It’s war: Let’s criticize the TV Critics Association Awards

How should Gold Derby respond when a member of the Board of the Directors of the Television Critics Association attacks us as “MORONS” for having the audacity to discuss the TCA Awards in a video? Happily, his unprofessional tantrum was denounced by some of his peers, but we have held off till now to offer our own response.

Clearly, some critics can’t take criticism, so let’s really lay it on and hope that all TCA leaders, not just our attacker, consider reforming one of the most seriously flawed media awards on the planet. In our follow-up video, Gold Derby editors Marcus Dixon and Riley Chow join me in detailing many of its gravest sins today and yesterday (neither “The Wire” nor “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” ever won a TCA Award for dramatic program or individual achievement) and absurdities (how can “Orange Is the New Black” now be nominated for Program of the Year but not be up for either Best Drama or Comedy Series?). However, we also make a point of celebrating many of their past TCA Award winners that were not only deserved, but Emmyless. (Thank you, TCA, for all that “Malcolm in the Middle” love!)

There’s a curious degree of institutional arrogance that pervades TCA, which is a journalists’ group that does not believe in transparency or in maintaining journalist standards at its website. At the site, you will not find a list of TCA members. Why hide them? By comparison, the Critics Choice TV Awards reveal their members at their site. Ditto all other major journalist groups that bestow awards, including the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and even, egads, the much-maligned Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

There’s something else you won’t find at the TCA site either. Even though they are only days away from bestowing the 2014 awards, these journalists still have not gotten around to adding last year’s winners to their award database. Yes, you can find the list if you dig through old press releases, but winners are missing from the database, which is also lacking something else, by the way: past nominees. The fact that TCA does not list past nominations suggests one of two things: laziness or else its leaders do not want us to see what they passed up when declaring winners. Such omissions would be bad enough if made by any other awards organization, but these are journalists doing a very poor job of journalism.

But the biggest problem with the TCA Award is the voting process that reaped embarrassing results this year. “Masters of Sex” and “Silicon Valley” were shut out of the nominations even though both programs reaped sky-high scores at Metacritic. “Sleepy Hollow,” by comparison, got nominated for Program of the Year even though TV critics only gave it a 64 score at Metacritic. Meantime, over at the rival Critics Choice TV Awards, “Masters of Sex” and “Silicon Valley” received multiple nominations. Bottom line: the TCA Awards voting process is seriously flawed and in desperate need of overhaul.

Memo to all TCA leaders: It’s time you considered dire changes and improvements. First of all, come out from hiding and stop hurling childish insults at other journalists if you don’t like what we say. We offer our critique constructively, the same way TV critics scrutinize TV programs, and we hope that you’ll take these thoughts to heart. A few years ago, we came down equally hard on the Critics’ Choice Awards and we’d like you to consider their response: President Joey Berlin discussed our views with his Board of Directors, they agreed with much of what we said and they made serious reforms. Today, Berlin says, the integrity of those awards is vastly improved by those changes.

Here at Gold Derby we love the TCA Awards. When you are at your best, you really nail it and we hail you for it. Some of your members and past officers participate at Gold Derby right now with their Emmy predictions and we consider many of them to be good friends. We’re baffled by the current attack by your organization’s leadership, but let’s hope this invites frank, open discussion that encourages you to make long-overdue changes desperately needed at TCA.

Below, please watch Part 2 of our video discussion of the TCA Awards and share these thoughts and suggestions with the full TCA membership. Or else listen to the podcast version here or at iTunes.

RELATED: TCA Board Member apologizes for calling Gold Derby ‘morons’


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13 thoughts on “It’s war: Let’s criticize the TV Critics Association Awards

  1. Why does it matter, Gold Derby? That one association among many random associations, all of whom give out awards that only matter to those giving and receiving, is not good at maintaining their website? Internet beefs this indulgent come along very rarely, so if you were looking to distinguish yourself in that way– well done. I’m glad you have something to fill your site with in what is apparently a slow news week for you. This is idiotic.

  2. Dan Fienberg would be the first to tell you that the TCA Awards aren’t perfect. I’m not sure any of their voting members would make that argument. Nor would he be annoyed or angered that people were “discussing the TCA Awards” in a video, which you somewhat ridiculously claim. He’s annoyed that you’re lobbing criticism at the voters and the process without taking the time to understand that process, which ya know…you guys should probably do if you’re so called “awards experts” (even though it seems none of you actually watch any television programs). I don’t really want to watch 45 minutes of you guys just saying “Huh…and they nominated this too…these awards sure are strange huh?” Yeah thanks for the hard hitting analysis, guys. Dan might feel bad about calling you guys morons, but I think this post only proves how right he was.

  3. Uh, when declaring war and demeaning journalistic standards — don’t you think there should be some internal consistency in one’s own puffing up of chests? Dudes – the tweet is in black and white at the top of the article where “morons” is NOT in ALL CAPS! Yet that is *explicitly* how the declaration of war is introduced in video. No need to listen further, cuz it reads like “waaah”, w/ selective memory and all. FAIL.

  4. So … Brendan, Daniel was right in calling us “Morons,” you say? And you admit you haven’t watched this video? Well, thanks for contributing to intelligent conversation of the seriously flawed TCA Awards. I f you bother to watch this video, you’ll see that we explain in depth the likely reason for the problems — the nomination process. We explain in depth how the voting works — and why it doesn’t work to produce the best results in SOME cases. But don’t bother learning the facts. Just keep hurling childish insults.

  5. The website criticism is incredibly petty, especially since this entire kerfuffle is Goldderby’s fault. Had the so-called “experts” done their due diligence and researched the TCA nomination process (how you claim to be awards experts and still exhibit such clueless behaviors toward fairly big ceremonies is beyond me), you wouldn’t have been caught with your pants down in part one. But this site has become more about its inflated ego (see: the arrogance regarding BTJA) and less about substantive awards analysis, so nobody should be surprised at what happened here.

  6. We’ve discussed the awards nominating process in depth and we’ve isolated it as the chief problem behind dubious award results. If TCA would permit members to vote for more than 2 entries when picking nominees that could expand the base of recognition.

  7. Wow…you guys are awe fully full of yourselves. Yes, the TCAs probably need to change things. But that doesn’t mean that you are the ones the should be listening to. I mean, it’s great that the Critics Choice awards are super awesome now ALL because of you. And we all know that you alone are responsible for hundreds of Emmy wins. But, fun fact, reading about how awesome someone thinks they are gets old fast.

  8. Tom,

    For starters, it would take you all of ten seconds to Google “TCA Awards” and discover that The Wire was nominated four times for Outstanding Drama and Program of the Year and that Buffy was nominated in the same categories twice. Sarah Michelle Gellar even snagged a nomination for individual achievement in drama.

    Second, why all the worries about trying to make every award show the same? So the Critics’ Choice liked Silicon Valley and the TCA liked Brooklyn Nine-Nine. That’s not a bug, it’s a feature. Different people like different things. And it’s hard to see past the fact that most of your arguments boil down to “why aren’t they nominating things I like”? So they limit their categories to two acting awards. I don’t particularly care for that either, but I’m a “big tent” kind of guy. They’re not a big tent organization and that’s their call. Is there anybody on those lists you find undeserving?

    Listen to Reilly (I think it’s Reilly). He breaks down pretty much every argument you make. Yes, it’s a wonky nomination process. But it’s also a process that allows for the recognition of shows and performances that might not get noticed elsewhere.

    As for your point about women, over the last 15 years the TCA Awards have nominated at least two women for Individual Achievement in Drama ten times and nominated one woman the other five. I don’t really see a problem there.

    Television awards are always going to be weird because they’re a) inherently subjective, like all awards and b) not every critic watches every show. A lot of critics think Hannibal is great, but I’m sure there are many who don’t watch because seeing a dude cut his face off is not their idea of great entertainment. Comedy is even more inherently subjective.

    Fundamentally, it seems like most of your complaints come down to “why did this get nominated when that didn’t” when the simple and obvious answer is “because more people liked ‘that’ or thought it more deserving of recognition.” Again, that’s not a bug in the system, it’s a feature.

  9. We do not say that The Wire or Buffy were not nominated. We say that they didn’t win TCA awards for drama program or individual achievement. Those are facts.

  10. Okay, fair point. But The Wire and Buffy received more recognition from TCA than from every other major awards group combined and you’re still not satisfied because they never won? They lost to, in drama, The West Wing, The Sopranos, Mad Men, and Boomtown. That’s a pretty good group to lose to.

  11. I’m actually taken aback by that Twitter response by Feinberg. I’m going to say however that he doesn’t speak for all of the TCA and Feinberg certainly deserves all the criticism and backlash because his very myopic tweet only served to open the door to seasoned analysts like Gold Derby and exposed the shortcomings of the TCAs as a whole.
    I hope the TCAs respond in a more cogent manner and constructive manner than a silly tweet like the one above that reads to me like false bravado.
    Gold Derby has criticized – and frankly at that – even more prestigious awards like the Golden Globes and Emmys in the past and not even those voting bodies have so childishly hit out at Gold Derby.
    Thank you Tom and Co. for calling them on their hypocrisy.
    If the TCAs are selling themselves as a body that celebrates excellence then the bare minimum is that they uphold it in their own house too.

  12. I did watch your video, Tom. I explained pretty clearly why I thought it was bad:

    “I don’t really want to watch 45 minutes of you guys just saying “Huh…and they nominated this too…these awards sure are strange huh?” Yeah thanks for the hard hitting analysis, guys.”

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