The announcement of nominations for something called the Broadcast TV Journalists Association Awards led me on a search to find out exactly what the difference is between this and the many other, pre-existing awards. I finally found an explanation of the group, and a list of some of its members, here. As the name implies, it’s not so much a critics’ association as an association for U.S. journalists who cover TV day-to-day on television, online, and elsewhere – TV reporters, TV gossip columnists, and whatever Ain’t It Cool is doing at this point.
But the nominations do overlap a lot with what we might think of as critical (as opposed to industry) taste. FX and AMC get a lot of love from this group – including Archer, a show that is Adult Swim meets Arrested Development and which has therefore developed one of the more passionate online cults – and so, of course, do Community and Parks & Recreation, which have not yet managed to gain much Emmy recognition. Fringe’s likelihood of getting major Emmy nominations is still pretty low, but the BTJA Awards nominated it for best Drama and the major acting awards for the two critical favourites, John Noble and Anna Torv (who has finally erased all charges of nepotism). So these nominations don’t leave out as many of the important series as the Emmys do every year.
While some shows and networks that are loved by the Emmys are unloved by these nominators. Showtime half-hours get tons of Emmy love, whereas none of them got a Best Comedy nomination here. Showtime gets a lot of Emmy nominations based partly on its incredible promotional apparatus, which brings a lot of its shows to the attention of industry members; TV journalists in the U.S. get bombarded with promotional material all year long from every network, so it’s quite possible that Showtime’s constant promotion of its shows could hurt, not help it with this group. Whereas FX has trouble getting a lot of Emmy nominations because it’s not a big-budget operation, but the head of FX, John Landgraf, is famous for his openness with the media and his willingness to talk directly to reporters and critics about what he’s doing. So that personal touch helps the FX shows get recognized by TV reporters, though it may not help them at the Emmys (Justified may have a chance this year, but the FX half-hour shows probably don’t).