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Since debuting, Boardwalk Empire has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics. On the review aggregator website Metacritic, the first season scored 88/100 and the second season scored 81/100, both indicating "universal acclaim." For its first and second seasons, The American Film Institute named Boardwalk Empire one of the ten "best television programs of the year".
David Hinkley of the New York Daily News awarded the series five stars, saying, "Watching HBO's new 'Boardwalk Empire' is like sitting in your favorite tavern and hearing someone say, 'Drinks are on the house.' Friends, it does not get much better." Paige Wiser of the Chicago Sun-Times called it "... an event not to be missed," and praised Buscemi in particular, calling his performance "fascinating."
TV Guide's Matt Roush praised the partnership of Scorsese and Winter, saying it "... brilliantly marries Martin Scorsese's virtuosic cinematic eye to Terence Winter's panoramic mastery of rich character and eventful story," and finished his review by stating, "It's the most purely—and impurely—enjoyable storytelling HBO has delivered in ages, like a movie that you never want to end."
Variety's Brian Lowry praised the show for returning network HBO to top form, saying, "This is, quite simply, television at its finest, occupying a sweet spot that—for all the able competition—still remains unique to HBO: An expensive, explicit, character-driven program, tackling material no broadcast network or movie studio would dare touch ... For those wondering when the channel would deliver another franchise to definitively put it on top of the world, Ma, the wait is over: Go directly to 'Boardwalk.'"
Roberto Bianco from USA Today said in his review that Boardwalk Empire was "Extravagantly produced, shockingly violent and as cold and hard as ice, Boardwalk Empire brings us back to the world's former playground at the start of Prohibition—and brings HBO back to the forefront of the TV-series race."
The second season received widespread acclaim. Verne Gay from Newsday stated that "Mad Men, of course, remains the King of the Emmys, while 'Empire' nailed the equally prestigious Golden Globe for best drama last winter. But Sunday begins to build the case for 'Empire,' and build it convincingly." Matt Roush of TV Guide stated "This is a gorgeous piece of storytelling that requires and rewards patience."
Awards and nominations
On July 14, 2011, Boardwalk Empire was nominated for 18 Emmy Awards that included Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Steve Buscemi) and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Kelly Macdonald).
Boardwalk Empire won a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Writing in a New Series and was nominated for Best Writing in a Drama Series. In addition, the show won a Golden Globe for best Dramatic Series, Buscemi won Best Actor in Dramatic Series and MacDonald was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television. The cast won the Screen Actor's Guild Award for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series, while Steve Buscemi won the Screen Actor's Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series and Martin Scorsese won the Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series. Boardwalk Empire was in The American Film Institute's Top Ten List for TV in 2010.
... I say yes.
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