WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: Endlessly inventive and laugh-out-loud funny (the invisible car, anyone?), Donald Glover’s FX comedy burst out of the gate with a real swagger, like Glover had been doing this for years. The tale of hip-hop manager Earn and his rapper cousin Paper Boi hopped all over the genre map, tossing in commercial parodies and a black Justin Bieber. But it had a core of real emotional truth, too, tackling race, romance and the universal struggle of growing up.
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: Is the acid-tongued Hulu comedy the most important comedy of the year? Hardly. But the Julie Klausner-Billy Eichner vehicle blossomed into one of TV’s flat-out funniest series, with a joke-per-minute ratio that rivals the likes of Veep at its peak (and an expletive-per-minute ratio that exceeds HBO’s potty-mouthed satire). And if you don’t believe us, go stream the season’s second outing, the New Jersey-skewering “Italian Pinata,” and witness a sitcom at the top of its game.
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: Nominated in this category for its first two seasons, Lena Dunham’s polarizing HBO dramedy went out on a high note — in other words, as much as ever surprising (Ray didn’t end up with Shosh?!?), disturbing (Jessa’s dive-bar-bathroom hookup), brilliant (Loreen’s wild trip on pot Gummies) and heartbreaking (Hannah and Adam’s near-reunion). And, though the series was never going to be for everyone, those of us who’d come to admire it wouldn’t have wanted it to end any other way.
THE GOOD PLACE
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: Well, you can’t say network comedies don’t take chances anymore. NBC’s bright, bubbly freshman series took a remarkably weird concept — bad girl dies, gets mistakenly sent to a heavenly afterlife — and spun it into sitcom gold, thanks to a rock-solid cast (led by Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, both wonderful), a surplus of quotable one-liners and a jaw-dropping finale twist that made everything that came before it seem a touch more sinister… and intriguing.
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: As the HBO dramedy messily transformed co-creator/leading lady Issa Rae’s endearingly well-intentioned alter ego from Miss Gives No F—s to Miss Gives All the F—s in its damn-near-flawless freshman season, we could never predict whether any given scene was going to leave us in stitches or tears. But, whether the show went for laughs, pathos or both at once, it always left us feeling like it was so real, it wasn’t just deserving of Emmy recognition, it was — as an episode might be titled — deserving as f—.
MASTER OF NONE
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: Season 2 of Aziz Ansari’s food-obsessed rom-com was worth the (very long) wait. The new episodes were bursting with creative inspiration, from the gorgeously filmed Italy installments to the bottle episodes diving into Dev’s Muslim upbringing and his lesbian friend Denise coming out to her family. It was Dev’s bittersweet infatuation with Italian pal Francesca, though, that was the emotional backbone of Season 2, and made it not just an entertaining nibble, but a satisfying meal.
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: Having already proven itself worthy of the “Must-See TV” moniker, this bold ensemble comedy went to some wonderfully surprising places in its second season, tackling hot-button issues like immigration, sexuality and abortion under the harsh fluorescent lighting of a superstore run by one of the funniest, most diverse cast of misfits on television. All that and a well-developed, properly handled will-they-won’t-they romance? Consider us satisfied customers.