And They’re Bigger and Better Than Ever
Ever since I became aware of the Television Critics Association a few years ago, I’ve been impressed by their ability to nominate series that the Emmys are unlikely to nominate and if they do, more frequently than not, don’t win. I have spent the last month salivating for the times they would finally get around to it. Last night, the nominations were announced and while the collective group isn’t quite as impressive as the Hollywood Critics Association last week, it’s still a formidable group.
Indeed, one of their more impressive accomplishments was deciding that they should include more nominees in each category. Where they have been locked on five or six for most their career, in 2021 they’ve expanded to eight nominees per category which actually leaves a lot of room.
In individual achievement in Drama, as has been the case the last few years, limited series dominated. Michaela Coel, Anya Taylor-Joy, Kate Winslet and Elizabeth Olsen duplicated their feats at the Emmys. But imagine my joy to see Ethan Hawke recognized for his superb performance in The Good Lord Bird. And a lot of people are going to be thrilled to see Thosu Mdubu acknowledged for The Underground Railroad. I’m glad to see that MJ Rodriguez is among their ranks for her superb performance in Pose and I think there’ll be some shouting to see Omar Sy recognized for the beloved Lupin.
As for Individual Achievement in Comedy, it was similar dominated by female performers. Kaley Cuoco and Jean Smart were here, but there are going to be people just as happy to see Renee Elise Goldsberry for Girls5Eva and Maya Erskine for Pen15. (Having just started to watch the series, I admit I’ll probably be won.) Ted Lasso got two nods, both deserved, for Jason Sudeikis and Hannah Waddingham. I’m less sure about Bo Burnham being here for his Netflix special, but Mythic Quest fans will be glad to see Charlotte Nicdao.
Outstanding New Program has a lot contenders from every field — Hacks, The Flight Attendant and Ted Lasso from comedy, the inevitable acknowledgment of Bridgerton and the less likely acknowledgement of Starz P-Valley and I May Destroy You, Mare of Easttown and Wandavision. (We’re still not sure whether the latter two will become drama series.)
As you’d expect in achievement in Movie, Miniseries or Specials, the last three series are mentioned here, as is The Queen’s Gambit. But imagine my joy to The Good Lord Bird here. People will also be glad to see It’s A Sin. Not thrilled about Bo Burnham, but at least there’s no Hamilton.
Outstanding Achievement in Drama features many of the usual suspects — Bridgerton, The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, Lovecraft Country, The Mandalorian and Pose. But there is some variety — P-Valley is also present as well as the alternate history space drama For All Mankind. Comedy has some of the usual suspects to — The Flight Attendant, Hacks, Pen15 and of course, Ted Lasso. But imagine my delight to see not only Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist but Superstore represented. There will be similar elation in some circles to see Girls5Eva and mythic Quest here.
And hell, they were willing to go to nine nominees for achievement in variety, talk and sketch. Here are the usual suspects — SNL, The Daily Show, John Oliver, and Stephen Colbert. But wait — here’s Seth Meyers! And Desus and Mero! And A Black Lady Sketch Show! And Ziwe, one of the most radical series to air this year. And Amber Ruffin was nominated, and I said what?!
Program of the Year is a broad category and its hard to argue with any of the choices — Ted Lasso for the comedies, I May Destroy You, The Queen’s Gambit, The Underground Railroad, Wandavision and Mare of Easttown complete the Limited Series. I’m still not sold on Hacks, and it’s going to be really hard to sell me on Bridgerton — especially considering that The Crown isn’t here.
I’ve left aside the other categories — News and Information is a mixed bag, though its hard to argue with Allen V. Farrow, I’ll be Gone in the Dark and Frontline and 60 Minutes. I ignore reality in principle, but I am glad to see Couples Therapy recognized. And aside from Sesame Street and Baby-Sitter’s Club, I know nothing about any of the Youth programs nominated. But overall it’s a solid group, recognizing quite a few shows that got overlooked by the Emmys and refusing to honor some of the show that didn’t really deserve it. Would I have liked to see Fargo or Cruel Summer here? Obviously. But the HCA handled that particular part well. I don’t know when they’ll meet, but I can’t wait to see who they choose. Groups like this make me proud of my choice of careers.