Are we ignoring potential major comic actresses in the Comedy Emmy Tracker categories?
On this week’s Water Cooler Podcast, the AwardsDaily TV team took a look at the leading candidates in the Comedy Emmy races. As ranked on the Emmy Tracker, we talked a lot about the front-runners and, more importantly, the positions that needed to be filled by series and actors who weren’t eligible this year. It’s kind of exciting this year as we have more vacancies that in years past, which gives the Television Academy the ability to shake things up a bit.
Now, common logic tells us that the Emmys like the rerun contenders. There are probably a few reasons why that is. First, popular voting bodies like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Television Academy often feel like they’re honoring their best friends. It pays to be known and liked in Hollywood. People like to vote for those nominees to whom they have a connection. That’s not to diminish the winners, really, but it is a fact that newcomers have to overcome.
Second, there are just so many goddamn television shows on the air. It’s something like 1,400 shows, all-in. How could working actors and crafts persons possibly watch enough shows to take in the variety television is currently offering. That’s why your Modern Family tended to repeat wins. That’s why Veep is a great bet to repeat. It’s why Silicon Valley and likely Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt will be repeat nominees. And, unfortunately, it’s probably why critically acclaimed, near-indie series like Broad City won’t factor into the 2016 Emmy nominations. It doesn’t make it right, but who has time to watch all of that great television?
So, assuming last year’s nominees who are eligible to repeat this year do so, then there are vacant slots still to be filled, particularly in the Comedy Actress categories. So, how deeply does Emmy go to fill them? Will they reach out to the tried and true nominees like Lena Dunham or Melissa McCarthy? Or will recent buzz around some news faces catapult one of them into the nominee’s circle?
Here are a few of the potential previously unranked contenders (both previous nominees and never-nominated) and where they fit in with the AwardsDaily TV Emmy Tracker.
- The Big Bang Theory‘s Mayim Bialik somehow fell off my radar when constructing the Emmy Tracker. That was a big oversight for two reasons. First, she was a part of last year’s Supporting Actress insanity with a whopping eight nominations, so there’s clearly a quadrant of support out there for the actress. Second, Megan rightly reminded us on the podcast that this was the year Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Amy (Bialik) finally had sex. It wasn’t just that they had sex, but the episode was handled with an appropriate mixture of sweetness and comic timing that makes for perfect Emmy fodder. OK, one more… She hasn’t missed out on a nomination since her first nomination for the role back in 2012. There’s really no way she’s out again. Emmy Tracker: Upgrade.
- Black-ish‘s Jenifer Lewis missed out on a nomination for the series last year, but her role as the go-to comedy genius of the series has been elevated in season two. I’m thinking of two great episodes for her in particular. First, “Hope,” the Very Special Episode where the Johnson family deals with the growning police brutality crisis in America, nearly drowned in well-intended but ultimately off-balance dramatic balance. Lewis pops moreso than normal in the episode, undoubtedly high on Emmy viewing lists, by providing truly bizarre comic highlights as she recounts her struggle to survive past riots. Second, this week’s “Daddy Dre-Care” gave her the chance to play a sick Ruby, delirious with fever but still conscious enough to hurl insults at Tracee Ellis Ross’s Bow. There are several great moments between the two actresses as they support each other impeccably. Emmy Tracker: Upgrade.
- It could be argued that Amy Landecker (Transparent) comes into her own in season two. In fact, after recently re-watching the season, it nearly feels more like Sarah Pfefferman’s story than it does Maura’s (Jeffrey Tambor) as the season progresses. As of print, I’m not 1oo percent sure in which category Amazon is pushing her. It’s likely to be deemed a supporting performance, but, as fans of the series will tell you, Amy Landecker’s season two role is more of a lead role. She has an amazing character arc that carries gracefully through the season. She’s the growing emotional core of the series. Unfortunately, the category confusion could ultimately hurt her chances for recognition. Until there is a consolidation around a specific category for her, she’s likely left an also-ran. That may be the saddest omission on nomination morning. Emmy Tracker: Neutral (for now).
- The Real O’Neals just received a major vote of confidence from ABC with a season two renewal. After a shaky start to season one, the second chance may be the ultimate victory for the series. Martha Plimpton has the tricky role of the deeply Catholic mother shamed by her family and newly outed gay son. Is this a role that will resonate with voters? History tells Emmy likes Plimpton enough to give her a look: she’s received three nominations in her career, winning one for Guest Actress in a Drama Series for The Good Wife. But The Real O’Neals isn’t a perfect show, and Plimpton (while always great) isn’t given a really voter-friendly role here. I don’t think this one is good enough to merit consideration over a host of better positioned actresses. Emmy Tracker: Downgrade.
- So that finally brings us to the show that has captured the internet’s significant admiration: Comedy Central’s Broad City and its two leads Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. The series isn’t highly rated, but it’s absolutely watched by the right people. Critics certainly love it, consistently showering its third season with praise. Then why aren’t the two actresses stronger contenders? Aside from South Park and Inside Amy Schumer, Comedy Central hasn’t really proven to be a massive Emmy contender, and it’s 50/50 on how much campaigning they’re willing to do for smaller returns. Ultimately, it may be a case of vote splitting as Emmy voters fail to coalesce around a single nominee. The Critics’ Choice voters have rallied around Illana Glazer for the past two years. Does she finally have a leg up this year? The “Burning Bridges” episode, where Ilana loses Lincoln, is already gaining steam as a worthy example of her comedy talents. Emmy Tracker: Upgrade.