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Television critics' awards continue to snub (slap?) women with 'The Wire' and 'Mad Men' leading the nominations

June 4, 2008 |  3:41 pm

Fox TV may be No. 1 among viewers, but according to the Television Critics Assn., there is nothing on the network worth nominating for awards.

Paycaster HBO leads the pack for the annual TCA awards with 10 nods, including four for the final season of "The Wire." Perhaps this will be the year that this show, long touted by the critics, finally gets some awards love from them. They have long criticized the Emmy Awards for snubbing the gritty series, save for a sole writing nod in 2005, but they have done the same, with the show going 0 for 6 with the TCA.


Of course, the TV critics did the same with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and star Sarah Michelle Gellar, bemoaning the Emmys for not taking the show seriously but failing to recognize it themselves until after it went off the air. Then they gave it the heritage award —  a prize "The Wire" is up for this year, along with program of the year, drama series and individual achievement in drama (show creator David Simon).

With men making up a majority of the TCA membership, testosterone-driven programs like the Ken Burns WWII documentary "The War" — which picked up three nods, including program of the year — tend to dominate the nominations. Perhaps that explains why another critical darling — "Battlestar Galactica" — will leave the airwaves this year having been snubbed by the TCA. After all, the president in that sci-fi series is, egads, a woman (Mary McDonnell).

The other programs competing for the top prize are male-driven: "Mad Men," which is also up for drama series, new program and an individual nom for star Jon Hamm; "John Adams," which also contends for movie/mini-series and gets a nod for star Paul Giamatti; and "Lost," which found its way back into this category after being snubbed last year.

To be fair, two of the entries for best movie or mini-series are distinctly female-friendly — "Cranford" and "The Complete Jane Austen" —which both aired on PBS' "Masterpiece." However, that nod for "Austen" is odd given that this umbrella series included a showing of the decade-old version of "Pride and Prejudice" among its offerings.

While these period pieces showcase great actresses like Dames Judi Dench and Eileen Atkins, women still struggle to make it into the individual achievement races. This year, like last, only two women are competing for each of these prizes. Connie Britton ("Friday Night Lights") and Tina Fey ("30 Rock") return, joined by Glenn Close ("Damages") and Christina Applegate ("Samantha Who?") in the drama and comedy categories.

However, if the TCA track record is anything to go by, I wouldn't worry about writing an acceptance speech, ladies. Of the 22 awards bestowed so far for individual achievement in comedy or drama series, only three have gone to women: Jane Kaczmarek for "Malcolm in the Middle" in 2000 and 2001 and Edie Falco for "The Sopranos" in 2003.

This year, there is not a single woman among the five finalists competing for the career achievement award. That is not so surprising given that only two of the first 20 honorees were women — Lucille Ball (1989) and Angela Lansbury (1996). And with Carol Burnett having been honored in 2006 and Mary Tyler Moore last year, looks like Oprah Winfrey will have to wait till at least 2028 for her turn. Then the following year, the TCA could finally fete Barbara Walters, who will, no doubt, still be holding court on "The View" as she turns 100.

Winners will be announced July 19, two days after Emmy Awards nominations are made public. Luckily for the ladies, those kudos include just as many categories for them as they do for the fellas.

Program of the year
"John Adams"
"Mad Men"
"The War"
"The Wire"

Comedy series
"30 Rock"
"The Colbert Report"
"The Daily Show With Jon Stewart"
"Flight of the Conchords"
"The Office"

Drama series
"Friday Night Lights"
"Mad Men"
"The Wire"

Movies, miniseries and specials
"John Adams"
"Masterpiece: Cranford"
"Masterpiece: The Complete Jane Austen"
"The War"
"A Raisin in the Sun"

New program
"Breaking Bad"
"Flight of the Conchords"
"Mad Men"
"Pushing Daisies"

Individual achievement in comedy
Christina Applegate ("Samantha Who?")
Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock")
Stephen Colbert ("The Colbert Report")
Tina Fey ("30 Rock")
Ray Wise ("Reaper")

Individual achievement in drama
Connie Britton ("Friday Night Lights")
Glenn Close ("Damages")
Paul Giamatti ("John Adams")
Jon Hamm ("Mad Men")
David Simon ("The Wire")


Children's programming
"Curious George"
"Hannah Montana"
"Word Girl"
"Yo Gabba Gabba"

News and information
"Alive Day Memories"
"This American Life"
"Nimrod Nation"
"Ken Burns' The War"

Heritage award
"Saturday Night Live"
"Sesame Street"
"The Wire"

Career achievement
James Garner
Lorne Michaels
Bill Moyers
William Shatner
Mike Wallace