Analysis: WGA Awards nominations do well by drama, iffier by comedy

12.08.10 8 years ago 45 Comments

The Writers Guild of America announced their 2010 WGA Award nominations today. Fienberg has a recap of all the nominees, and after the jump, I have a few random observations on some of the nominees…

First, there are differences between the WGA Awards and the Emmys. Not only are they only voted on by the writers, but they cover the calendar year rather than the TV season, so you’ll see shows get celebrated that the Emmys rarely touch, and/or shows from last season competing with ones from this. Some thoughts:

• Per the WGA, the five best-written dramas on TV in 2010 were “Boardwalk Empire,” “Breaking Bad,” “Dexter,” “Friday Night Lights” and “Mad Men.” Perfectly happy with four of those five nominees (“FNL” has had better seasons, but it’s still great), but “Dexter” season four five has largely been a reminder that what makes that show interesting are the performances, not the writing.

• Not as wild about the nominee field for comedy series: “30 Rock,” “Glee,” “Modern Family,” “Nurse Jackie” and “The Office.” “30 Rock” has had a nice rebound this fall, and “Modern Family” is certainly deserving, but “The Office” has largely been a mess, “Nurse Jackie” isn’t one of the five best comedies on TV even if you don’t require a comedy to be funny, and even people who like “Glee” a lot more than I do haven’t been crazy about the episodes that aired in 2010. Would have loved to see “Parks and Rec” and/or “Community” in there, but they were as snubbed here as by the Emmys.

• I’d have to go back over “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword” episode of “Mad Men” to see if I felt that was the season’s best-written episode. Still, I’m incredibly amused that the WGA managed to nominate one of the three scripts this season that didn’t have Matt Weiner’s name on it.

• The Emmys have yet to recognize the great writing of “Breaking Bad,” but the WGA nominated one episode last year, and two this year: “I.F.T.” and “I See You” And like the Emmy voters, the WGA liked the “Lost” finale enough to nominate it.

• Of the two “30 Rock” episodes nominated, one was “When It Rains, It Pours,” the episode that almost singlehandedly restored my faith in the show, while the other was last spring’s “Anna Howard Shaw Day,” which I didn’t think much of. Also, “The Office” episode nominated was “,” which was the episode that inspired me to punt that show from the regular blog rotation.

• I like that the WGA has a category for new series, particularly in a year like this that had so many great rookies. Frustrated that “Terriers” was ignored here and elsewhere, but four of the five actual nominees – “Boardwalk Empire,” “Justified,” “Men of a Certain Age” and “Treme” – were among my favorite shows of 2010. I didn’t like fifth nominee “The Walking Dead” as much, particularly from a writing standpoint, but as with the Weiner thing, it’s kind of funny that the show’s writing staff got a nomination given all the alleged turmoil in that area.

Winners announced on February 5. These are a few of my thoughts. Yours?

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