The Television Critics Association Awards don’t get a lot of attention. Or, really, any attention. And that’s a shame. Because, for one thing, they were giving The Americans the love they deserve years before the Emmys caught on. Also, they’ve put John Oliver and now Samantha Bee in the appropriate category: News and Information, right alongside other Very Important History Makers like Ted Koppel and Ken Burns. But there’s one other element that sets the TCAs apart.
Rather than dividing the acting awards by gender, they simply present an award for “Individual Achievement in Comedy” (Which went to Rachel Bloom this year) and “Individual Achievement in Drama” (Sarah Paulson).
On a basic level, the division of acting awards by gender doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The Golden Globes would never give out a Best Female Director or Best Lady Writer award. Why is the performance of an actor a different species than that of an actress?
However, I’m definitely not saying all groups should change their categories. Even though it’s awesome to see Sarah Paulson and Courtney B. Vance’s performances listed alongside each other, and even though both awards this year went to women, it’s still, historically, harder for women to get noticed for their work when presented alongside men. A separate Oscars category for Female Directors would be an insult, but we’ve all moved past thinking the dearth of female winners is because of an actual lack of contenders, right?
But this is the third year in a row that a woman has won the Achievement in Comedy award (Amy Schumer and Julia Louis-Dreyfus won the last two years) and over the last few years, Drama has been pretty split. So maybe the TCAs are leading the way to a world in which the work of female performers actually can be viewed objectively. Wouldn’t that be a nice place to live?
If you’re curious, here are the rest of the TCA Awards winners form this weekend’s ceremony (See nominees here):
—Program of the Year: The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
—Outstanding New Program: Mr. Robot
—Outstanding Achievement in Drama: The Americans
—Outstanding Achievement in Comedy: black-ish
—Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Special:s The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
—Outstanding Achievement in News and Information Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
—Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming: Making a Murderer
—Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming: Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
—Career Achievement Award: Lily Tomlin
—Heritage Award: The Mary Tyler Moore Show