I Have No Idea Who’ll Win Many of the HCA TV Awards. That’s Part of the Fun.
My Predictions for The HCA TV Awards, Part 1: Comedy
Last month I went into paroxysms of ecstasy when the Hollywood Critics Association gave their second annual nominations for television awards. I was much happier with their nomination then the Emmys the following week, but as you know from reading this column that’s always a low bar to clear. I was far happier with their choices than I had been with the inaugural set of nominees, and those of you who spent weeks reading my columns know how truly joyful I was.
Well, this weekend if you can find it on YouTube, the HCA will be giving its second set of awards this time in front of a live studio audience. And as an acknowledgement of the huge number of awards they will have to give, they are dividing it into two nights. On Saturday, they will cover broadcast and cable awards; on Sunday, they will cover all streaming awards. So once again, I think it my solemn duty to try and predict what awards they will give.
I could attempt to divide my predictions the same way the HCA will, and do one group for broadcast and cable and the other for streaming. But because I have fundamentally spent my career as a critic categorizing these by their title, I shall do so the same way I would for the Emmys or the HCA: Comedy, Drama, and Limited Series. As always, I shall divide my predictions based on what I hope will win and what I think will actually win — bearing in mind that the first time out, the HCA was far more willing to honor the former than the latter. Will they do so again with a more ‘traditional’ group of nominees? We shall see. Once again, with a couple of exceptions in the dramas and streaming limited series, there are no bad choices here.
I shall start with Comedy
OUTSTANDING BROADCAST COMEDY SERIES
Keeping in mind that last year the HCA chose not to honor the most nominated series (also the one that won the most awards in the comedy category) I think the choice is a fairly obvious one. While I’ll confess a certain sentiment for The Wonder Years (and perhaps the Peabody is a sign that it will prevail) I think no one can dispute the inevitable winner. Abbott Elementary is one of the best series of 2022 on any platform. It is entertaining, hopeful and gloriously funny. It is one of the best comedy series to debut on network TV since The Good Place, and the question is how many awards it will win.
Should Win/Will Win: Abbott Elementary
OUTSTANDING CABLE COMEDY SERIES
This one’s a bit trickier. Resident Alien managed an upset last year, so it could pull it off again. I think given the level of the competition it’s unlikely to repeat. I think it will come down to three very different comedy series.
What We Do in the Shadows could prevail if the HCA wants to go as far and recognize pure zaniness. Atlanta, which was inexplicably mostly ignored by the Emmys, could come through if they want to acknowledge its surreal cleverness. Barry could prevail if they want to recognize a perfect blend of satire and the darkest drama imaginable. My preference is marginally for Barry and the fact that it got slightly more nominations might be enough. That said, I think Atlanta is the dark horse here.
Should Win: Barry.
Will Win: Atlanta/Barry.
OUTSTANDING STREAMING COMEDY SERIES
This comes down to a battle between three of the most incredible comedy series of the last season. Ted Lasso has the early momentum from the Critics Choice and the SAG awards. Hacks has been picking up steam ever since it debuted two months ago. Only Murders in the Building is the sensation. (I’ll confess part of me wouldn’t mind if Reservation Dogs upset them all.)
I’m going to give the barest of edges to Ted Lasso partly because it is likely to repeat, but I still think there’s a good chance this is where Only Murders Will finally comes through.
Should Win: Only Murders in the Building.
Will Win: Ted Lasso.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY, BROADCAST OR CABLE
This comes down to two choices, Donald Glover for Atlanta or Bill Hader for Barry. And because Glover’s presence in the third season was so reduced, I see Hader winning this in a walk. Could his SNL co-star Andy Samberg prevail in an upset for his final season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine? Could the HCA do what the Emmys never win and give a trophy to Anthony Anderson? They could, but in all honesty so far in 2022, few actors have given a more wrenching or mesmerizing work as Hader as he went through one of the most agonizing journeys all season. Hader is the early favorite for his third Emmy in three seasons; I really don’t see anything stopping him here.
Should Win/Will Win: Hader.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY, STREAMING
The default would be to see Sudeikis winning this one with no problems. He’s won every pre-Emmy award to this point; he won in this category last year. The real question is, will one of the leads in Only Murders manage to final stop him? Part of me really wants Steve Martin or Martin Short (or hell, both of them) to get a trophy they more than deserve for their funny, sobering, and yes action-packed work. But I’m a realist. I don’t see any reason to suspect Sudeikis won’t win again here. Next month, that’s another story.
Should Win: Steve Martin/Martin Short.
Will Win: Sudeikis.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY, BROADCAST OR CABLE
Another easy one, though I don’t deny it hurts. Pamela Adlon really deserves to win something for all the years she did everything on Better Things. Tracee Ellis Ross really should have won something for her work on black-ish. By all right, Issa Rae should have been the African-American female hyphenate who was going to finally get recognition.
But honestly, can anyone argue that Quinta Brunson hasn’t earned it? Abbott Elementary is one of the most remarkable achievements in television on any platform, and Brunson makes it sing. She has moved up a lot to challenge Jean Smart for the Emmy this year, and can anyone blame them? Brunson is magical on screen, and a wonder behind it. This is going to be the first of many red carpets she walks down and many awards.
Should Win/Will Win: Brunson.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY, STREAMING
This is nearly as easy a choice as Brunson’s. Barring an upset of massive proportions by either Brosnahan or Kaley Cuoco, look for Jean Smart to repeat for her incredible work in the second season of Hacks. Nor would this be a case of laziness by the HCA; having seen the second season, Smart’s work is as good as it was in the first. Selena Gomez is the only nominee I’d want to see win instead, and let’s be honest: she’ll have another chance.
Should Win/Will Win: Smart.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY, BROADCAST OR CABLE
This is where things start getting interesting. There are several good choices among the nominees and only a handful mirror the Emmys. I could see it going to Tyler James Williams or Chris Perfetti for Abbott Elementary; both were superb. Bryan Tyree Henry more than earned his spot her for ‘New Jazz’ and was actually more of a lead than Donald Glover. But at the end of the day, I think one of the winners will come down to Barry.
I would like to see Anthony Carrigan prevail for his stunning work as Noho Hank, as he demonstrated along with Hader is ability to merge drama with comedy. But my choice goes to Henry Winkler, whose work throughout the season was just magnificent. Some of the greatest drama and the biggest laughs came from watching Gene this season, and he has more than earned it.
Should Win: Carrigan/Winkler.
Will Win: Winkler (but no bad choices.)
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY, STREAMING
The obvious choice is Goldstein, considering he was as brilliant in Season 2 as he was in Season 1. But I actually think there’s a chance that one of the other series will prevail here. I could see Tony Shalhoub triumphing for his work on Marvelous Mrs. Maisel — the critics love him and this is one of the few groups he has yet to win an award from. Nathan Lane’s working in Only Murders was extremely funny — and given his key part in the plot, also allowed him to show some true dramatic range.
My personal preference is for Paul W. Downs whose work as the beleaguered agent on Hacks showed enormous growth on his part. He was overlooked for a nomination (for acting; he’s getting nominations for producing the series.) I think Downs could manage an upset here, but I think it a strong possibility Shalhoub will prevail.
Should Win: Downs.
Will Win: Shalhoub (but again, no bad choices)
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY, BROADCAST OR CABLE
This one is wide open. I have a lot of preferences here. I would love to see Zasie Beetz win for her extraordinary work on Atlanta; I think Sarah Goldberg was snubbed by the Emmys this year for her stunning work on Barry. I just want D’Arcy Carden to win for something, anything.
But at the end of the day, I think this comes down to one of the exceptional women at the center of Abbott Elementary, and in our hearts we know who it is. Only an actress as superb as Janelle James could make Ava wonderfully clueless and full of heart at the same time. She’s going to be winning as many awards as Brunson at some point, and if it starts here, I’m fine with it.
Should Win: Beetz/Goldberg/basically anybody.
Will Win: James.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY, STREAMING
Could we have a second straight year with a tie? And could the co-winners be the exact same winners from last year? Having seen the exceptional work by the Hannahs (Waddingham in Ted Lasso; Einbinder in Hacks) it’s really hard to argue that both haven’t earned it again for this year. But Alex Borstein could easily make an impression for Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as she has in every other awards group. And don’t rule out Amy Ryan, whose work in Only Murders had heart, even though it mislead.
This year, my personal preference is Einbinder. I undervalued her work prior to this group; now it’s more than clear she deserves to stand on her own. If I have a slight favorite in the Emmys this year, it is Einbinder. Does that give her enough momentum to get past Waddingham, who dominated the awards prior to the Emmys? We’ll see.
Should Win: Einbinder.
Will Win: Einbinder/Waddingham (I’m guessing.)
As for writing and directing, in streaming I honestly wouldn’t mind if Reservation Dogs took one of the prizes. I have a personal leaning towards ‘The Boy From 6B’ in Only Murders in the Building because it was a personal master class. But there are few bad choices in either. As for broadcast and cable, I want to see Brunson, Glover, Adlon and Rae each win one award, but I know that’s impossible. So I’ll go with Brunson for the Pilot of Abbott Elementary and Glover for ‘Rich Wigga, Poor Wigga of Atlanta as my preference. But in both those categories, there are almost no bad choices. (I’m waffling on American Auto in writing.)
Tomorrow I will deal with the Dramas where I am infinitely happier with almost every choice than I was for the Emmys. (Again, low bar.)