Outstanding Comedy Series is already shaping up to be one of the most competitive categories at the 2019 Emmys between two recent winners that couldn’t be more different. Veep the sardonic look at our political system is back for its final season after taking a break last year. Since then The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, an infectiously sincere and rhythmic period piece, has become the new industry darling winning nearly every award in its path.
Veep winning for its upcoming final season has felt predestined since it was announced back in 2017, and for good reason. Over the course of six seasons Veep has won 17 Emmys out of 59 nominations including three consecutive wins for comedy series. On top of its pitch perfect writing and acting ensemble the show has played a significant role in the way we look at modern politics. The final season could simply be alright and there would still be a swell of support to honor it. However it is worth pointing out that we haven’t had any new episodes in two years. Since then our political landscape has completely changed, and it will be interesting to see if audiences react the same way or if we’re in the middle of a political fatigue.
Since Veep was last on air The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has streamed two seasons and gone on to monopolize every single major comedy award. The second season is entering the 2019 Emmys fresh off of 8 wins from last year and the single most successful guilds sweep for any comedy ever. The second season has been well-received so far and in all likelihood will expand its Emmy count from last year especially because of its lavish period design. Is it possible that the show has built up so much momentum that it will continue its sweep through the Emmys?
So how do you decide which polar opposite comedy will end up being the real frontrunner? The tea leaves will be in the nominations. Is there a surprise supporting actor nomination? Keep an eye on Marin Hinkle for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Timothy Simons of Veep. Can Zachary Levi earn the first nomination of his career for his guest role on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? Which show will rack up more writing and directing nominations? Or will the nominations surprise us all and welcome a brand new winner that we’re unfairly dismissing?
Last year a tie led to eight nominees for Outstanding Comedy Series. Curb Your Enthusiasm, Silicon Valley, and Atlanta all took the year off which means there is a potential for up to five returning nominees in addition to the return of Veep.
The first season of Barry was the sleeper hit of the 2018 Emmys picking up nominations in every major category as well as the first career acting wins for Bill Hader and Henry Winkler. Season Two premieres this weekend and the early reviews have been celebrating Barry’s deeper dive into exploring just how far its titular character will go. Emmy voters will continue to go crazy over the HBO comedy because it simultaneously covers everything that matches the voters sensibilities while also tonally coming across as a brand new kind of show.
Black-ish has been nominated for the past three seasons and although it hasn’t really grown in nominations the Johnsons remain the most high profile family in comedy. As the seasons progressed Black-ish lost some of its initial charm but throughout the fifth season it seems to have found a second wind. Upcoming movie star Marsai Martin has been given more to do and Oscar-nominee Quvenzhané Wallis has been an amazing addition (ABC should start a guest campaign immediately).
Of all of last year’s nominees the fate of GLOW is probably the hardest to predict. The Netflix wrestling comedy is beloved among fans and critics but it’s had a mixed bag of results among guild groups and the actors branch at the Emmys last year were pretty cold to Alison Brie and Marc Maron. So the big question is whether or not GLOW can continue to stand out in an insanely crowded category, especially since the second season dropped an entire year before voting begins.
As the result of a tie there were eight comedy nominees last year and most people believe one of the benefits of that tie was Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Although the Netflix comedy has received 18 nominations since 2015 it was only nominated for one other award last year, Tituss Burgess. The final six episodes came and went in January without any buzz which is odd for a final season. It’s much more likely that voters reward the final season by nominating Burgess one last time.
Trying to Break In
In 2019 there are a couple of popular returning shows that are hoping to break into the Emmys for the first time. The Good Place finally has momentum after a string of guild nominations. Fleabag seems even stronger now that Phoebe Waller-Bridge has become an even bigger name in the industry. Plenty of comedies are ending on a series high and are hoping to finally be recognized.
Fans of The Good Place are some of the most passionate and committed of any show. They’ve championed the afterlife comedy for three seasons now and it appears that industry voters are finally catching up. Ted Danson and Maya Rudolph were nominated at last year’s Emmys. Then the comedy was nominated both for series and lead actress at the Golden Globes as well as guild recognition for producing, writing, and editing. Now that The Good Place has moved on from being a cult comedy with a small but passionate fan base to one of the most talked about comedies on TV it seems poised to have a big year at the Emmys. Or will an insanely crowded field of returning contenders get in its way?
Fleabag premiered in the U.S. back in 2016 and slowly but surely became a word of mouth hit. Since then Phoebe Waller-Bridge has become an even bigger name from a standout role in Solo: A Star Wars Story and creating last year’s breakout drama Killing Eve. Now that Fleabag is finally coming back for a second season in May it has the potential to break into a couple of major Emmy categories. The category seems to be overflowing with potential comedies so a series nomination might seem like wishful thinking but if critics really push the second season anything could happen. Instead Fleabag is probably a stronger competitor for its writing and possibly in supporting actress especially since Olivia Colman is fresh off of her Oscar win.
Year after year critics (especially here at ADTV) have been begging Emmy voters to consider Schitt’s Creek to no avail. The unconventional family comedy has been the victim of network bias for airing on POPTV. This year is a little different with the Rose family finding a larger audience in streaming syndication. The currently airing fifth season has also been given a major boost from culture critics celebrating Dan Levy’s writing and portrayal of a genuine, moving, and beautiful queer relationship that is able to exist in this small town without any prejudice or hate. Sometimes it takes a while for Emmy voters to catch on to a critical darling (The Americans for example) but maybe this is the year voters finally take notice.
2019 is also the year that a number of fan favorite and critical darlings are coming to an end. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Catastrophe, Broad City, and One Day at a Time never resonated with Emmy voters in a major way but in their final season fans have the opportunity to rally behind one of them and nominate them somewhere. At the very least Rachel Bloom deserves a farewell win in the original Song category, especially since she’s lost her only two nominations so far.
Coming out of the guild awards the only new comedy with any sort of momentum is Chuck Lorre’s newest project The Kominsky Method. Michael Douglas stars as an aging actor turned acting coach dealing with aging in an industry and culture that values youth, so of course it will stand out to guild voters. It is also Lorre’s most stylistically unique project to date and the first season has earned him some of the best reviews of his career. It earned three SAG nominations but it’s hard to tell whether that’s a strong enough indicator of Emmy support or a fluke since SAG voters recognize Netflix more often than other groups.
Russian Doll premiered in February and slowly but surely became one of the most talked about new shows of the year. Week after week audiences were discovering and talking about the seemingly fresh story of a woman played by Natasha Lyonne stuck in a time loop forced to relive the last day of her life over and over. So far Russian Doll is one of the best reviewed new shows of the year with a 96 on Rotten Tomatoes and an 89 on Metacritic without a single mixed or negative review. Working against it voters might feel it’s too niche especially with a lack of household names beyond Lyonne and co-creator Amy Poehler.
Over the past month the internet has fallen in love with The Other Two and for good reason. Focused around the struggling adult siblings of a teenage popstar the new show has received a lot of praise for its fresh voice on millennial culture as well as its extremely specific plotlines surrounding gay culture including naked instagays and starving yourself in order to bottom. At first glance it doesn’t seem like the type of comedy that will stand out to Emmy voters especially since it airs on Comedy Central but co-creator Chris Kelly already has seven previous nominations for working as the head writer on SNL. Comedy Central has also promised to invest a lot of time, energy, and money into its Emmy campaign which might give the show the extra boost it needs to stand out.
Throughout 2019 Hulu has really dedicated itself as a network to cultivating and supporting unique voices in comedy and the streaming network deserves to be celebrated for that. In the past couple of months alone Hulu has released Pen15, Shrill, and the upcoming Ramy. All three comedies feature completely unique points of view that aren’t really being supported on any other network. Outstanding Comedy Series is in all likelihood too crowded for any of these shows to sneak in but maybe the writers’ branch will single one of them out or even a lead actress nomination for Aidy Bryant.
|Early Frontrunners||Strong Contenders||In The Conversation|
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
The Good Place
The Kominsky Method
The Other Two
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt