When I left the office last night, the next round of Hulu's Best in Show competition was shaping up to have an obvious narrative: popular hits vs. critically-adored cult favorites. In one bracket, we would have "Community," which had the only easy victory of round 3 over "New Girl," vs. "Modern Family," which had beaten out "Archer" by the slimmest of margins. In the other bracket, we would have "Sons of Anarchy," which held on for a tight win over "Game of Thrones," versus "Breaking Bad," which had eked out a see-saw battle with "The Walking Dead." I made my picks, emailed my blurbs to Hulu, and went home to my family.
But the third round wasn't technically over yet, and "The Walking Dead" showrunner Glen Mazzara — a Twitter newcomer who's quickly learned how to leverage social media from his old "Shield" colleague Kurt Sutter — kept stumping for votes, and by the time dinner was finished, "Walking Dead" had slipped ahead again, and stayed there until the voting closed.
So not only did the easy narrative go away — as I note in my Hulu blurbs, "Walking Dead" and "Sons" have a lot in common ("Shield" alums, huge cable hits, uneven recent seasons) — but so did what seemed like two easy picks for me. I stuck with "Community" on the comedy side, and wavered for a while before deciding that the two best scenes of "Walking Dead" season 2 (the barn massacre and the showdown at the bar) were better than the best moments of "Sons" season 4.
If I still had my weighted vote from last year, we'd be seeing "Community" vs. "Archer" and "Sons" vs. "Breaking Bad" right now, but this contest shouldn't be about my tastes, but what the fans want. I'm assuming "Community" will advance to the finals, but you should never underestimate how many people watch and love "Modern Family." The drama match-up seems like a toss-up, and I'm going to be curious to see if Sutter and Mazzara stay relentless in their get out the vote message or ease up now that they're facing friends.
So go vote if you want, and we'll be here next week to discuss the final match-up.