Why did Critics’ Choice TV Awards snub past favorites like ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Orphan Black’?

Last year, the Broadcast Television Journalist Assn. embraced “Game of Thrones,” “Louie” and “Orphan Black,” showering six Critics' Choice TV Awards nominations on these shows. This year, only "Game of Thrones" merited a single mention while the other two were snubbed. 

Why such a big difference?

While the BTJA kept the same eligibility period of June 1 to May 31, it announced its nominations 22 days earlier this year than last. These three series are airing a slew of new episodes this month. Were BTJA voters uncomfortable voting for content that they hadn't seen?

Critics Choice' TV Awards: Complete list of nominations

To date, “Game of Thrones” has aired only four episodes this year and reaped a single nomination (Best Drama Series). It won that award here two years ago and is a frontrunner in that race at the Emmys. As Diana Rigg did not appear in any of those four episodes, it is not surprising she was ousted from Drama Guest Performer after two consecutive nominations.

Critics' Choice TV Awards nominations hail 'Justified,' 'Empire,' 'Jane the Virgin' and

Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”) won Best Drama Actress here for the last two years running. However, only three episodes of her show’s third season have aired. So, she was left off the list of CCTA contenders this year. 

Louie” was up for three CCTA Awards last year and four the year before. With only four episodes having aired this year, it was blanked by the BTJA. Not even two-time Best Comedy Actor champ Louis C.K. was nominated. 

In 2011, the first year of the CCTAs, “Mad Men” won three awards including Best Drama Series. It reaped five bids in 2012 but then only one in 2013 and none last year. Given that this is its final year of eligibility, it might have been expected to rally as the departing “Justified” did.

After all, that FX hit had not been up for Best Drama Series since 2011 but leads all dramas in 2015 with five nominations including a bid in that top race. Instead, “Mad Men” goes out with a whimper with no nominations. Indeed, by the time that these awards are handed out on May 31, the “Mad Men” series finale will have aired. Viewers will have to be forgiven if they assumed that critics hated it. 

Emmy heavy hitters “Modern Family,” “Downton Abbey” and “House of Cards” were also snubbed by the CCTA. As most, if not all, of their seasons aired well before voting, this discrepancy is due to a matter of differing tastes between the two voting bodies. The long-running "Modern Family" and "Downton Abbey" were once favorites of these kudos but it has been several years since they appeared on that many critics' top 10 lists. And "House of Cards" has never been a CCTA darling. 

Compare those three to “Game of Thrones”, “Mad Men” and “Louie” which are still regularly cited by critics as among the best of television. On Metacritic, they scored 91, 83 and 92 respectively for the early episodes of their current seasons. 

The CCTA could look mighty silly in a few months if these shows deliver in the back halves of their seasons and dominate the Emmys, but hey, at least the CCTA got to be “first!”

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