Awards Season for Us Common Folk: TV

Even more so than my post on Movie Awards, you’ll find my awards have categories the Emmys don’t ever grant. Like the Academy Awards, the Emmys aren’t really interested in giving awards to crowd pleasers or cult favorites. Most of the awards go to a handful of cable dramas with the sort of ratings any network would consider abysmal. I’m not saying that these shows aren’t good. Some of them are excellent, but there’s a lot more TV out there that deserves to be recognized.

Before I begin, I should note that while I watch way more TV than is probably healthy, I have not watched the following shows: Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Orange is the New Black, The Walking Dead, Homeland, The Good Wife, Girls, Veep. I’m still in the first season of Game of Thrones. I can’t nominate what I haven’t seen, so no need to fill the comments section with impassioned arguments for why Breaking Bad is the best show ever made.

Best Comedy: We watch a lot of comedy in our house, so this is a category with stiff competition. I thought there would be even more with what looked like a lot of good new comedies coming in last fall. Unfortunately, most of them turned out to be duds.

  • Parks & Recreation: Ron Swanson is THE BEST. This show wasn’t great in its first season and a half, but it’s been on fire since late in season two. If you never gave it a second chance, you owe it to yourself to give it another look.
  • The Mindy Project: This is another one that I didn’t find that funny at the beginning. It found its footing about halfway through last season, and ever since has been wonderfully clever and hysterical. I’ve been surprised how resistant people have been to give this show a second chance. It is the most consistently funny show I watch now.
  • Modern Family: Still a classic, although I don’t feel it’s been quite as good as normal. It’s hard to sustain that level of amazing.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Much like with Modern Family, I don’t feel like Big Bang is doing anything cutting edge, but they do it really well.
  • Brooklyn-Nine-Nine: The only newbie of the bunch, and I’m as shocked as you are that it’s here. I didn’t have high expectations for this, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. By the same people who do Parks & Rec, and they are doing miles better in their first season. This ensemble cast is already good.


Winner: The Mindy Project. Not only is it laugh until you cry funny, but Mindy is smart and original.

Best Drama: Other than Downton, all the other contenders were new shows in 2013—impressive. Also of note, none of them are made by one of the major American networks. I guess there might be something to the idea that more episodes can water down plot. The most episodes any of these nominees had was 13.

  • House of Cards: This Netflix political drama will probably make you more cynical about life, and certainly it isn’t one you should watch with kids, but it is very good. Even rarer, I didn’t see where it was going.
  • The Americans: I was late to the party on this FX show about KGB spies living in the US in the 80s. Now I can’t wait for season two to start next week. If you want to catch up, Amazon Prime has last season. It’s a fascinating piece of history, and one of the few dramas both my husband and I both like.
  • Broadchurch: Fox is remaking this BBC America drama about a small town solving the murder of a 13-year-old boy. Do yourself a favor and watch the original. I can’t imagine Fox will be able to match what I saw unfold on my screen. I’ve never seen such a raw picture of grief. It’s not easy to watch, and I certainly wouldn’t fault anyone for not wanting to try it, but it is amazing television.
  • Downton Abbey: Another one that was hard to watch last season, but it was good TV. How else could the death of a character depress you for weeks?
  • Orphan Black: Tatiana Maslany should have won all the Emmys for her performance as a handful of clones in this twisty BBC America show. I love a show where I frequently scream, “What!” at the screen.


Winner: House of Cards.  Always the bridesmaid but never the bride, House of Cards was nominated again and again but never won anything. It takes the cake for me, though.

Best Soap: Writing a soap well isn’t as easy as throwing in a love triangle and hoping for the best. I love me a good soap, but this year has been disappointing. Like the new crop of comedies, the pilots in this category were largely disappointing and old favorites have fallen off the rails—I’m looking at you, Revenge.

  • Scandal: I have usually bypassed Shonda Rhimes shows, but this one has me hooked. I’d probably watch just for Kerry Washington’s wardrobe, but the insane high speed plotting is also fun.
  • Reign: This show is historically ridiculous, but I don’t care. It’s another one I’d probably watch just for the scenery and wardrobe, but they also manage to make Scandal’s plotting look slow.
  • Hart of Dixie: HofD is the most lighthearted of all the shows I’d classify as a soap, and the most amusing. That’s not an easy tone to take, and I feel they are still doing it well. I do miss Lemon’s scheming, though. Surely Jaime King’s maternity leave is almost up?

reign poster

Winner: Reign. Going into last fall, I would have sworn nothing could unseat Scandal, but Reign has done it. They both record on Thursday, but I always watch Reign first.

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy: This has become a surprisingly crowded field of contenders. J.J. Abrams and his Lost cohorts seem to be putting out a couple pilots a year now, and the CW has almost become Syfy II.

  • Arrow: I have to keep reminding myself that Arrow is only in its second season. It had one of the most impressive first seasons I’ve ever seen, which put it on solid footing for this year.  Laurel’s still a hot mess, but otherwise the show is leading with its great characters.
  • Revolution: As a Supernatural fan, I told my friends watching this show that creator Eric Kripke is a believer in the long game. Give him some time, and you’ll end up really loving the characters and be amazed where he’ll take you. I don’t know if anyone but me is still watching this show, but it has been so good this year. Not only is Charlie far less annoying, but Monroe is amazing, and the storylines have been more interesting now that no one really cares about the lights.
  • Supernatural: When Kripke left the show after its fifth season, I won’t lie; it got pretty bad. I watched seasons six and seven, but they were painful at times. Last year Jeremy Carver (one of Kripke’s original team) returned as show runner and thankfully corrected the sinking ship. 2013 was one of the best years Supernatural has had with the Men of Letters and Falling Angels storylines.
  • The Originals: Normally I’d have The Vampire Diaries as a nominee here, but TVD just hasn’t been as good since they lost their best villains—the Originals. I’ve been able to be patient as TVD fixes its quality issues, though, because The Originals spin-off is fantastic. Remember season 3 TVD when you had to know what happened next? That’s what The Originals is like now.
  • Orphan Black: I’ve already mentioned the premise of this sci-fi masterpiece under the drama category. This is the only one in this category that I thought was good enough to go head to head with the other drama nominees. It’s not just good genre TV, it’s just plain good.


Winner: Orphan Black. This is my favorite category, and the one I watch the most shows in, so you’d think it would be the toughest to decide. Not so. Orphan Black blew the competition away.

Best Procedural: I wanted to make this its own category because these never win anything, but they always top the most watched shows lists. Also, there is an art to writing these well. I have watched and abandoned many over the years (NCIS, Bones, Blue Bloods, The Mentalist, Hawaii 5-0), so I know there’s a delicate balance of just the right amount of case of the week versus overarching storylines to develop your characters.

  • Elementary: As an avid Sherlock fan, I was skeptical of this show, and not just because CBS is the king of taking a great concept and then eventually killing it with boredom. However, I have loved how Johnny Lee Miller has explored Sherlock’s vulnerability, and the cases continue to be intriguing as well.
  • The Blacklist: The cases can border on creepy at times, and I think they need to focus a bit more on their over arching storylines, but James Spader is so brilliant that I’ll forgive them a few fumbles.

elementary poster

Winner:  ElementaryBlacklist is still finding it’s footing, while Elementary is a solid performer week in and week out.

Awards Season for Us Common Folk

It’s that time of year again. Every other week you see new pictures of a celebrity hugging a statuette thanking their “team.”  If you’re like me, you probably don’t care about their speeches, but you do want to see what they’re wearing, and there’s only a 10% chance you’ve seen the movies they won for. I faithfully watch the Academy Awards every year (yes, even last year when Seth McFarlane hosted), although sometimes I wonder why. I don’t care about cinematography, documentaries, short films, or whoever they’re giving the honorary Oscar to, and on average I’ve usually only seen about two of the best picture nominees. I think most of the time the prize goes to films Hollywood thinks are good for us, whether or not we actually like them.

So, I’ve decided to do a series of awards here, with categories I think would be interesting to a broader range of people, and nominate movies, TV shows, and books I think were flat out entertaining. I don’t care if they were high art. Sometimes the nominees were very well done, but other times they were just plain fun. Granted, it’s limited to what I watched or read in 2013, but I do consume a lot of media.

First up—Movies! I like what the Golden Globes does separating comedies and dramas, so I’ll follow their lead. However, I’m going to nominate real comedies, not dramas with a few funny lines. I nominate as many films as I think deserved it in each category.

Best Drama:

drama nominees

  • Mud: Had to catch this one on DVD as it wasn’t widely released, but it was worth it. The kids in this film are incredible and make way better decisions than any of the adults.
  • Gravity: I’m cheap, but I shelled out the cash to see this in 3D IMAX and it was worth every penny.
  • American Hustle: Another great film by David O. Russell, but I don’t agree with some that say it was better than Silver Linings Playbook. Best supporting acting award should go to Amy Adams’ double stick tape.
  • Saving Mr. Banks: Did I know they were playing my heartstrings as they were doing it? Absolutely. Did I love this movie and cry anyway? Of course.

 Winner: Gravity. Not only was this movie visually stunning and suspenseful, but it also packed an emotional punch. It was the whole package.

Best Comedy: A special award should go to Steve Carell, who starred in three of my five nominees.

comedy nominees

  • The Heat: Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock together was enough to have me gasping for air in this cop buddy comedy.
  • Anchorman 2: There was so much stuffed into this sequel, I think I need to see it again to catch all of the jokes. Those Dodge Durango commercials were a nice bonus, too.
  • Despicable Me 2: I suppose the kids find the minions funny, but really all of the jokes are for the adults.
  • The Way, Way Back: This is more of a dramedy, so I wasn’t sure which category to put it in, but I laughed so much and they had so many great comedic actors in it, I put it here. Another one that wasn’t widely released, but well worth the DVD rental. Sam Rockwell shines in one of his few non-villain roles.
  • Much Ado About Nothing: Shakespeare in this category? Joss Whedon’s black and white update was so funny I actually rewound parts of the DVD so I could watch them again.

Winner: The Way, Way Back. Normally I’d give this to the movie that packed the most laughs per minute of run time, because I really admire that. If I got to a comedy, I want to laugh, not be mildly amused. However, I did laugh a good amount and this was just one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. The Academy was nuts not nominating it for best picture. Comedy snobs.

Best Action Flick: I made this a category because other than for sound or sound mixing, these never get nominated for anything, and they bring me some of the most joy all year.

action nominees

  • Iron Man 3: The franchise bravely decided to tell a new story instead of repeating the same formula and for the first time showed a vulnerable Tony Stark.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness: Even better than the first outing, with scenes that made you bust a gut one minute and gasp at the alien worlds the next. Benedict Cumberbatch was outstanding as Khan.
  • Now You See Me: Not very many people I know saw this one, but I really enjoyed it. We ended up seeing it both in theaters and then renting it again to urge friends to see it. It had a great cast led by Jesse Eisenberg.
  • Man of Steel: Audiences and critics seem to be split on the Superman reboot, but I loved it. They didn’t tread the same ground as before (growing up in Kansas, the Daily Planet), but instead focused on his alien roots and his isolation as an adult. Also, Amy Adams played the first Lois Lane I’ve ever liked.
  • World War Z: I didn’t have high expectations for this since it had a lot of trouble in production. In the end, they pulled it off. It was crazy suspenseful and highly entertaining.

Winner: This was really difficult to call, but I think I’m going to have to go with Star Trek Into Darkness over Iron Man 3. Robert Downey, Jr. is always amazing, but Star Trek was an ensemble effort, so I’m going to give it to them.

Best Costumes/Production Design: I’m a girl, so I will watch a movie sometimes just because it looks pretty. Granted, that usually means a rental, but I feel like these were worth the $1.20 at Redbox to ooh and ahh at the spectacle.


  • The Great Gatsby: The story is a real downer, but boy is this movie gorgeous. The gowns, flowers, houses, cars, jewelry—everything is over the top amazing.
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: I haven’t actually seen this one yet (waiting for the rental), but I have seen the pictures. I’m not a big fan of kid on kid killing, but I do love those crazy costumes.

Winner: The Great Gatsby. I know I haven’t seen Hunger Games, but I don’t see how it’s going to top the eye candy of Gatsby.

Movie I Was Pleasantly Surpised By:


  • Warm Bodies: My husband really wanted to see this young adult zombie movie, and I have to say, it was heartfelt and funny.
  • Searching for Sonny: An indie that actually came out in 2011, but it’s a safe bet you’ve never heard of it. It stars alums from Veronica Mars, Friday Night Lights, and Heroes, which is why our group was interested in giving it a try. Because it didn’t have a big budget, they actually had to focus on an interesting story. What a novel idea!
  • Now You See Me, Much Ado About Nothing, Mud, World War Z, and The Way, Way Back could probably all also be contenders in this category, but as I have already put them in other categories, I won’t put them in contention again.

Winner: Warm Bodies. The message of this film might have been a bit corny, but I still appreciated it.

Movie That Didn’t Live Up to the Hype: So clearly this is more of a Razzie than an award, but I wanted you to be fairly warned about a few films I wish I hadn’t watched this year.

letdown nominees

  • The Internship: Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson together again for the first time since Wedding Crashers should have been epic. It wasn’t awful, but it just wasn’t funny, either.
  • This Is the End: We were hesitant to go see this. Rogen, Franco, Hill, and company can be hilarious, but sometimes they just descend into middle school crassness that isn’t even funny. The critics loved it, so we rented it. It was funny for twenty minutes, and then it just got horrible.
  • The Lone Ranger: This looked so good, and I like both Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. I really, really gave it the old college try. The story just wasn’t interesting, and it was way too long.
  • R.I.P.D.: I could kind of tell from the previews this wasn’t going to be great, but the husband really wanted to see it, so we rented it. It was Men in Black if MIB wasn’t funny and you didn’t care about either of the main characters. They took an interesting premise and Ryan Reynolds and still managed to bore me.
  • Pacific Rim: This was another one that had a lot of potential. I liked a lot of the ideas in this movie, but the execution of them made me simultaneously roll my eyes and put me to sleep. The large scale destruction of EVERYTHING went beyond comical and into sickening.

Winner, er Loser? This Is the End. All of these movies were pretty meh, but I wanted the hours of my life back with this one, and a full refund of my $1.20.

Up Next: TV Awards