You can applaud the Broadcast Television Journalists Association for one thing: they aren’t afraid to try new things. Unlike their Oscar-obsessed brothers (the Broadcast Film Critics Association who nearly perfectly predicted the Oscars earlier this winter), they aren’t obsessed with completely matching the Emmy Awards. Of course, comparing the Oscar season to the Emmy season is akin to comparing oranges to Cadillacs.
Recent Oscar seasons have been all about knocking out the competition and predetermining the winners as early as possible. The Emmys, on the other hand, roughly have the same competitors year-in/year-out, so it takes a little excitement out of award prognostication. Because the Television Academy is notoriously slow to adapt to new or edgy television (see: Sons of Anarchy, The Wire, Oz, etc. etc. etc.), watchers get antsy, bored with the same comfortable choices, which is why it’s dangerous to make too much of the Critics Choice nominations.
Looking at this morning’s nominations, I really feel like the BTJA just collectively said, “F*** it. Imma go on over here and do my own thing. Ya’ll give it to Modern Family again all you want.” While I don’t agree with all of the nominations personally, I truly get behind the path they chose. For a complete list of nominations, check out Craig’s post from earlier today.
My absolute favorite nomination from the day has to be the Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series bid for Walking Dead MVP Melissa McBride. I plan to wax poetic about McBride’s fantastic, harrowing performance in a later piece, but todayI’m jumping for joy. McBride’s Carol is the tortured and dirty heart of that show. If no one ever nominates Turn’s Heather Lind in the same category, then I can deal as long as this first major award recognition for McBride be a harbinger of great things to come for her.
I’m also thrilled that Diana Rigg (Game of Thrones), Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel), and Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black) were all recognized with somewhat uncertain nominations. Do I think these will translate into Emmy nominations? Maybe.
Given the erratic behavior of the BTJA, comparisons between categories are somewhat futile. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if only one or two in each of the performance category nominees repeat with Emmy nominations. Much like the Oscars, the Emmys largely tend to nominate their friends, going with big names in most categories. They stick with familiar, popular shows. The Critics Choice-nominated cast members from Veep will be safe come Emmy time and will most likely be joined by others from that great show. Yet, not a single cast member from Modern Family received a Critics Choice nomination, and I find it nearly inconceivable that trend will repeat at the Emmys. Same with Kevin Spacey (House of Cards), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), or Lena Dunham (Girls).
Speaking of Girls, the flip side of honoring new shows and talent is that we sometimes forget older shows that have perhaps lost their buzz are still doing great work. You cannot look at Girls season three and tell me they’re not firing on all cylinders. Hopefully, Dunham and company include the Beach House episode in their official Emmy submissions. That episode touchingly highlighted the main characters’ fragile relationships in a true-to-life manner, and, given the Emmys resistance to change, I suspect Girls will still be safe for a nomination.
Mad Men’s precursor slide started with last year’s widely perceived uneven season, and, despite much publicity over the beginning of the show’s end, it doesn’t have the same excitement and sense of urgency that Breaking Bad had at the same point in its lifespan. I suspect it is also still safe for Emmy love, but I wouldn’t be totally surprised if it is left off the table for the first time in its history. Ditto with Downton Abbey, a guilty pleasure of mine that even I will admit has far outlasted its Emmy worth.
So, don’t toss out your Emmy nomination ballot yet because Shameless, Silicon Valley, and Broad City all received multiple Critics Choice nominations. The safest bet is to think like the Emmys and go with what you know**. The only wrinkle this year is the advent of Emmy online voting. Perhaps that will throw a little new blood into the staid proceedings beyond the expected influx of Orange is the New Black.
** Except for Turn’s Heather Lind. Please nominate this woman. Now.