The Critics’ Choice Awards are the only awards show that still makes an effort to simultaneously reward cutting-edge streaming networks like Amazon and Netflix while still celebrating classic broadcast networks. In the comedy series race alone ABC, Netflix, Fox, Amazon, FX, and even the CW are represented unlike the HFPA last week who exclusively celebrated streaming networks and HBO in the comedy series race.
The two standouts in the comedy series race are Black-ish and Transparent. In a time where Modern Family fatigue is at an all-time high Black-ish is being celebrated as the most relatable family sitcom and is proving that broadcast networks can still remain relevant by producing quality content. Transparent is also about family but on the opposite end of the spectrum. Transparent is being celebrated for being an honest portrayal of a family from a network that is willing to take risks that other networks are not. Transparent was also celebrated with five acting nominations and every program with five acting nominations has gone on to win their respected series category (with the exception of American Horror Story: Asylum). The other nominees are Catastrophe, Jane the Virgin, The Last Man on Earth, Master of None, and You’re the Worst.
At the Golden Globes Aziz Ansari was caught reading the book Losing to Jeffrey Tambor with Dignity, however he might not need reread it before the Critics’ Choice Awards this Sunday. No other comedic talent was buzzed about more this fall than Ansari on his new show Masters of None. He was often compared to Louis CK and Woody Allen because of his ability to write, produce and star in his own work set in NYC. The other performance in the category (and current Emmy winner for best actor in a comedy) is Jeffrey Tambor for his second season of Transparent. Tambor has already won a Critics’ Choice Award, Golden Globe, and Emmy for his career defining performance as Maura. The reviews were even stronger in the second season and critics might want to continue awarding what many consider the best performance on television. Tambor and Ansari face competition in the four other nominees; Anthony Anderson (Black-ish), Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth), Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat), and Fred Savage (The Grinder).
ABC gave us two of the best comedic performances this year with Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish) and Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat). Wu was one of the breakout stars of 2015 with her performance as Jessica. Her ability to deliver one-liners made her pop up all over tumblr and critics loved her so much that this is her second nomination of 2015. Tracee Ellis Ross is a TV sitcom veteran, constantly starring in shows for the past 15 years. As Black-ish grows in popularity the buzz around Ross has done the same. Earlier this year Gina Rodriguez lost to Amy Schumer and voters want to give her a makeup award for her sophomore season. The rest of the nominees include Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Aya Cash (You’re the Worst), and Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs).
In the supporting actor race the only returning nominee is Jaime Camil for his role as a telenovela star on Jane the Virgin. Continuing into the second season Camil has been able to standout in such a large supporting cast when most of the buzz is already focused on the title character. Critics could easily fall in love with the over-the-top performance of Camil or be more drawn to the more subtle supporting performance from the only son on Transparent, Jay Duplass. He was not the standout sibling from season one, however in season two Duplass’s character garnered much more attention and was able to stand out amongst the other members of his family. If voters feel like voting for a more broad comedic performance they might choose to vote for one of the other nominees including Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Neil Flynn (The Middle), Keegan-Michael Key (Playing House), or Mel Rodriguez (Getting On).
The supporting actress in a comedy series race is the hardest category to narrow down with many of the nominees having a good chance at a win. The nominees include four former nominees, a surprise nominee from the Emmys, and an ensemble member from a best comedy contender. The six nominees are Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory), Kether Donohue (You’re the Worst), Allison Janney (Mom), Judith Light (Transparent), Niecy Nash (Getting On), and Eden Sher (The Middle). This is the second nomination in a row for Judith Light and she was also nominated for the Golden Globe this year even though she was left out of the Emmy race in the summer. Niecy Nash is finally being recognized for her wide variety of supporting performances over the years but voters might ignore Getting On has been cancelled by HBO. The supporting actress category might be the perfect opportunity for the BTJA to award You’re the Worst, a show they have nominated two ceremonies in a row now.
The BTJA loves to award guest performances that have lasting power of a good portion of the season. Past winners like Uzo Aduba and Bradley Whitford popped up multiple times in their respected seasons and made a lasting impact that stood out in voters’ minds. Anjelica Huston (Transparent), Cherry Jones (Transparent), and Jenifer Lewis (Black-ish) all have a strong presence in their respected shows and have a chance to win at the BTJA. The other nominees in the category are Ellen Burstyn (Mom), Timothy Olyphant (The Grinder), and John Slattery (Wet Hot American Summer). Jenifer Lewis delivers the funniest performance as the outlandish grandmother on Black-ish but voters might respond well to Huston for delivering her first significant performance in years.
Over the past six months television has produced a wide variety of comedies and it will be interesting to see if the BTJA joins the Globes in announcing streaming networks as the future of television or if they will make room for broadcast television. In a year with so many possibilities what shows do you think will be singled out by the critics and what comedies are you rooting for?