'Fargo' & 'Better Call Saul' win HitFix's 4th Annual Television Critics Poll
"Fargo" was an easy winner in both last year's overall poll and new series poll, and it finished more than 100 points ahead of this year's second-place finisher (and FX channel-mate) "The Americans."
With "Fargo" ineligible in the new shows poll, since we're treating it, "American Horror Story," "True Detective," et al as continuing series, AMC's "Better Call Saul" handily finished first there, a throwback to when "Breaking Bad" won the first two years of the critics poll.
The methodology, as usual: we asked several dozen of the top TV critics (52 of whom, myself included, were able to participate this year) to give us two ranked lists: their 10 best overall shows, and their 10 best new shows, with the top choice in each list getting 10 points, the next getting 9, etc., etc.
Even with the abundance of choice in television at the moment, and all the TV critic grumbling that comes along with it, some consensus was easier to come by than others. "Fargo" got 17 first place votes, and appeared on 40 of the 52 ballots, while "Saul" (which finished 5th on the overall list) got 13 first place votes and appeared on 44 of 52 ballots. Looking at the overall top 10, there's a big gap between "Fargo" and "Americans," then another big gap between third place "Mad Men" and "Transparent" (which finished fourth even though season 2 won't debut til Friday; thank/blame screener privilege), then another big plunge between "The Leftovers" at 7 and "Mr. Robot" at 8, and between "Mr. Robot" and "The Jinx" at 9.
As I noted when publishing my own top 10 list yesterday, the most common refrain accompanying the ballots was a lament about how hard it was to choose only 10 and frustration over all the shows left absent. "Broad City" finished 10th on last year's list, but dropped all the way to 47th this year; it would have been my 11th place show, but that and a nickel will get you five cents with our methodology. (We've talked about expanding the ballots next year, and will figure out if it's logistically feasible.)
Because of that process, it renders the rankings past 25 or so relatively arbitrary, but here are some odds and ends of note:
* "The Jinx" was the first non-fiction show to finish in the top 10 overall list over the four years of the poll.
* "House of Cards" was in the top 10 a couple of years ago, and 35th last year, and didn't get a single vote this time. Ditto "Downton Abbey," which was in the top 10 in the poll's first year but has seen its support vanish over time. The biggest year-to-year plummet, unsurprisingly, was "True Detective," which finished 5th last year, appearing on 29 ballots, and this year got a lone 9th place vote.
* "Veep" and "The Leftovers" both jumped into the top 10 after finishing 21st and 22nd, respectively, last year, with "Leftovers" appearing on 19 ballots (up from only 7 last year). The biggest jump, though, has to be from "BoJack Horseman," which didn't get a single overall vote last year (though it appeared on a trio of new show ballots, including mine) and finished 12th overall, only a few points behind "Veep."
* A trio of shows got only one vote, but for first place: Logo's "Cucumber," Sundance's "The Returned," and, on the new show's ballot, Acorn's "Detectorists." (The latter two come from the wonderfully idiosyncratic ballot from the LA Times' Robert Lloyd.)
* Netflix had no shows in the top 10 overall, but 5 in the top 25, 9 shows overall, and 3 of the top 10 new shows, with "Master of None" finishing second to "Saul." HBO led all channels with number of shows receiving at least one overall vote, with 12.
* At 14, "The Good Wife" was unsurprisingly the highest-ranked broadcast network show, with "Empire" and "Jane the Virgin" also finishing in the top 20. "Empire" and "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" both finished in the new show top 10.
* Jon Stewart and David Letterman got a few farewell votes, "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" did quite well (31st overall), and on the new shows list, "Late Show with Stephen Colbert," "Late Late Show with James Corden," and "The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore" all received votes. Trevor Noah's version of "The Daily Show" didn't get a vote on either list.
As always, you can click on the name of each show to see who voted for it, and in turn click on the name of each critic to see their full ballots. Lots to look at and parse and argue about, so head on over to the main poll and get to browsing.