Critics' Choice TV Awards: Finally Someone Gets it Right!

By Tim Surette

Jun 07, 2011

Here at, we love the concept of awards shows. But in practice, awards shows always seem to lean a little too heavily on the common denominator—in addition to kowtowing to influence from big studios that reap rewards whenever their products' trophy cases get a little heavier. Yeah, I just called the Emmys a total sham.

Before I make myself sound even more like an insufferable tool who's whining about not getting his way, let me explain it more bluntly: The Emmys and its ilk play things too safe. They try to balance credibility with mainstream popularity in order to maximize their stature and ratings, respectively. The result is usually a watered-down ceremony during which everyone pats each other on the back as soon as they finish scratching each other's backs.

That's why the recently released nominations for the inaugural Critics' Choice Television Awards, from the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, are such a breath of fresh air. The categories are typical, but several of the nominees are not. Let's take a look at some of the highlights. (The full list of nominees in the Drama and Comedy categories appears at the bottom of this page).

1. Genre shows are getting their due in the Best Drama category
The CCTAs followed the model of the Academy awards by overloading its two main Drama and Comedy categories with nominations, but at least they realized that Lost isn't the only award-worthy sci-fi/fantasy show out there. Among the 10 nominees in the category are Fringe, Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead—three shows that are deserving of drama kudos but will likely scare off Emmy voters because (over-generalization alert!) they're all old curmudgeons who still think science-fiction is the domain of teenage boys. My only minor gripe is that Men of a Certain Age didn't get any love. (Note: Eligible series aired between June of 2010 and May 31 of this year, hence no Breaking Bad.)

2. Historically Emmy-ignored drama actors are getting the recognition they deserve
Breaking into the Emmys club isn't easy, as voters love to repeat nominees in the acting fields from year to year. I guess the thinking goes that if an actor was nominated last year and is still on the show, he or she is still good enough to be nominated. But that makes it harder for breakout performances to shine through (Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston is an exception). Case in point: Friday Night Lights' Kyle Chandler didn't get recognized for his superb work until last year, about four years too late. But the CCTAs aren't afraid to throw new names in the mix: Timothy Olyphant earned a nod for Justified (though to be fair, I think he'll be an Emmy nominee this year, too), as did his castmates Walton Goggins and Margo Martindale. But the names on this list that surprised me most are those of Anna Torv and John Noble of Fringe, who have quietly been doing award-worthy work. The Emmys completely ignore network shows that are ratings-challenged, and I'll eat my shoe if Noble and Torv appear on the Emmys ballot this year. Props to the CCTAs for giving these two their due.

3. The Best Comedy nominees include shows that are actually funny
This may be a direct result of having 10 nominees, but any Best Comedy list that includes both Archer and Louie is okay in my book. I think we can agree on one thing: Archer, the raunchy FX 'toon about an arrogant superspy, will NEVER get nominated for an Emmy, even if the Emmys eventually create a category for "Best Animated Series About an Arrogant Superspy" (the award would probably just go straight to Mad Men). Louie, which is also on FX, faces a similar situation: The show a free-form mining of Louis C.K.'s perverse, yet insightful, brain. Constantly talking about masturbation is a surefire way to not be invited to the Emmys. The Golden Globes, maybe, because they just want anyone to pay attention to them. But the Emmys, no way. Community, the most innovative network comedy by far, has also been nominated in this category for the CCTAs. But what will its chances be come Emmy time? I get the feeling it's simply too weird for the Emmys, even though it's arguably the best comedy on TV right now. One gripe: no nomination for It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I know it's not as good as it used to be, but are there really 10 comedies out better than Sunny?

I'm not sure if The Critics' Choice TV Awards will ever become a hit, but at least it's starting off in the right direction. The awards will air on Reelz Channel on June 22, but can be watched live on June 20 on

Here's the full list of nominees in the Drama and Comedy categories:

Boardwalk Empire
Friday Night Lights
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
The Killing
Mad Men
The Walking Dead

Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
William H. Macy, Shameless
Timothy Olyphant, Justified

Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights
Mireille Enos, The Killing
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy
Anna Torv, Fringe

Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
Walton Goggins, Justified
Shawn Hatosy, Southland
John Noble, Fringe
Michael Pitt, Boardwalk Empire
John Slattery, Mad Men

Michelle Forbes, The Killing
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Margo Martindale, Justified
Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
Chloë Sevigny, Big Love

The Big Bang Theory
The Middle
Modern Family
The Office
Parks and Recreation
30 Rock

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Louis C.K., Louie
Charlie Day, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Joel McHale, Community
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

Courteney Cox, Cougar Town
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Patricia Heaton, The Middle
Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Nick Offerman, Parks and Recreation
Ed O’Neill, Modern Family
Danny Pudi, Community
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Jane Lynch, Glee
Busy Philipps, Cougar Town
Eden Sher, The Middle
Sofía Vergara, Modern Family

Which shows and actors do you think are most deserving of these noms? Is anyone missing from these lists?

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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  • Lady_Lancaster Jun 26, 2011

    I'd love to see Anna Torv win for "Fringe".

  • bookchamp96 Jun 16, 2011

    LOVE!! the Fringe nominations. Watching that show since the beginning and Im glad its finally getting the recognition it deserves. If any actors deserve an emmy it would be anna torv and john noble, with Walters... quirkiness and Walternates increasingly complex character. and The drama that accompanies both Olivias whereever they go. i know this post was just Fringe gushing, but im going into withdrawal since the season ended

  • jhday Jun 13, 2011

    "But the names on this list that surprised me most are those of Anna Torv and John Noble of Fringe, who have quietly been doing award-worthy work. "

    Amen! to that, and Fringe being on the 'best drama' list. My other picks: Timothy Olyphant, Margo Martindale, Martha Plimpton, Eric Stonestreet, Parks and Recreation

  • vicbjones Jun 13, 2011

    I don't see myself paying any more attention to these awards than I would to any other TV awards. Just mewling critics crying for attention they're not likely to receive.

  • koolrebel Jun 12, 2011

    Outsourced is the funniest comedy. Only good noms are Archer, Community, Glee, The Middle & Modern Family for the comedies. Broadwalk Empire, Dexter, Fringe, Mad Men & the Walking Dead for Dramas. Julie, Jane Lynch, Busy, Eden & Sophia are all great for sup actress in comedies. Ty, Neil, Ed, Danny & Eric are all great for sup actors in comedies. Only Courtney & Patrica for best actress in comedy. Alec & Charlie excellent choice for best actor in comedy. John Noble & Michael Pitt are incredible for best sup actor in dramas. Steve, Michael, Jon & William for best actor in a drama. Anna Torv only one for best actress in drama. Too bad for Josha Jackson who's even better in Fringe. How I Met Your Mother, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless, Pretty Little Liars & Nikita should've got noms also. Nurse Jackie, The Office & The Big Bang Theory are the worst shows on TV & they got noms. Don't forget the great Charlie Sheen & the wonderful Betty White.

  • knoffihoffi Jun 12, 2011

    *....Missing Peter Dinklage for supporting actor in Game of Thrones....*

    In case of GoT, it is really difficult to say who is main charakter and who is supporting character. For GoT, you really fare well with the credo *Expect the unexpected!*
    But I really salute CCTA for the list of nominations.
    GoT Cha! ;)

  • woahwoah678 Jun 11, 2011

    Comedy catergories:Best Comedy:Glee,Best Actor:Jim Parsons,Best actress:Tina Fey,Best supporting actor:Eric Stonestreet,Best Supporting actress:Sofia Vergara

  • Bahbers Jun 10, 2011

    Where is Cote de Pablo from NCIS---does anyone not believe she is Israeli & Mossad? Her acting is superb. Edie Falco has gone on record saying her show is NOT a comedy so what's up with that?

  • angeland8 Jun 09, 2011

    Best drama - Justified, best actor in drama - Michael C. Hall, best actress - Katey Sagal, best supporting actor - Alan Cumming, actress - Archie Panjabi (since there's no Julia Styles), best comedy - Community, best actor in comedy - Jim Parsons, actress - Edie Falco, supporting actor - Danny Pudi, actress - Busy Philipps. In my opinion ;)

  • Watashii Jun 09, 2011

    I don't follow the Critic's Choice awards but I'm happy Fringe is there. I like Breaking Bad and B. Cranston but somehow I'm happy he is not nominated. I hope the Emmys will have a similar list. I still think Hugh Laurie deserves an Emmy for his years as House. The episode where he operated himself should made him a contender.

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