Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Emmy Musings: Best Comedy Series

Now that the 2011-2012 TV season is almost 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 eligible nominees:
The Big Bang Theory
This show finally broke through last year in its fourth season with a best series bid. Late-breaking CBS series “Two and a Half Men” and “How I Met Your Mother” were nominated for three and one year, respectively, but I think that this show is still popular and well-liked enough to return for another year at least since it shows so signs of slowing down.

This show has been nominated for the past two years, picking up acting trophies each year and losing the top race to “Modern Family.” Both Golden Globe and SAG voters have caught on to that trend as well after crowning “Glee” in the past, and though the show could return as a nominee in this race, its chances are reduced given that few think the show has improved and might be tempted to discard it in favor of something else fresh.

Modern Family
This show is healthily on top, taking home the Golden Globe Award for Best TV Series – Comedy/Musical for the first time and its second SAG ensemble trophy. Season three got great reviews, and though it’s hardly a lock for the win, its chances are strong, and it’s definitely going to be nominated again since, by all accounts, it’s just as popular as ever.

The Office
This show, according to pretty much everyone, has been going downhill for a while now, and it can’t be long before Emmy voters catch on, though they do have a history of not letting shows go once they’re past their prime, like “Will & Grace.” It’s hard to imagine this show netting another nomination with series star Steve Carell gone, but it’s still possible.

Parks & Recreation
TV’s best comedy finally got recognized for the first time last year in this race, and it’s all but guaranteed to return as more and more voters wise up to the fact that they’ve been missing out. The show’s fourth season had a full twenty-two episodes, and its political plotline worked marvelously. It would be a tragedy for this show to be snubbed, but, fortunately, I don’t think there’s much of a chance of that happening.

30 Rock
As it’s been announced that this show will end next year, it has the opportunity to be nominated for the sixth time after winning for its first three seasons. The show may not be as good as it used to be, but voters love it, so the chances of it being snubbed aren’t likely, even as Golden Globe voters, who have also lauded it with trophies, left it off the Best TV Series – Comedy/Musical list for the first time this past year.

Past nominees:
Curb Your Enthusiasm
This show, which airs more sporadically than any other series, has been nominated for this award for the past six of its seven total seasons. Its eighth year didn’t get any bites from Golden Globe or SAG voters, but Emmy voters do love Larry David, and it’s likely that the show will return to this race for Larry’s season-long trip to New York City.

New contenders:
This offbeat HBO dramedy received a Golden Globe nomination for Best TV Series – Comedy/Musical and a trophy for its lead actress Laura Dern. The show could well prove a hit with Emmy voters, but I suspect that they’ll confine their support for this more dramatic series to a nomination for its star.

Including this show would be an intriguing move on Emmy voters’ part, and an altogether too energetic one for their tastes, in my opinion. A writing nomination and even an acting bid for series creator Lena Dunham are much more likely since this show, though it is reminiscent in some ways of the much-loved “Sex and the City,” isn’t really like anything Emmy voters have endorsed before.

House of Lies
This Showtime comedy about management consultants may be just what Emmy voters ordered, given their recent one-shot nominations of “Weeds” and “Nurse Jackie” in this category. This show is well-written and has a strong cast, and though it’s certainly an underdog, it actually fits in well with what this category has been recognizing in recent years, and it’s my pick for an unexpected breakthrough.

New Girl
This FOX comedy has steadily improved throughout its first season, though Golden Globe voters liked it enough back in January to honor it with a Best TV Series – Comedy/Musical nomination. This would be a fun choice, but its inclusion is hardly guaranteed since it’s not as established as some of the other shows. Freshmen series tend to do fine here, however, so maybe it can make it in.

This hilarious HBO show is a deadpan comedy at its best, featuring Emmy favorite Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the Vice President. She’s a lock for a nomination, and it’s up in the air as to whether her show will be along for the ride with her. Series creator Armando Iannucci is new to American television, but he’s had great success with British TV awards, so consider him and the show a serious threat.

Other possibilities:
This show broke through with a surprise acting nomination and writing bid for series creator Louis C.K., and tepid enthusiasm sometimes leads to greater endorsement the following year. No FX comedy has ever broken into this particular race, but there’s a first time for everything, and this may be the show to achieve that feat.

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