissions. And they’ve managed to spread the love around, recognizing a lot of Emmy underdogs like Friday Night Lights, Justified, Community and Parks and Recreation. By opening up the big categories to more nominees and cutting back on the number of overall categories (eliminating awards for things like writing, directing, mini-series, variety, etc.), they’ve managed to shine a brighter light on a greater number of deserving shows.
Let’s take a look at the nominees:
Best Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire – HBO
Dexter – Showtime
Friday Night Lights – DirecTV
Fringe – FOX
Game of Thrones – HBO
The Good Wife – CBS
Justified – FX
The Killing – AMC
Mad Men – AMC
The Walking Dead – AMC
It’s hard to get upset about this category because it’s got a little something for everyone. I mean, just look at all those genre shows! And Friday Night Lights! You could argue that Treme ought to be on here, but I’m not inclined to make a huge fuss over it.
Best Actor in a Drama Series
Steve Buscemi – Boardwalk Empire – HBO
Kyle Chandler – Friday Night Lights – DirecTV
Michael C. Hall – Dexter – Showtime
Jon Hamm – Mad Men – AMC
William H. Macy – Shameless – Showtime
Timothy Olyphant – Justified – FX
Maybe Bryan Cranston should be on there, but he’s already got his Emmy; he’s going to be just fine. And maybe in almost any other year I’d argue that Hugh Laurie should be there, too. But this year? It’s hard to make a serious case that House deserves any awards anymore.
Best Actress in a Drama Series
Connie Britton – Friday Night Lights – DirecTV
Mireille Enos – The Killing – AMC
Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife – CBS
Elisabeth Moss – Mad Men – AMC
Katey Sagal – Sons of Anarchy – FX
Anna Torv – Fringe – FOX
Connie Britton! Elisabeth Moss! Anna Torv! These are all good things. And the most obvious snubs in this category tend towards people I’m tired of seeing on Emmy night anyway, like Kyra Sedgwick and Mariska Hargitay, or people I consider deservedly ignored, like January Jones.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Alan Cumming – The Good Wife – CBS
Walton Goggins – Justified – FX
Shawn Hatosy – Southland – TNT
John Noble – Fringe – FOX
Michael Pitt – Boardwalk Empire – HBO
John Slattery – Mad Men – AMC
John Noble deserves all the awards ever, so this is a good start. And Walton Goggins is a worthy (and pleasantly surprising) choice. I’d love to have seen Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) or Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights) on here, but I’m still pretty happy.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Michelle Forbes – The Killing – AMC
Christina Hendricks – Mad Men – AMC
Margo Martindale – Justified – FX
Kelly Macdonald – Boardwalk Empire – HBO
Archie Panjabi – The Good Wife – CBS
Chloe Sevigny – Big Love – HBO
Maybe Southland’s Regina King deserves to be up there? Or The Good Wife’s Christine Baranski? But overall it’s not a bad list, right?
Best Comedy Series
Archer – FX
The Big Bang Theory – CBS
Community – NBC
Glee – FOX
Louie – FX
The Middle – ABC
Modern Family – ABC
The Office – NBC
Parks and Recreation – NBC
30 Rock – NBC
The inclusion of Archer is simply inspired. It’s also great (though hardly surprising) to see critical darling Community on here, as well as Parks and Recreation, which is coming off a terrific season. I’m missing Raising Hope and Cougar Town something awful, though, and it’d be nice to see some of the more mundane fare (The Big Bang Theory, The Middle) ousted in favor of some of the sharper, darker comedies on Showtime (Nurse Jackie, The Big C, or even Episodes). Overall, I think this one of the weakest categories.
Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin – 30 Rock – NBC
Steve Carell – The Office – NBC
Louis C.K. – Louie – FX
Charlie Day – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – FX
Joel McHale – Community – NBC
Jim Parsons – The Big Bang Theory – CBS
As far as I’m concerned, this category is a bit of a yawner because so much of the really great comedy talent (with a few exceptions) ends up duking it out in the supporting categories. Alec Baldwin and Steve Carell are no-brainers, but it’s great to see Louis C.K., Charlie Day and Joel McHale included for once. I know the Glee people are going to bitch and moan about Matthew Morrison, but I don’t think his butt chin belongs anywhere near this list.
Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Courteney Cox – Cougar Town – ABC
Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie – Showtime
Tina Fey – 30 Rock – NBC
Patricia Heaton – The Middle – ABC
Martha Plimpton – Raising Hope – FOX
Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation – NBC
With the exception of Patricia Heaton (who should obviously be replaced by The Big C’s Laura Linney) this is an outstanding representation of the field. And it manages to show a little love to some shows that were left off the best comedy slate (Nurse Jackie, Cougar Town, Raising Hope). Which, in turn, highlights just how many female-driven comedies were snubbed in the best comedy category. What’s the matter, women can’t anchor a funny show?
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell – Modern Family – ABC
Neil Patrick Harris – How I Met Your Mother – CBS
Nick Offerman – Parks and Recreation – NBC
Ed O’Neill – Modern Family – ABC
Danny Pudi – Community – NBC
Eric Stonestreet – Modern Family – ABC
The fantastic-in-everything-he-does Garrett Dillahunt (Raising Hope) is definitely an oversight, as is Community’s Donald Glover, who may actually be the funniest man on television right now. On the other hand, they did see fit to recognize the amazing Danny Pudi and Nick Offerman, so who am I to complain?
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Julie Bowen – Modern Family – ABC
Jane Krakowski – 30 Rock – NBC
Jane Lynch – Glee – FOX
Busy Philipps – Cougar Town – ABC
Eden Sher – The Middle – ABC
Sofia Vergara – Modern Family – ABC
Why Jane Krakowski is on this list boggles the mind. If you replaced her with Community’s Allison Brie I think you’d have a pretty good field. Honestly, though, we need more great roles for funny women on television.
The rest of the categories are all about reality TV, and since I don’t tend to watch much reality TV I’m just going to present them without comment:
Best Reality Series
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition – ABC
Hoarders – A&E
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills – Bravo
Sister Wives – TLC
Undercover Boss – CBS
Best Reality Series – Competition
The Amazing Race – CBS
American Idol – FOX
Dancing with the Stars – ABC
Project Runway – Lifetime
RuPaul’s Drag Race – Logo
Top Chef – Bravo
Best Reality Show Host
Tom Bergeron – Dancing with the Stars – ABC
Cat Deeley – So You Think You Can Dance – FOX
Ty Pennington – Extreme Makeover: Home Edition – ABC
Mike Rowe – Dirty Jobs – Discovery
Ryan Seacrest – American Idol – FOX
Best Talk Show
Chelsea Lately – E!
The Daily Show – Comedy Central
The Ellen DeGeneres Show – Warner Bros.
Jimmy Kimmel Live! – ABC
The Oprah Winfrey Show – Harpo
The Critics Choice Television Awards will be presented on June 20 in a ceremony that will be streamed live on VH1.com and will air two days later on ReelzChannel at 8/7c. Funnily enough, the Emmy ballots are due on June 24. Well played, BTJA. Well played.