At its annual ceremony in Los Angeles, the Television Critics Association (of which I am a member) gave out the 2013 TCA Awards for outstanding service in the honorable field of television. TCA is a big group of varying tastes, so many years it’s hard to discern a pattern in the critics’ awards. But there was at least a bit of a theme this year: avenging the overlooked.
Thus Bunheads, lamentably cancelled by ABC Family, won the TCA award for children’s programming. (Yes, it may be a stretch, or at least limiting, to call it a children’s program, even if it’s split between teen and adult characters. But its voters, myself among them, saw this as Bunheads’ best shot at recognition.) Tatiana Maslany, ignored by the Emmys for her tour de force performance in Orphan Black, won for individual achievement in drama. (Not, note, “best actress”; for the TCA awards, men and women compete in the same categories.) And The Americans, also dissed by the Emmys, picked up the award for best new program.
In past years, I’ve said that I don’t always agree with many of the choices my colleagues make en masse. This year, though, I have to say, I pretty much agree with the field; even where my first choice didn’t win, I’m pretty well satisfied with the winner. Yes, there are some usual suspects in there, but generally deserving ones. (I’ll say it again, though, that even I — having attended TCAs for over a decade — still don’t have a handle on what distinguishes a “Program of the Year,” which this year went to Breaking Bad.)
Game of Thrones, Central Park Five, Louie, Parks and Recreation — they were either the class of their field this season or close enough not to argue. (I’d have given some hardware to Enlightened, which I voted for — but even in a critics’ organization, that was a long shot.) Career Achievement honoree Barbara Walters, as much flak as she draws for her celebrity interviews and for The View (from me as well), is a trailblazer for women in broadcast news and defined the celebrity interview format. Shark Tank is a prime example of breezy but sharp reality TV, gamifying the mysteries of entrepreneurship and valuing a business. (It’s also a rare example of genuinely good primetime family TV, at least for my family.) As for the Heritage Award for All in the Family, the only reasonable complaint might be what took us so long.
So as dull as it might be to say, I largely agree with the choices of the professional organization to which I belong. Yeah, I said it! But have a look at the full list of winners below, and let me know what you’d change:
• Individual Achievement in Drama: Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black, BBC America)
• Individual Achievement in Comedy: Louis C.K. (Louie, FX)
• Outstanding Achievement in News and Information: The Central Park Five (PBS)
• Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming: Shark Tank (ABC)
• Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming: Bunheads (ABC Family)
• Outstanding New Program: The Americans (FX)
• Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials: Behind the Candelabra (HBO)
• Outstanding Achievement in Drama: Game of Thrones (HBO)
• Outstanding Achievement in Comedy: (Tie) The Big Bang Theory (CBS) and Parks and Recreation (NBC).
• Career Achievement Award: Barbara Walters (ABC)
• Heritage Award: All in the Family (CBS)
• Program of the Year: Breaking Bad (AMC)