In its first four years, the Critics’ Choice TV Awards were held in in mid-June. This year, the Broadcast Television Journalists Assn. moved up thsee kudos by three weeks. Will the May 31 telecast sway Emmy voters, who cast their ballots from June 15 to June 26? (Click here for the complete list of winners.)
While the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, presented by the Broadcast Film Critics Assn., have been a fairly reliable barometer of the Oscars, these awards have been hit-and-miss when it comes to reflecting the Emmys.
That’s fine by me. I much prefer critics to advocate for their favorites rather than subordinate themselves to the industry by trying to act as a crystal ball. The BTJA has certainly done that, but with whether that will pay off with Emmy nominations for the critics’ favorites remains to be seen.
Best Comedy Series has only lined up at both events once: in 2011, when “Modern Family” won at both events. But the ABC sitcom was already an Emmy favorite by then, so the critics’ seal of approval probably didn’t move the needle with the TV academy. Indeed, the ABC laffer has won at every Emmys since then.
In 2012, “Community” prevailed at Critics’ Choice, but that didn’t convince Emmy voters to embrace the oddball NBC sitcom.
The next two Critics’ Choice champs – “The Big Bang Theory” (2013) and “Orange is the New Black” (2014) – were both subsequently nominated at the Emmys, but neither won. It’s hard to tell whether the critical support gave either of those shows a boost: “Big Bang” was already a two-time Emmy-nominee for Best Comedy by then, and “Orange,” one of its season’s most buzzed about new shows, might have been an Emmy contender anyway.
This year, Critics’ Choice voters went with “Silicon Valley,” which we’re already predicting will reap an Emmy bid for Best Comedy; it ranks sixth with odds of 14/1. This HBO comedy was also nominated last year by the TV academy. Wwith seven slots in this year’s Emmy lineup and “Orange” forced into the drama races, its return was likely regardless of the critics’ verdict.
However, the Critics’ Choice pick for Best Drama Series, “The Americans,” could benefit from the attention. In its first two seasons, the FX espionage drama has barely registered at the Emmys despite critical acclaim, earning just three nominations: two for Drama Guest Actress (Margo Martindale) and one for Main Title Theme Music.
These kudos have previewed the Emmy winner for Best Drama every year: “Mad Men” (2011), “Homeland” (2012), “Breaking Bad” (2013, tying with “Game of Thrones” at Critics’ Choice) and “Breaking Bad” again last year. Can the critics thus claim to have guided the TV academy? I’m not so sure. “Mad Men” had already won multiple Drama Series Emmys, while “Breaking Bad” became an unstoppable juggernaut that swept up the critics and Emmys alike. The Emmys fate of “Homeland” was less certain when it competed for its first season in 2012, so a case could be made for Emmys influence there.
This year, the critics took a bold stance, sidestepping candidates that are already likely to be Emmy contenders – like “Empire,” “Game of Thrones,” and “Orange,” all of which rank among our top seven Emmy contenders for Best Drama.
Instead, they picked “The Americans,” which has been on the outside looking in at the Emmys and is an underdog for Best Drama with 50/1 odds. The critics have thrown down the gauntlet. Will the TV academy pick it up?
Other top program winners were already Emmy favorites: “Bessie” for Best TV Movie, “Olive Kitteridge” for Best Limited Series, “Shark Tank” for Best Reality Show and “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” for Best Talk Show.
Similarly, some Critics’ Choice winners for acting probably didn’t need an extra Emmy push, like Jeffrey Tambor (Best Comedy Actor, “Transparent“), Allison Janney (Best Comedy Supporting Actress, “Mom“), Frances McDormand (Best Movie/Limited Actress, “Olive Kitteridge”) and Bill Murray (Best Movie/Limited Supporting Actor, “Olive Kitteridge”) – all considered locks for nominations, if not wins, at the Emmys.
But the critics went out on a limb in support of others, like Amy Schumer (“Inside Amy Schumer“), who surprised in the Comedy Actress race against Golden Globe champ Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin“). Schumer is a 33/1 underdog at the Emmys, but she may be peaking at the right time. She’s a media darling with a new season currently airing and a potential breakthrough film opening this summer: “Trainwreck,” directed by Judd Apatow.
Also getting a much-needed boost is T.J. Miller, a surprise Comedy Supporting Actor champ for “Silicon Valley.” It sometimes takes an extra year or two for supporting actors to be noticed by the Emmys once their show gets on their radar – consider Adam Driver in “Girls” and Tony Hale in “Veep,” both Emmy-nominated for the first time in the second seasons of their shows – so Miller might also be poised for a breakthrough, but we’re giving him 100/1 odds at the Emmys.
The biggest come-from-behind Emmy victory would be Syfy’s “Face Off,” the little reality-competition show that could, winning that Critics’ Choice race against behemoths like “The Amazing Race” and “The Voice.” There is precious little turnover in the Emmys’ reality contest, so the critics’ seal of approval could now give voters another option if they want to deviate from the usual suspects.
The big question, of course, is whether the change in the Critics’ Choice calendar can lend the kudos as much influential heft as their film critic counterparts enjoy at the start of Oscar season. They just gave the TV academy plenty to think about. Time will tell if they were listening.
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