WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: It was fair to wonder what HBO’s hitman comedy would even do for an encore, but Season 2 was even better, somehow managing to get darker and funnier at the same time. The showbiz parodies got even sharper as Sally had her first brush with Hollywood success, and Anthony Carrigan blossomed into TV’s top scene-stealer as goofy Chechen mobster Noho Hank. But it was the stark examination of Barry’s fraying moral fiber — and Bill Hader’s knockout lead performance — that truly hit its target.
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: We’re sure going to miss this gem of a comedy, which was as sharp as ever in its tremendous final season. Catastrophe has always excelled at finding the humor — the dark, wry, laugh-because-it’s-better-than-crying humor — in life’s least funny situations, a feat it pulled off once again while examining grief, family dysfunction and more in Season 4. Emmy voters have one last chance to recognize this under-the-radar delight, which went out on a deeply satisfying creative high.
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: The sophomore run of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s riotously funny, boldly confessional comedy was like an answer to our prayers… which makes sense, since Fleabag spent the whole season chasing after a sexy Catholic priest. The awkward love triangle that ensued — her, him and God — led to some fascinating soul-searching on our heroine’s part, and Waller-Bridge’s fiendishly clever writing continued to smash boundaries (including the fourth wall), striking the perfect balance between pitch-black comedy and poignant introspection.
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: Having established itself as an entertaining look at sassy, spandex-clad lady wrestlers (and the problems and pile-drivers they face), the Netflix series used Season 2 to go a little deeper. It was a smart maneuver. GLOW kept the laughs — thinking about the finale’s over-the-top brawl for the bouquet still makes us giggle — while giving many of its characters achingly human hills to climb. Bash’s struggle with his sexuality, Ruth and Debbie’s tentative truce, Arthie and Yolanda’s romance — go ahead and suplex our hearts, why don’t you?
THE OTHER TWO
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: A tongue-in-cheek look at the trappings of viral fame in a post-Bieber world, Comedy Central’s The Other Two packs an unexpected punch, finding pockets of humanity in the ludicrous shenanigans facing the show’s lightning-in-a-bottle cast of comedic geniuses, each of whom embodies a role they were born to play. With its finger on the pulse of what’s relevant, The Other Two offers a refreshingly unique take on various subcultures, offering commentary without judgment. For the most part.
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: It’d be easy to sum up Netflix’s trippy comedy as a twisted take on Groundhog Day: Protagonist Nadia keeps dying on her 36th birthday, only to be resurrected each time in an endless loop. But throughout its eight episodes, Russian Doll became one of the year’s most moving, introspective series, posing uncomfortable questions about a person’s ability to truly change. Anchored by an astounding performance from Natasha Lyonne, the show was all at once heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny — a killer combination, indeed.
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: Because we can no longer sit idly by while the Television Academy continues to ignore this ensemble comedy about the day-to-day goings-on at a big box retailer. It’s one of the few network sitcoms that still induces belly laughs while also being socially relevant. Take, for instance, Amy’s expletive-laden rant about her lack of maternity leave, or the ongoing plot involving Mateo’s undocumented status. And it’s not always serious. Storylines this year involving Dina’s precious birds and Sandra and Jerry’s secret love affair were equally delightful.