A Last Pre-Emmy Glances
The Television Critics Nominations
As I mentioned in an article last year, I learned far too late that there was yet another award recognizing the best in television: the Television Critics Awards. I was flattened to realize they’d existed for thirty-five years before, and much like Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap, they had spent that time putting right what so often the Emmys does wrong, and recognizing some of the greatest series in TV history. A partial glimpse of their past winners include Sports Night, Homicide, The Good Wife, and most recently, The Americans (three times!). They’ve also recognized some actors the Emmys kept ignoring, such as Michael C. Hall, Ian McShane and Rachel Bloom. Not bad for an institution that only has one category for nominated actors in both comedy and drama.
So this year, I decided to try and take a look at the Critics Awards before the Emmy Nods came out to see if they’d give additional clarity. Imagine my joy when I went to their website, and learned what should have been obvious: they give out nominations before they choose their awards.
Obviously, I will be spending the next few weeks trying to track down their nomination process and see what other great series and actors they consider. But for now, I’m going to focus on the series and actors they chose to nominate in the major categories for this year. And unlike the Emmys, I actually like most of the nominees
INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT IN DRAMA
Should I be angry that actors in Limited Series are competing against actors in dramas? Should I be angry that both actors and actresses are competing in all categories? Perhaps. But when the talent includes Amy Adams, Patricia Arquette, and Christine Baranski for the Limited series, and Jodie Comer, Billy Porter and Christine Baranski for the other, can one really quibble? I might argue that if they separated for Limited series, they might find room for Sam Rockwell, Benicio Del Toro and Bob Odenkirk, but Hell. I think I’ll give them discretion. Considering that all of these actors will be in the forefront of the categories, I can’t complain.
INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT IN COMEDY
Apart from the ubiquitous presence of Julia-Louis Dreyfus — she’s won quite enough awards in the past decade, thank you — everyone else is a good choice. Bill Hader and Pamela Adlon are both superb, and having seen the first couple of episodes of Russian Doll, I’m inclined to give Natasha Lyonne a green light. Phoebe Waller-Bridge has spent the last couple of years becoming a force in British television, so its fitting she gets a nod for her last chance for Fleabag. Would I have liked to see Eugene Levy nominated? But Catherine O’Hara’s a national treasure. Would be nice to have seen Jim Carrey or Issa Rae, but these are good choices.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN MOVIE OR MINISERIES
No one can argue with Chernobyl, Deadwood: The Movie, Escape at Dannemora, Fosse/Verdon or Sharp Objects. Certainly not me. I’m not as certain about When They See Us — I’d have preferred to see maybe A Very English Scandal — but this is a good group, and a fine measure of the great limited series that came this year.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN DRAMA
The critical difference. No Game of Thrones. And this is an organization that recognized in the past. Better Call Saul, Killing Eve, The Good Fight, Homecoming and Pose are all superb examples of what television is capable of, and all have excellent chances to be in the fight. I’m a little less certain about Succession, but the buzz for it has been building over the last year. All in all, this is a good bunch.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN COMEDY
And they’re willing to go to seven nominations. Well done. Barry, The Good Place, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Fleabag are all worthy. I’m inclined to give a similar pass to Russian Doll after I see a few more episodes. Schitt’s Creek has more than earned its spot here. I’m a little mixed on Veep’s presence, but given how exceptional the finale was, it would have been hard to ignore it.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN SKETCH/VARIERTY SHOWS
What do you know? Some variety! Stephen Colbert and John Oliver are here. But so is Samantha Bee. And Seth Meyers (yeah!) And Desus and Mero (double yeah!) I don’t know if “I Think You Should Leave” is as good as say, Random Acts of Flyness or Tracey Ullman, but then again, HBO has enough recognition already.
I’ll pass on Outstanding New Program because I didn’t actually see most of them.
PROGRAM OF THE YEAR
Here’s my only real nit to pick. If Game of Thrones isn’t good enough to be considering the Outstanding Drama of the year, why is it okay for Program of the Year? This may be the only real category where the Critics seem to be considering that this might be a popularity contest. Which is odd, because none of the other nominees — Chernobyl, Fleabag, Russian Doll, Pose, and When They See Us — fit in that kind of way. And they all have multiple nominations. Game of Thrones does not. I don’t think the Critics will pick this way — but I think by putting it here, they are hedging their bets. And that’s unfortunate. You’re critics, not the People’s Choice Awards.
All in all, though, the nominations here make be proud to be in the profession I’m in. I guess its true what they say about great minds. I’ll try and check the Peabodys later.