Why Everybody’s a Winner at the TCA Awards

Matthew McConaughey TCA Awards
Courtesy of the TCA Awards

It’s not unusual for Television Critics Assn. Awards nominees to congratulate each other during the pre-ceremony reception, before any even nears the podium.

That’s because every nominee who shows up to the event is a winner.

Not in the strained, smile-for-the-cameras, “it’s an honor just to be nominated!” sense. The only people invited to the TCA Awards are those who have won. That also makes the TCA Awards one of the most laid-back ceremonies in the industry.

See more: Jane the Virgin’ Star to Emcee the TCA Awards

“There is no soliciting for the TCA Awards, which means the programs and people nominated stood out as the best in show for our critics among a long list of potential entries,” says TCA president Amber Dowling. “And because it’s not televised, there is a real intimacy to the awards that seems hard to come by these days with so many awards shows.”

The only mystery, at least for some of the nominees, is which of the awards they’ve won.

The winners of the 32nd annual TCA Awards will be revealed in a private evening ceremony held Aug. 6 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel as part of the group’s summertime press tour.

Hosted by “Jane the Virgin” star Jaime Camil, the TCA Awards exist to highlight what the group’s members consider to be the best performances and series TV had to offer during the 2015-16 season. Nominees were selected from a variety of categories, including comedy, drama, news and information, reality, youth and TV movies.

Winners are determined by voting members of the Television Critics Assn., an organization comprising more than 200 journalists hailing from across the United States and Canada.

“Our members report almost exclusively on television, making them true experts with their fingers on the pulse,” Dowling says.

The ceremony also gives a Heritage Award to a program that has had a major cultural or social impact, as well as an award for career achievement in recognition of an individual’s contribution to the medium.

Granted, some aspects of the TCAs are similar to other industry awards. For example, TCA members gave several nods to USA Network’s multiple Emmy nominee “Mr. Robot,” as well as Golden Globe winner Rachel Bloom, star of The CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”

Where the TCA’s nominations differ is in highlighting series other voting bodies are likely to miss or dismiss: It put low-rated comedy “You’re the Worst” in contention for achievement in comedy alongside past Emmy winner and TCA winner “Veep.”

“We take pride in recognizing shows and talent that are often forgotten about during the Emmy race,” Dowling says.
What’s more, “the winners aren’t separated by gender,” Dowling says. “There are no best female or male categories, only overall drama and comedy categories that truly celebrate the best of the best.”

That means past TCA winner Bryan Cranston won’t just have his performance in HBO’s “All the Way,” measured against those of “Mr. Robot’s” Rami Malek or “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story’s” Courtney B. Vance. He’s also squaring off against Vance’s co-star Sarah Paulson, as well as Keri Russell of “The Americans.”

The TCA Awards ceremony also is a rare space where actors, producers and the people who write about their work — sometimes harshly — can mingle freely and in the spirit of appreciating the medium. Numerous Hollywood A-
listers have attended in the past, including Tina Fey and Jon Stewart. Even legends such as Carol Burnett, Bob Newhart and Norman Lear showed up to claim their awards in person.

“You guys and ladies did shine a light on our show early on,” Matthew McConaughey said in 2014, while accepting an Individual Achievement in Drama trophy for his work on the first season of HBO’s “True Detective.” “You gave it recognition, you got the word spread, and it became a nice little phenomenon that people tuned into weekly. And y’all got that started.”