ABC’s Black-ish takes a socially conscious turn in season two. Will Emmy voters take notice?
The most successful type of comedy at the Emmys is without a doubt the family sitcom. Starting with Make Room for Daddy to All in the Family to The Cosby Show and most recently with Modern Family, network television has always been able to rely on voters’ family comedy love for Emmy gold. Even their early love for Arrested Development could be argued as an extension of the love for the genre. So why did the first season of Black-ish get virtually shut out last year besides a best actor nomination for Anthony Anderson?
The second season of Black-ish is even stronger than the first. The writers gave the entire ensemble a chance to shine. Even the four kids are given great material that doesn’t make them come across as precocious. This is more than can be said about most kid sitcom storylines (looking at you Modern Family). The writers even tackle social issues in a style very similar to sitcoms of the past like Maude, The Golden Girls, and All in the Family. So far season two has covered Black Lives Matter, modern feminism, gay marriage, and the “N word.” Black-ish is able to cover all of these subjects while remaining a pure comedy, not a dramedy. Now that the comedy series category is open to seven shows (and at least two open slots) and with no new comedies dominating the television conversation Black-ish can easily appeal to voters, especially if it is campaigned alongside Modern Family.
The safest bet for a nomination is the return of Anthony Anderson in the lead actor race. He was the show’s sole nomination last year and he even beat out former category favorites like Jim Parsons. Anderson has even less competition this year in the category with two of last year’s nominees not returning. The lead actress in a comedy category is in a similar situation with three of last year’s nominees not returning (Falco, Kudrow, and Poehler) making room for Tracee Ellis Ross to receive her first career nomination. Last year, several actresses received their first nominations after working for decades in the industry (Niecy Nash, Regina King, Taraji P Henson). This new trend of honoring a new crop of well-respected actors is sure to continue with Ross who has been working in television consistently for the past 16 years, most notably on the early 2000s hit Girlfriends.
Besides nominations in the two lead races as well as the best comedy race every other nomination seems to be more wishful thinking than a likely bet. The four child actors are some of the funniest on TV but no child actor has been nominated for an acting Emmy since the Cosby kids (Keshia Knight Pulliam, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Lisa Bonet) in 1986. Jenifer Lewis would have been the perfect contender in the guest category, but because of new Emmy episode rules she has to contend in the supporting race where she has virtually no chance against the eight returning nominees.
Black-ish hasn’t done well in any precursor awards besides the Critics Choice awards where it received four nominations. At the Golden Globes, SAG, and other guild awards the show has been ignored in favor of flashier new streaming shows. Many voters still have a soft spot for more old fashioned network comedies. With Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory fading in the eyes of voters, Black-ish is the most obvious next show to receive major attention.
Readers, do you think Black-ish will have a more successful run at the Emmys this year or do you think the second season will be completely shut out? Sound off in the comments below!
Anthony Anderson, Lead Actor
Tracee Ellis Ross, Lead Actress
Jenifer Lewis, Supporting Actress