Vulture wrapped up its week-long presentation of the Vulture TV Awards today, naming “Mad Men” best show, “The Americans” best drama and “Inside Amy Schumer” the best comedy. (Why “Mad Men” is the best show but not the best drama is a distinction critic Matt Zoller Seitz explains in his remarks.) If you follow Seitz, Margaret Lyons, and the site’s other TV writers, many of the choices won’t come as a surprise, but the write-ups are typically excellent, and they’ve drafted a dream team of TV-industry writers to select winners in some of the more idiosyncratic categories. “Mad Men’s” casting directors name “The Americans'” Holly Taylor the best child actor on TV — Kiernan Shipka was among the nominees, but they weren’t allowed to pick her; “Parks and Recreation’s” Mike Schur argues that “Justified” has the most quotable dialogue; and “Black-ish’s” Kenya Barris calls “The Jinx’s” finale the year’s best plot twist. Industry reporter Josef Adalian argues that John Oliver is the most important person on TV, vaulting over Shonda Rhimes and Netflix’s Reed Hastings. Here’s a rundown of some of the more standard categories, with excerpts from Seitz’s essays.
Best Show: “Mad Men”
All of the episodes, even the ones I don’t especially like, are inexhaustibly detailed: packed with comic and dramatic moments; period-accurate clothing and hairstyles and music; imaginative, hilarious, and often deeply moving performances; and screenwriting that depicts the complexities and contradictions of the human personality with more insight and empathy than any American series in recent memory.
Best Drama: “The Americans”
No U.S. drama is more exactingly calibrated than this blue-gray chamber piece about Soviet infiltrators posing as suburban American travel agents. Every scene, line, cut, and performance moment reinforces the characters’ emotional journeys within the episode and the season.
Best Comedy: “Inside Amy Schumer”
It has polemic elements, but the show itself isn’t a polemic. It’s a blast from the id, filled with sketches that seem to be going in one direction but then pivot again and again, often ending with conceptual detonations. Nobody is safe from the writing staff’s withering gaze, even women who adopt rescue dogs and sound a tad martyrlike, or inadvertently confessional, as they tell the animals’ stories.
Best Drama Performer, Male: André Holland, “The Knick”
Best Comedy Performer, Female: Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, “Broad City”
Best Comedy Performer, Male: Jaime Camil, “Jane the Virgin”
Best Writing: “Mad Men”
Best Direction: Steven Soderbergh, “The Knick”
Best Series Finale: “Mad Men”
Best New Drama: “Transparent”
Best New Comedy: “Black-ish”
Best Child Actor: Holly Taylor, “The Americans”
Best Episode: “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer,” “Inside Amy Schumer”