Awards Tracker: The Critics’ Choice and a Year of Controvery

Critics' Choice

Awards season and the Critics’ Choice are upon us and with them comes controversy.

The Fall TV awards season begins next Monday, November 14th, when the Broadcast Television Journalists Association announce their television nominees for the 7th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards. This week, as frivolous as it feels in our current American political situation, I’ll dissect the current controversies surrounding the BTJA and end the tracker with some of the shows we’ll likely see recognized when nominations are announced.

Critics’ Choice Controversy

The Critics’ Choice Awards are a relatively new awards group, especially on the television side. Recently, the BTJA ran into a major setback that ended with many of the industry’s top television critics resigning from the association including Ken Tucker and two of the nominating committee’s co-chairs, Michael Ausiello and Debra Birnbaum.

The recent departures from the BTJA stem from the decision to partner with Entertainment Weekly not only with the announcement of their nominations but also linking the awards group to various exclusive Critics’ Choice content featured on the magazine’s website. Many respected critics penned a letter condemning this new partnership, ending the letter with their resignation from the group. TVLine’s Michael Ausiello described his frustrations with the changes as “it seems like it’s becoming a marketing event for a single brand, and that’s something I’m just not comfortable with.”

Over the course of two days, 13 critics in total have resigned from the BTJA, accounting for almost 15 percent of the group’s members. Without critics from websites like Indiewire, TVLine, TVGuide, Variety, US Weekly, and Buzzfeed, the association will have a difficult time earning respect as an awards group originally meant to represent the best of the critical industry honoring the best TV has to offer. This is not the first time some of the members have been loudly critical of the organization. Earlier this year the board announced that they would be moving the awards ceremony to December 11th, a choice many of its members criticized a publicity stunt to be the first award of the season that detracted from the films and shows they were trying to celebrate.

It will be interesting to see if the award’s seventh batch of nominees consist of peculiar choices without some of the most respected and recognizable critics in the industry or even worse predominately feature only shows that EW championed.

The Top Shows to Look Out For

The Critics’ Choice awards always produce some of the most left-field choices for their favorite series and performances of the year, making their nominations and winners some of the most interesting of the year. These are some of the shows and performances to keep an eye on this year.

(Photo: HBO)

 Drama Races

The Americans – The (partially) reigning Critics’ Choice winner for Outstanding Drama has been nominated for every season, and, with Season 4 the most beloved by critics yet, there is a huge chance The Americans will be a major player.

Animal Kingdom – The family crime drama fits in with some of the critics’ group past obsessions like Sons of Anarchy, so it wouldn’t be too surprising if BTJA voters make room for the show, especially in the supporting races for actors like Ellen Barkin or Shawn Hatosy.

Bates Motel – BTJA voters have always made room in their nominations for Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore, and, after some of their best material, they have a good chance of returning once again.

Marvel’s Luke Cage – A Marvel superhero show might not seem like an obvious awards contender, especially with critics, but critics and audiences have been warming up the Netflix/Marvel partnership, first with an actress nomination for Krysten Ritter last year. Luke Cage is even bigger and even possibly broke down the server for a couple hours, and critics have had a lot of great things to say about the show’s social commentary on gentrification in Harlem.

Mr. Robot – As the other reigning drama champ (and arguably the most accoladed new show of 2015), Mr. Robot shouldn’t be counted out for its sophomore season even if it was one of the most divisive seasons of TV in 2016. No matter what critics are still in love with Rami Malek’s lead performance, and he should remain a frontrunner.

Rectify – Although the Sundance drama hasn’t garnered much attention over the years, it has been a critics darling, especially Aden Young. As the only show (of any genre) to earn a score of 100 on Metacritic, Rectify should be a major contender for its fourth season.

Stranger ThingsStranger Things may appear as more of a pop culture phenomenon than a critical darling, but BTJA voters have always warmed up to genre shows. The popularity surrounding the show should mean good things for actors like Winona Ryder, Millie Bobby Brown, and the show as a whole.

This is Us – As the critics’ darling of network TV, This is Us has a good chance of popping up at this year’s Critics’ Choice Awards, especially in the supporting actor races since this is the awards group that fell in love with the Parenthood ensemble.

Westworld – The TV buzz over the past couple weeks has been almost entirely focused on the mysteries of Westworld, and no other fall drama has come close to attracting the same amount of attention. Depending on how obsessed the BTJA becomes with the show, it could rack up a lot of acting nominations for the show’s ensemble.

Season 3
(Photo: Comedy Central)

Comedy Races

Atlanta – As the best reviewed comedy of 2016, Atlanta should have no problem breaking into the outstanding omedy race as well as Donald Glover becoming a lead actor frontrunner.

black-ish – The Critics’ Choice Awards have always made room in the comedy races for sitcoms, and no other television family is gaining as much attention as ABC’s the Johnsons. As the best sitcom on network TV, black-ish should easily return to all major categories, and in a perfect world might even earn a supporting actress nomination for the legendary Jenifer Lewis.

Broad City – For the show’s first two seasons, BTJA voters made sure to nominate Broad City as one of their favorite comedies of the year as well as singling Ilana Glazer out. It will be interesting if they continue to make room for the MTV comedy now that they are voting at the end of the year as opposed to the spring when the show is fresher in their minds.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Last year, critics took it upon themselves to champion Rachel Bloom and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend as the little show that could throughout the awards season, and it seems that a year later their love for the TV musical has only grown. On top of a second nomination for Bloom, critics just might nominate the show in the outstanding comedy race.

Insecure – It seems that everyone is obsessed with Issa Rae, and she is on her way to earning her first major awards nomination. There’s a good chance Insecure could be recognized as one of the BTJA’s favorite comedies of the year as well.

Lady Dynamite – Netflix had a hard time finding the right audience for Maria Bamford’s show as it was one of the most personal, uncomfortable, and genre defying shows on television. If anyone’s going to embrace one of the strangest comedies of all-time it will be the critics.

Silicon Valley – As the last winner of the Outstanding Comedy award before the television awards timeline was moved to match the film awards, the HBO workplace comedy is probably a major contender once again, even if ADTV wasn’t the biggest fan of the newest season. If their hosting choice (TJ Miller) is any indicator, we might be seeing even more recognition for the show.

Speechless – The BTJA loves the matriarchs of ABC’s comedies and has nominated nearly every one of them since the award’s conception, so the first comedy with a disabled child starring Minnie Driver should have a good chance at receiving some sort of recognition.

Transparent – Even as the show steers further and further away from comedy territory it still seems to dominate with voting groups. This year there seemed to be little buzz surrounding the third season premiere, and whether or not the show is recognized this year will be a good indicator if the show is losing steam.

Veep – In such a rough election year, the silver lining seemed to be Veep‘s fifth season which went on to receive just as much critical acclaim after the switch in showrunners from Armando Ianucci to David Mandel.

You’re The Worst – BTJA voters have always had a soft spot for the FXX comedy, and last year they awarded the show with a best comedy nomination as well as acting nominations for Aya Cash and Kether Donohue.


What shows are you anticipating to be recognized this year by the BTJA at the Critics’ Choice Awards? Will the drop in membership and new partnership with Entertainment Weekly have any sort of effect?

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