Emmys 2016- Sorting out the Comedy categories

Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix comedy series Master of None is looking to capitalize on free spaces in the Comedy categories at this year’s Emmys.

With 2 of last year’s nominees for Oustanding Comedy Series at the Emmys out of the race, the Comedy categories have become much more of an open field. NBC’s Parks & Recreation finishing last year, and FX’s Louie taking a year off so Louis C.K. can work on new projects Baskets, and Horace & Pete, both of which are eligible this year, it means that new shows, or even previously snubbed shows, to get into the main category. It is currently expected that both of HBO’s Emmy favourites, current champ Veep, and Silicon Valley, are going to return, while Amazon continue to push hard for comedy-drama Transparent to build on their 5 wins last year by getting in for another strong season. Netflix’s breakout hit from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt will probably return if their season is strong, and, judging by its first trailer released today, it may even surpass the high standard of its first season. Then the other returning contender is ABC’s Modern Family, which was unbeaten in this category for its first 5 seasons, before losing to Veep last year. It’s a show that has been slowly but surely on the decline, reaping only 3 major bids last year, missing out in Directing, Writing, Supporting Actor for Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Ed O’Neill, and Supporting Actress for Sofia Vergara, all categories where it has been a stalwart. Was last year a one-off, or is it in danger of doing even worse this year. I have it in 6th, and won’t be surprised if it misses completely.

So, which two shows are going to make the cut this time around? I think it’s pretty safe to say that Netflix’s new hit comedy Master of None, which has already won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Comedy Series, will be the new show given some love, especially as both Orange is the New Black, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt were both nominated for their first seasons, both of which were inferior to Master of None’s stunning debut season. Whether there will be love amongst the branches is a bit uncertain, but for now, I’m pretty comfortable putting it in my 7, with it currently placed in 5th. As for the final place, my money is on ABC’s Black-ish, which has received buzz all year for its second season. It received an against the odds nomination for Anthony Anderson in Lead Actor last year, so you know that the TV Academy are watching the show, and it could do very well in more categories this time around. However, don’t be surprised if they just go for something that they have gone for before, like The Big Bang Theory, which has been beloved so much that Jim Parsons has won four (FOUR?!) Emmys in Lead Actor, and only just missed out last year. There is also Golden Globe champ Mozart in the Jungle, Fox’s The Last Man on Earth, which received 3 major nominations last year, and the Globe-nominated Casual, which Hulu will give a large campaign to, all in contention.

In the acting categories, things are a bit more straightforward, as the TV Academy love to repeat themselves, but after some notable snubs last year, including Jim Parsons for The Big Bang Theory and Jesse Tyler Ferguson for Modern Family, some surprises could be in store, and that will keep a couple of contenders on their toes. The firm favourite to win Lead Actor in a Comedy Series this year is reigning champ Jeffrey Tambor for his heartbreaking performance on Amazon’s Transparent. Despite it being more of a supporting role this time around, Tambor is so good that he is surely unstoppable, especially if he submits Episode 9 on the second season, which is a killer submission. Close behind we have Aziz Ansari for Master of None, who should be fine for at least a nomination if the TV Academy fall for the show, and he, like Tambor, has a couple of really good episodes to choose from, as he could get as many as 4 nominations overall (acting, directing, writing, and producing). Then we have consistent nominee William H. Macy for Shameless, followed by 2 more of last year’s nominees: Anthony Anderson for Black-ish, and Will Forte for The Last Man on Earth, who both should return following their surprise inclusions last time around. The final slot is interesting. My pick is Don Cheadle, but I am a bit worried that no one is actually watching his show, House of Lies. I didn’t put him in my 6 last year (I foolishly put in Billy Crystal), and regretted it, plus his directorial debut, Miles Ahead, is released during voting. If he misses, it could be an opportunity for Jim Parsons to return, or even Golden Globe winner Gael Garcia Bernal, who could take advantage of the extra exposure to Mozart in the Jungle from the HFPA.

In Lead Actress, the field is looking rather empty, with Amy Poehler, Lisa Kudrow, and Edie Falco out of the race, with Parks and Recreation and Nurse Jackie both finishing, and The Comeback being yet to return. That means that a couple of contenders who just missed last year, plus a few new contenders, have a great shot at getting a nomination. The winner of this category the last 4 years, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, is far and away the frontrunner, closely followed by Amy Schumer, even though Inside Amy Schumer hasn’t premiered any footage from its latest season yet. The other returning actress in contention is Lily Tomlin for Grace & Frankie, but, like Veep and Inside Amy Schumer, we’re yet to see the new material. A likely first time nominee this year is Ellie Kemper, who surprisingly missed out last year. If Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt gets another Series nomination, she should get in, but I did say that last year. The SAG nomination she received in December gives me faith that she’ll get in. The next two places are so tough. I’ve got Jane Fonda in 5th for Grace & Frankie, because she’s a veteran starring in a show that they have to be watching, and may get checked off when voters are voting for Tomlin, and I’ve got Tracee Ellis Ross in 6th for Black-ish, but I’m still unsure how well the show will do, but I’m more confident about her than the other actresses in contention. A couple of those are previous winner Melissa McCarthy for the recently cancelled Mike & Molly, and the Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice winner Rachel Bloom for her breakout role in the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. With Mike & Molly’s decline, followed by cancellation, and the TV Academy’s CW prejudices, I’ll stick with my 6, but things could change.

In Supporting Actor, we may have one of the best line-ups in recent memory, with pretty much all the best comedic performances on television all appearing in close contention, including all 6 of last year’s nominees returning. Tony Hale will be looking for his 3rd win in this category for Veep, and is a safe pick now to win, sight unseen, but his chances depend on how much screen time he gets following Hugh Laurie’s inclusion in the show last season. He managed to still win last year for limited screen time, so I think he should be fine. Then we have last year’s favourite who was unfairly beaten, Tituss Burgess for his outlandish performance on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The new trailer suggests that he won’t be so much a co-lead as he was at times in the first season, allowing Burgess to flourish as more of a scene stealer, which the Emmys love to award in this category. Ty Burrell should receive yet another nomination should Modern Family keep itself afloat, as should Andre Braugher, even though it has been clear that the TV Academy aren’t massive fans of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Then we come down to the final 2 places, which I have been switching around a lot. We have 3 top contenders: 2 of last year’s surprise nominees- Keegan-Michael Key for Key & Peele, and Adam Driver for Girls, and the much improved Jay Duplass for his soul-crushing work on Transparent. I’ve got Duplass and Driver in for now, as Transparent will probably sweep in the nominations phase, and Driver has extra buzz following his villainous role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I’m certainly not discounting Key, or even his co-star Jordan Peele, but I got bitten last year after predicting another sketch star to get a second consecutive nomination in Fred Armisen for Portlandia.

Finally we come to Supporting Actress, which is possibly the tightest contest of any category at this year’s Emmys, as all 8 of last year’s nominees are returning again this year. The winner for the last two years, Allison Janney, is likely to return for Mom, despite the show’s poor showings at the previous ceremonies. Then we have Anna Chlumsky, who is looking to finally win for Veep, after 3 previous nominations. If she has a great submission, and if Veep continues to be the frontrunner for Comedy Series, she can definitely upset, like I thought she would last year, incorrectly. Then we have Kate McKinnon as a likely returner for being the stand-out cast member on Saturday Night Live, for which she’ll likely have a great episode, and then there is Jane Krakowski, who is overdue for a victory, a probable nominee for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The next couple of places are tricky. I’m going for Judith Light to be the Transparent representative in this category, even though she missed out last year to her co-star Gaby Hoffmann. While it is true that, once again, Hoffmann has more material, but Light is more memorable in a classic supporting turn, and is more beloved in the industry, so I think she gets in this time around. The final slot is killing me, but I’m going safe with Julie Bowen, a previous winner who always gets in. But Modern Family is massively on the decline, and she could follow in the footsteps of Vergara, Stonestreet, Ferguson, and O’Neill, and get dropped from their category. If that happens, we’re looking towards Mayim Bialik from The Big Bang Theory, Niecy Nash from Getting On, or Hoffmann from Transparent to sneak in.

Overall, this is a fun race, and one that is certain to create plenty of shocks along the way. Let’s see how it all develops!


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