Emmys 2012: The Comedy Series Race in Review, Including Our Dream Nominees
Having just wrapped what's been called one of its strongest seasons (and that's saying something!), NBC's critical darling — a three-time Emmy winner for comedy series — is a safe bet for another nod. The show's only potential stumbling block, however surmountable it may be, is the possibility that the cast’s on-screen shenanigans might be overshadowed by their off-screen ones (Baldwin's threats to depart the series as well as Tracy Morgan's gay-slur laden stand-up set).
THE BIG BANG THEORY
Now that CBS' comedy finally was nominated for the best series Emmy last year, it doesn't take a genius like Sheldon Cooper to figure out that it's likely to be given a second turn at bat.
NBC’s little comedy that could failed to score a single major Emmy nomination during its first four years on the air. Might voters be inclined to right that wrong and throw the show a bone for its mostly satisfying fifth and final season? We’re not holding our breath.
For three seasons now, the industry consensus about NBC's community-collegiate comedy has seemed to be that it's smart, innovative, funny … and just too far-out for its own good. But, after its fans campaigned for its return to the schedule, and creatively it scored over and over (first with a send-up of Ken Burns' The Civil War and then with a Law & Order spoof), the tide may finally have turned. But the recent ouster of creator Dan Harmon and his publicized feud with co-star Chevy Chase may prove distracting for Academy voters.
ABC’s (and now TBS’) wine-soaked satire boasts one of the best comedy ensembles on the tube, but it faces an uphill battle getting Emmy’s attention. Strike 1: Its first two seasons were completely shut out. Strike 2: It spent most of Season 3 on the bench. Strike 3: That title.
CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM
After sitting out the last Emmys due to ineligibility, Larry David's HBO mainstay came roaring (perhaps grumbling?) back this season with a move to Manhattan and a particularly well-received series of episodes. But, while both the show and its star are Emmy favorites — and at least the latter is a surefire nominee — the odds of either one taking home the gold aren't all that great: To date, the series has won only a single statuette, and that was for directing, way back in 2003.
HBO's new comedy about a screw-up's spiritual awakening is an acquired taste that as yet not many viewers have acquired. (Given its low ratings, it was a shock that it was even renewed for a second season.)
Lena Dunham's freshman comedy initially took some heat for lack of diversity and allegations of nepotistic casting, but the focus of discussion has now returned to the fact that, at the end of the day, the show is drop-dead, deadpan funny. And, since the industry's infatuation with the fresh-faced series (and, for that matter, its creator/star) never wavered, it probably stands an even better chance of returning HBO to the comedy race than the cable network's last nominee, the aging Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Debate over whether the Fox musical has already peaked inevitably leads to talk that perhaps this year it won't be given another Emmy nod (its third, should it manage to get the nomination). It still has moments of greatness, of course. But will voters deem them "momentous" enough?
The two Critics Choice nods the show picked up (for Casey Wilson and Damon Wayans Jr.) certainly raises the ABC comedy’s kudos profile, but will it be enough to get the attention of Emmy voters? As amahzing as that would be, it’s probably a long-shot.
Since creator-star Louis C.K. earned his surprise nomination for lead actor last year (not to mention one for writing), his "stand-up comedy's" profile has only been raised. Better still for its prospects, its profile has been raised among the sort of industry types who are also Emmy voters. So expect to see him again in the running — and don't be shocked if his show squeezes into the ultra-competitive comedy series category as well.
Since Season 3 is regarded as highly as Seasons 1 and 2, ABC's megahit is certain to be nominated again for comedy series — and all but certain to take home the Emmy for the third time in a row.
As one of the season's few new comedy breakouts, Fox's freshman is all but automatically moved to the Emmy shortlist for a nod.
Response to the workplace laffer's first season post-Steve Carell has been tepid at best. As a result, the show is faced with the very real possibility that it will not be nominated for the comedy series Emmy for the first time since its brief and underrated first season in 2005.
PARKS AND RECREATION
If any show really poses a threat to Modern Family, it's this one. NBC's local-government send-up is coming off not just its best season yet, but one that's so superlative that some critics have taken to calling it the best comedy on television. So, obviously, a nomination is a given. And a win? A definite maybe.
For our money, ABC’s rookie suburban satire is the most underrated comedy on the air. In a less crowded field of contenders, it would be a shoo-in for a best series nod. It’s best hope for Emmy love is probably for supporting actress (and Critics Choice nominee) Cheryl Hines.
Very different from just about anything on HBO, or on any other channel for that matter, this profane series – set in the unsettled office of the vice president to an unseen U.S. president – has been gaining momentum.