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‘Succession’ Won Big at the Critics Choice TV Awards, but So Did These Shows

Finally, Melanie Lynskey is getting what she deserves. (Awards.)

Jeremy Strong, J. Smith-Cameron, Scott Ferguson, Brian Cox, Nicholas Braun, and Kieran Culkin

Gilbert Flores for Variety

Entertainment critics and journalists are never short on opinions, but at the Critics Choice Awards, they really get to have their say. And speak they did at the 27th Annual Critics Awards, held at the Fairmount Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. This year even featured some international flair as stars in London — this year’s event fell on the same date as the BAFTA Film Awards — celebrated at festivities at the Savoy Hotel.

While many eyes were turned to the CCA Awards as the latest leg of the Oscar race, there was plenty to glean from the evening’s TV award winners, which alternated between already heavily-decorated honorees and fresh blood, anxious for introduction in the awards sphere.

Apple TV+ joy factory “Ted Lasso” was the biggest winner on the TV side of things, with Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, and the series itself all defending their CCA Award wins from last year, for comedy actor, supporting actress, and series, respectively. Emmy-winner Brett Goldstein also joined the fun this year, winning comedy supporting actor for his portrayal of cantankerous soccer veteran Roy Kent.

It’s easy to feel as though the “Ted Lasso” wins are just momentum from a tremendous awards run for its first season, it’s important to remember that all of the latest batch of CCA Award wins are for the second season of the series, which aired last year. While the pandemic might have indelibly altered the way we perceive time, it’s important to cling to what we once knew. It’s been more than six months since “Ted Lasso” Season 2 aired and, believe it or not, more than 18 months since Season 1 aired.

This is all important because if the CCA Awards are any indication, “Ted Lasso” currently remains the untouchable comedy frontrunner in the long-term awards conversation.

Pivoting to drama, HBO’s “Succession” handily nabbed the most awards, but the way the celebrated tale of familial financial feuding went about it was significantly different than in prior years. In its first season, the series was barely a blip on the radar with the CCA, with nominations for only drama series and Matthew Macfadyen in supporting actor. Even in its second season the show underperformed with CCA, earning just three nominations, again in drama series, Jeremy Strong in actor, and Sarah Snook in actress. That time, however, both “Succession” and Strong won their categories.

Kieran Culkin

Michael Buckner for Variety

Which brings us to this year, where the show earned an impressive eight nominations. (For comparison, the most nominated films of the year, “Belfast” and “West Side Story” had 11 nominations and CCA recognizes none of the craft categories in TV that the do for film.) The ceremony saw “Succession” win three categories, again winning drama series, with Kieran Culkin winning supporting actor and Snook winning supporting actress.

The show is still winning. And maybe more importantly, it’s winning new categories with different actors. It will surely face heavy competition as months pass but how the “Succession” actors fare during Emmy season will be something to watch.

Part of the reason it’ll be so fun to watch is because of another big winner from the CCA Awards: Netflix’s “Squid Game.”

While perhaps not as exciting as the night the series had at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the global phenomenon that is “Squid Game” made its voice heard with critics. It won (probably handily) the award for foreign language series and SAG Award winner Lee Jung-jae was again victorious in lead actor in a drama series, putting himself in position as a formidable foe in the awards sphere at contests to come.

All of this remains good news for the series itself, as each award won proves that the show’s hype is real and voters — and in this case, critics — are putting their money where their mouth is.

Melanie Lynskey

Michael Buckner for Variety

But to a certain extent, “Succession” wins, “Squid Game” wins, those are old hat. We’ve seen both of those before, with increasing frequency. Where this year’s CCA Awards truly broke ground was in lead actress in a drama series, where Melanie Lynskey took top honors for her performance on Showtime’s killer freshman drama “Yellowjackets.”

Lynskey’s win is huge not only for the perpetually under-appreciated actress, but also for the series itself which could use a little awards traction to keep it in the conversation. Plus, to be blunt, the most valuable aspect of the CCA Awards being a little unpredictable is the ability to make choices that are less conventional than other awards shows but just as deserving. And, let’s be honest, just more interesting, too.

Rounding out the big winners for the evening is HBO’s “The White Lotus” which earned the first two awards presented at the ceremony, trophies for Murray Bartlett and Jennifer Coolidge for supporting actor and supporting actress in a limited series. Lead actor in limited series went to Michael Keaton for Hulu’s “Dopesick,” and, combined with the dual “Lotus” wins, it seems as though the long reign of HBO’s “Mare of Easttown” is reaching its end. While the show did win limited series and lead actress for Kate Winslet, “Lotus” appears to be the early frontrunner to fill the gap that “Mare of Easttown” will leave behind once the beloved Winslet vehicle slips out of the eligibility window.

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