A note: For my Emmys 2015 roundup, check out my post here.
If the Best Drama race for this year’s Emmys feels a little narrow, the competition for Best Comedy looks to be much more open. Each of the seven nominees have a passable claim to win; of course, some claims are stronger than others, but let’s look at them, shall we?
Amy Poehler against Tina Fey
The two most high-profile female comedians in the industry (sorry, Amy Schumer, your star’s not that high yet) are once again competing against each other, as Amy Poehler stars in Parks and Recreation while Tina Fey exec produces Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Parks was nominated for its seventh and final season, while Kimmy Schmidt was nominated for its first season.
Parks has had a decent final season, if sacrificing laughs for a feel-good conclusion, while Kimmy Schmidt has been great off the bat. Nostalgia’s the keyword when it comes to rooting for a Parks victory, while Kimmy Schmidt has Tina Fey’s name attached and great press overall. (And an addictive theme song.)
The bridesmaids take their spots
Louie, Silicon Valley and Veep continue their streak of nominations with little hope of taking the prize. Each of these three shows have had good to great seasons, but unfortunately, they will have to wait for next year at the least.
Of the three shows, Veep has had the best season, keeping up its incredibly consistent quality and continuing to make me laugh every week. The writing remains razor-sharp and the addition of guest stars like Patton Oswalt and Hugh Laurie has only strengthened the show.
Silicon Valley has improved from last year (even though the first season’s dick joke can never be improved upon), fixing most of the flaws and becoming a competent companion to Veep. The show also navigated the death of main cast member Christopher Welch with skill and grace.
Louie has had a solid fifth season, with a welcome return to the more comedic tone of seasons 1-3. However, save for a few moments (Michael Rappaport’s guest appearance as a police officer was a hoot), the fifth season never really reaches the heights of those seasons.
Modern Family, its modern competitor, and momentum
However, the two front-runners to take the prize are Modern Family and Transparent.
Modern Family can boast of its incredible pedigree – it has taken the Best Comedy award five times in its first five seasons, a record only matched by Frasier. This show is in rarefied territory, and if it wins again this year it will enter record-breaking territory.
However, save for its well-received technology-centred episode “Connection Lost”, the sixth season has suffered from the inevitable dip in quality as a show ages. Also, it may well suffer from voter fatigue. Even the mighty Frasier lost its awards magic from its sixth season onwards, and the ratings juggernaut that is The Big Bang Theory was not nominated this year for the first time in five years. Modern Family can never be ruled out as long as it is nominated, but historical precedent suggests it will face a tough fight this year and in future years to win or even be nominated.
Its competitor? The plucky upstart Transparent. The Amazon comedy, in its first season, is riding a huge wave of critical acclaim and goodwill from the wider audience, and it deserves all of the praise – Transparent is a beautifully-made and groundbreaking show.
Also, the show has gained momentum in the awards circuit, winning at the Golden Globes among other awards, and it should have a strong claim for the Best Comedy award this year. If awards are given considering just momentum, Transparent should win in a landslide.
But then again, Transparent has a major flaw: it’s just not that funny.
The comedy conundrum
Despite its classification as a comedy, Transparent is what I would call a dramedy – a blend of both drama and comedy. And that’s a generous call, considering how few laughs I get every episode of Transparent.
Mind you, the show is superb still. It’s just not a comedy that either Modern Family, Veep, Silicon Valley, Parks and Recreation, or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is. Even Louie, with its experimental nature, comes down on the side of funny more often than poignant.
I am nitpicking, but since this is a Best Comedy award, this concern is unfortunately relevant.
Which show will take Best Comedy? I suspect Transparent, for all the lack of laughs, has the best chance of taking the prize. A show this beautiful and with so much support from the public in this LGBT-aware era looks to be unstoppable.
Modern Family is a close runner-up by virtue of its pedigree, while Veep is a critical darling and undoubtedly worthy of the win.
The dark horses are Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Silicon Valley, which have had impressive seasons with plenty of good press.
Unfortunately for Louie, this season has not been its best, and for Parks and Recreation, a nomination will have to do for its victory lap.