‘Friday Night Lights,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ & ‘Mad Men’ win big at the TCA Awards

Senior Television Writer
08.06.11 12 Comments

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose: “Friday Night Lights” was named Program of the Year at this year’s Television Critics Association Awards.

“Friday Night Lights” won the night’s biggest prize, but other shows honored tonight included “Parks and Recreation,” “Mad Men,” “Modern Family” and “Game of Thrones,” among others.

This was the first TCA Award for “FNL” since it won for Outstanding New Program for its first season. It’s a show critics love, but it’s also been airing during a period of lots of instant-classic dramas. In fact, it wasn’t even named best drama by the critics this year, as that prize went to “Mad Men.”(*)

(*) Before everybody asks how this is possible, I will say two things: 1)The nominating and voting process is structured in a way that often leads to seemingly-odd results like this, and 2)Program of the Year isn’t necessarily viewed as the pure “best” show of the year. “Glee,” for instance, was named Program of the Year last year, and an argument could be made that it was deserved based on its impact on the culture, even though other shows won the comedy and drama series awards. Think of it as the never-ending argument in baseball over whether the MVP should go to the player with the best statistical season or to someone who filled a more nebulous definition of “valuable.”

“Mad Men” won for Outstanding Achievement in Drama, and Jon Hamm won his first Individual Achievement in Drama award – a result that will hopefully repeat itself at the Emmys this fall.

“Modern Family” won for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy(**), and that show’s Ty Burrell tied with “Parks and Recreation” co-star Nick Offerman – who also hosted this year’s TCA Awards – for the comedy individual award.

(**) And, yes, that’s the one result I strongly disagree with – less because of “Modern Family” than because “Parks and Rec” was nominated in that category – but that’s the way it goes when you participate in a group award. Not everyone’s taste is the same.

“Game of Thrones” was named our Outstanding New Program, while the Steven Moffat-written “Sherlock” update won the Oustanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials.

This was the TCA’s first year with a reality series award, which was won by “The Amazing Race” (just as “Race” kept winning that Emmy category after it was created). The National Geographic Channel documentary “Restrepo” – co-directed by Sebastian Junger and the late Tim Hetherington (who died while covering the civil war in Libya) – won for Outstanding Achievement in News and Information, while “Sesame Street” won the Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming award.

The TCA has two institutional history awards, one for individuals (Career Achievement Award), one for shows (Heritage Award). The former went to Oprah Winfrey, the latter to “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”

These results were embargoed until now (the ceremony should be wrapping up just as this publishes), and I’ll try to post some highlights from the event tomorrow.

UPDATE: And my highlights are here.

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