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'Atlanta' and 'Stranger Things' starting to get award nominations

This is posted on Saturday, November 19, 2016 by Rodney Ho on the AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

I've been covering television for the Atlanta Journal Constitution for more than 11 years. Since 2008, more than 100 TV shows have been shot in metro Atlanta once the state sweetened its tax credits to film production companies.

Until recently, the TV critics and Hollywood in general didn't give local shows much love.

Fortunately, things are looking up now.

This past summer, two Atlanta-based shows embraced by critics and viewers alike hit the airwaves: FX's appropriately named "Atlanta" and Netflix's quirky homage to 80s films "Stranger Things."

The Critics' Choice Awards, which air on December 11 on A&E, gave "Stranger Things" a Best Drama Series nomination. It's only the second show out of Atlanta to get that honor after Sundance's "Rectify" last year. It probably won't win since it's up against NBC's "This is Us," HBO's "Westworld," USA's "Mr. Robot," AMC's "Better Call Saul," HBO's "Game of Thrones" and Netflix's "The Crown." But it says a lot that it even got a nod.

FX's 'Atlanta" was nominated for Best Comedy Series. It's the first time an Atlanta-produced show has been in that category at least since 2008. It actually has a better shot at winning, up against ABC's "black-ish," Amazon's "Fleabag," ABC's 'Modern Family," HBO's 'Silicon Valley," Netflix's 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and HBO's 'Veep."

And Donald Glover, creator of Atlanta,' received a nomination for best actor in a comedy series, against Anthony Anderson ("black-ish"), Will Forte (Fox's "Last Man on Earth"), Bill Hader (IFC's "Documentary Now"), Patrick Stewart (Starz' "Blunt Talk") and Jeffrey Tambor (Amazon's "Transparent").

Until now, FX's "Archer" has been the king of the award hill in Atlanta, having taken home an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program this past year. And it's up for best animated program with the Critics Choice Awards as well.

The CW's "The Vampire Diaries" has won a few Teen Choice Awards but has never gotten much attention at the adult table. Sundance's "Rectify" did win a coveted Peabody Award and has received a few Critics' Choice nominations. BET's "Being Mary Jane" has taken home NAACP Image Awards.

Other scripted shows (e.g. "Drop Dead Diva," "Devious Maids," "Necessary Roughness," "Single Ladies," "Resurrection," "Constantine") simply lacked longevity, quality and/or buzz.

And though  "The Walking Dead" has been the most popular show among 18 to 49 year olds, it has never been nominated for a major category Emmy. (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who appeared in just a few minutes of the season 6 finale as bad guy Negan, received a best "guest performer" in a drama series in the Critics Choice Awards.)

The unscripted stuff ("Love and Hip Hop Atlanta," "Real Housewives of Atlanta") that pull in big ratings are not exactly award bait. But impressively, USA's "Chrisley Knows Best" is up for Critics' Choice "Best Unstructured Reality Series" Award against favorite "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" on CNN, "Deadliest Catch" on Discovery, "Ice Road Truckers" on History, "Intervention" on A&E and "Naked and Afraid" on Discovery.

And two films shot in Atlanta: HBO's "Confirmation" and NGC's "Killing Reagan" received nominations for best movie made for TV or limited series. Tim Matheson, who played Ronald Reagan, received a nomination, while Cynthia Nixon as Nancy Reagan and Kerry Washington as Anita Hill got nods as well. (Though come on, "People vs. O.J. Simpson" on FX has that one in the bag.).

Others with Atlanta ties nominated: Tituss Burgess (Athens) on "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" for best supporting actor in a comedy and RuPaul (grew up here) as best reality show host for "RuPaul's Drag Race," which he won an Emmy this past fall.




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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.