Sunday, June 19, 2011

Emmy Musings: Best Comedy Series

Now that the 2010-2011 TV season is officially over, it’s hardly too early to start thinking about the Emmy nominations, which will be announced in July. Consider these preliminary thoughts rather than official predictions – look for those at the beginning of July. As always, chime in with your reactions and predictions in the comments, and don’t hesitate to let me know if I left any strong contenders off the list!

Last year’s ineligible nominees: Curb Your Enthusiasm returns this summer.

Last year’s eligible nominees:
This musical dramedy is on fire this year, and managed to score three Golden Globes back in January. The question of quality is one that could damage it, since both “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” experienced shocking snubs for their second years. My feeling is that there is hardly steep enough competition to knock this show out of the race, and it would be a true surprise if it didn’t make the top category again.

Modern Family
This series is in the best shape of all as the returning champion in this category. The second season was just as strong as the first, and the fact that it managed to overtake “Glee” at the SAG Awards to win Best Ensemble means that others are coming around to its quality, which happened to “30 Rock” during its second and third years. The show will likely win this award again.

Nurse Jackie
This series’ chances are a bit more fickle than the rest, for two reasons. This black comedy on Showtime is considerably darker than the other contenders, and it also only aired one season as compared with the two that were eligible last year. Because it’s so different from the others, and much more arc-dependent, it stands a chance of being left out, just as fellow Showtime series “Weeds” did after its solo mention back in 2009.

The Office
Just when are Emmy voters going to decide to drop this show? “Will & Grace” held on through its penultimate season, long after it should have been rescinded from the lineup. This show had an uneven year but ended on a high note with Steve Carell’s departure, so those positive memories will probably keep it in the game. But don’t be surprised if this is the year the show doesn’t make the cut.

30 Rock
We’re looking at nomination number five for this series, which won the category three years in a row before being dethroned by “Modern Family” last year. Though its quality has waned a bit, Emmy voters shouldn’t be anywhere near giving up on this show, and so it will definitely be back, even if its chances at winning are pretty much slim to none now that it’s settled in its past winner perch.

New contenders:
The Big C
Showtime’s newest popular series may be seen as much more accessible than other shows like “Weeds” and “Nurse Jackie,” despite its deathly themes, thanks to the sunny nature of its protagonist. That may not be enough to get it nominated, but it certainly feels like the kind of show that could straddle into a comedy category, and it’s hard to argue with its proven quality. It has a good shot of breaking into the top six.

Raising Hope
Greg Garcia’s last show, “My Name is Earl,” earned acting, writing, and directing wins but never a mention in the top race. As this season’s only successful new sitcom, it stands a chance of breaking into the race. That said, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea and probably hasn’t made enough of a splash on the FOX network to really make waves. It’s a dark horse.

Other possibilities:
The Big Bang Theory
What exactly is taking Emmy voters so long to get clued in to one of television’s highest-rated shows? Despite two nominations for star Jim Parsons, and a win last year, “How I Met Your Mother” was the CBS show that broke into the race two years ago. Sometimes it takes voters a while to catch on to a quality show – “Scrubs” didn’t make it in until season four – so hopefully that’s the magic number for fans of this show as it presumably finally breaks through this year.

This NBC comedy got shut out entirely last year, despite some very well-humored car ads featuring the cast during the ceremony itself. Devotees seem to have enjoyed season two just as much as they liked season one, and it’s puzzling that this show, which is frequently praised for its strong cleverness, didn’t earn any accolades last year. Expect it to make some sort of showing this year, even if it’s not in this category specifically.

Parks and Recreation
This NBC comedy earned slight recognition last year for its star Amy Poehler, and hopefully this is the year that voters realize everything about the show is excellent. It’s impossible to find a weak link in the cast, and each episode is hilarious. Sadly, Emmy voters have a history of recognizing great stars on great shows without recognizing the shows themselves (“The Shield,” for one), and I’m terribly worried that might be the case here. Let’s hope not.

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