In a year that has felt like a decade, we’ve now reached the point where voting for the 2020 Primetime and Creative Arts Emmys is just three weeks away. And despite a global pandemic and nationwide protests, Emmy campaigning has continued (sort of). In that context, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the major categories as Television Academy members consider a multitude of options in yet another year of Peak TV. First up, Outstanding Comedy Series.
If you are in Los Angeles you’ve spent most of the past three months at home, but if you’ve ventured out (and many have over the past few weeks) you’ll notice a dramatic decrease in outdoor FYC advertising this Emmy season. Not only was it deemed inappropriate because of the pandemic, but also pointless with so many voters barely crisscrossing LA county. Moreover, Television Academy staples such as screenings and Q&As have been relegated to zoom conferences. And whether those virtual events have any impact this season remains to be seen.
One thing that is clear, however, is that thousands of members of the Television Academy who would often be busy working on set or in an editing room have had a ton of free time on their hands (writers less so). And it’s obvious they were a small part of the dramatic increase in viewership reported by Netflix, Hulu, and other streamers during this period. That makes this year incredibly hard to gauge. Did more members check out lauded comedy series such as “Sex Education,” “Nora From Queens,” “Never Have I Ever,” “I’m Not Okay With This,” “Shrill,” “Breeders,” “Mythic Quest” or “Dickinson” than they would have during previous years? That’s the billion-dollar question. But if you’re putting your money on programs and performances from services such as the aforementioned Netflix and Hulu you’re likely making a very smart bet.
For the eight nominated series, it’s expected that three of last year’s nominees will make the cut: “Schitt’s Creek,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “The Good Place.” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which was ineligible last season, is also pretty much a given. And as we’ll detail later, “Dead to Me” should be part of the “safe” cluster. That means there are (likely) just three slots left.*
Here’s a rundown of series we think are still in the mix based on pedigree, previous nominations in the category, buzz, critical acclaim, or network viewership.
The question isn’t whether it will make the cut, but whether it can overcome established support for “Maisel” or even “Dead to Me” to win. Basically, have enough Television Academy members watched it to vote for it when it counts?
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Let’s just say if it somehow doesn’t land a nomination it will be a moment for the Emmy history books.
“The Good Place”
After earning its first nod last year we’re highly confident the lauded final season of NBC’s Peabody winner will make the cut.
“Curb Your Enthusiasm”
We’re not sure if “Curb” can have a “comeback,” but season 10 might have been it. Every season of Larry David‘s farce has earned a nomination except for the first. It’s a lock.
“Dead to Me”
It’s not at the level of “Fleabag” last year or “Veep” in its heyday, but the industry loves the Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini dramedy in a manner that is rarely seen. Pretty close to a lock.
“The Kominsky Method”
Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin earned individual nods last year, but the series didn’t make the cut. That being said, the Netflix player has substantial actor support earning three SAG nods in both 2019 and 2020. That just might be enough to push it through this time around.
Nominated three times beginning in 2016, the ABC contender likely missed another nod in 2019 because of steep competition. It could easily return to the nominee club this year. Unless it doesn’t.
In theory, it’s a big “Huzzah!” hit for Hulu with names that will get Emmy voter’s attention. Don’t be surprised if it crashes the party.
A huge social media player for HBO, the question is whether Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore’s dramedy can breakthrough in its fourth season. It doesn’t hurt that it has episodes airing all the way to June 14.
A critic’s favorite, star and creator Pamela Adlon landed two Emmy nods in the Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series category in 2017 and 2018 but was snubbed last year. But…maybe?
Massive critical acclaim and, in theory, it arrived just in time. “In theory.”
The biggest hit FX (or FXX) has had in ages, the Lil Dicky (Dave Burd) comedy is either a massive Emmy player ready to pounce or a cultural phenomenon for those outside the industry bubble.
It may be one of Apple TV+’s most revered new shows, but, like “Dave” and other programs on this list, have enough members actually seen it to make an impact?
“Grace and Frankie”
Seven seasons in and the Netflix stalwart has earned 11 Emmy nominations including four for Lily Tomlin’s work alone. It’s probably a reach at this point, but this is where the power of Netflix during a stay-at-home pandemic might give it a boost.
Listen, every season of Mike Judge’s takedown of tech culture has been nominated, but it ended its six and final season this spring with as much of a whimper as “Modern Family.” We’re not so sure it makes it this time around.
“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”
This could be a major surprise, but “Zoey” feels like it needs one more season under its belt and a ton of binge-watching to make it. If it had been on a streamer? Potentially a lock.
Despite the pedigree of Vicki Jones and Phoebe Waller-Bridge we just don’t buy it. Ratings have been weak and it has so little buzz outside of continued industry love for star Merritt Wever. We’ve learned not to doubt HBO’s clout, but a nod here would earn a major “wow.”
You forgot the third season was even released this Emmy calendar year, didn’t you?
In theory, it could have been a contender, but hard to imagine Kenya Barris‘ Netflix debut earning a nod here after its polarizing debut.
Likely lost among the fog of so many contenders.
A five-time winner, “Modern Family” was a quintessential program of the ’10s. Considering it ended an 11 season run with a bit of thud, we’d be surprised if it earned its first nod here since 2017.
This was one polarizing show. Ryan Murphy‘s Emmy chances are probably much stronger with “Hollywood” in the limited series category.
I mean, not after those reviews, right?
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