Emmys 2017: Was the TV Academy on Autopilot When Nominating Comedies?

Emmys 2017: Was the TV Academy

At first glance, this year’s Emmy noms may seem like a boon for new programs. A whopping five freshman shows are nominated for best drama series, projecting a considerable sense of freshness. But when you cast the spotlight over to the comedy side, it’s difficult to shake a sense of stagnancy.

Granted, across the major categories (series, acting, directing, writing), more comedies were Emmy-nominated overall this year than dramas — 17 to 15. But FX’s “Atlanta” (best series, lead actor, directing and writing) and “Better Things” (lead actress) were the only two new comedies recognized on July 13.

It seems as if every year the same question lurks going into nominations: How much will voters revert to standbys in the face of the ongoing peak TV glut? Among other things, the presence of ABC’s “Modern Family” in the comedy series category suggests a level of autopilot may have kicked in. That’s a shame, given such a vibrant field of contenders.

We’re approaching the height of auteur-driven comedy in many ways, yet shows such as Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s “Fleabag” (Amazon), with such a singular point of view, walked away empty-handed. So, too, did Issa Rae’s “Insecure” (HBO) and Tig Notaro’s “One Mississippi” (Amazon). Jill Soloway’s “I Love Dick” (Amazon) may have been divisive, but Kathryn Hahn was a stand-out in a very competitive lead actress field and still failed to secure a nom. (She did, however, land a supporting notice for Soloway’s “Transparent”).

Sharon Horgan’s “Catastrophe” (Amazon) barely managed to squeak in with a guest actress nomination for the late Carrie Fisher after landing a writing nomination last year. Meanwhile, Lena Dunham’s “Girls” (HBO) closed out its run with one of its strongest seasons to date, yet could only muster love for guest actors Riz Ahmed and Matthew Rhys.

Then there are ongoing shows including Netflix’s “Love” and FXX’s “You’re the Worst,” which remain unsung underdogs seemingly destined to be ignored every season.

Drilling deeper into the nominations, it’s clear rubber-stamping occurred. Matt Walsh was excellent and duly nominated for “Veep” last season, but this year his part was back-burnered, giving co-star Timothy Simons more room to shine. Yet Walsh passed on through. And what about Andrew Rannells in “Girls,” or Brian Tyree Henry in “Atlanta,” deserving players who might have given, say, “Modern Family’s” Ty Burrell a vacation from the circuit?

Also: three supporting actress nominations for “Saturday Night Live?” Did Allison Janney’s category shift for “Mom” really leave such a hole to fill? Admittedly it was not the most competitive field, but Rita Moreno (Netflix’s “One Day at a Time”), Kether Donohue (FXX’s “You’re the Worst”) and Kimberly Hebert Gregory (HBO’s ”Vice Principals”) are just a few contenders who could have used a serious look.

It’s easy to complain, and maybe a bit unfair as well. This has been one of the busiest Emmy seasons in history. It’s difficult for campaigns to break through all that noise to reach 21,000-plus voting members of the TV Academy, and even more difficult for those members to find the time to be responsible voters. Nevertheless, it would have been nice to see the same au courant flourishes throughout the comedy categories that we got with the dramas.

However, what we do have is a quality assortment of programming. In particular, repeated Academy love for “Black-ish” and “Master of None” is refreshing. Kenya Barris continues to tap the zeitgeist with aplomb on his ABC sitcom, while Aziz Ansari builds outstanding showcases for the underrepresented on his Netflix series.

It was also nice to see Zach Galifianakis join co-star Louie Anderson on the ballot for FX’s “Baskets.”That’s a high-wire act that felt a bit under-appreciated last year. And Donald Glover’s “Atlanta” was one of the most exciting shows of the year, and thankfully it was remembered despite airing in the fall.

And though we all knew they were destined for nominations, it’s great to see Alec Baldwin and Melissa McCarthy’s “Saturday Night Live” send-ups of Donald Trump and Sean Spicer, respectively, make the cut. It’s hard not to pull for them both to win.

Going forward there will only be more new comedies to add to the mix, so maybe it’s time to take a step away from “Modern Family,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” and even “Veep.” There is simply too much deserving new blood watching the Emmy competition unfold from the sidelines.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 20

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. You know I know that the Netflix and Amazon programs are the new cool to get nominations from, but I am saddened every year to see Eden Sher not get a nomination for her comedic performance in The Middle. the show is mediocre but her performance is legendary. Hopefully, someone will recognize it in the show’s last season next year

  2. S says:

    they can’t step away from nominating “Kimmy Schmidt” until Tituss Burgess wins the Emmy he has deserved for the past 3 years running. He consistently has the funniest submission but loses. Emmys: cast your vote, he’s Lemonading!

  3. Adam Cartwright says:

    F*#k Veep. Every single year with that mediocre junk. No better than generic stuff like Parks & Recreation, Modern Family, or barely better than godawful shit like Big Bang or Two broke Girls. And I Love Dick got old as hell after 3-4 episodes. Forget that twee, vomitously cutsie Kimmy Schmidt crap, or dull ass Baskets. And Aziz Ansari? Ansari but, that show’s vastly overrated, just as I expected. Atlanta, Fleabag, People Of Earth, Cartmichael Show and Dream Corp LLC are the only shows to consistently make me laugh in their most recent season. Catastrophe was more drama than comedy this season. Haven’t seen Bob’s Burgers’ recent season.

  4. Brian Meister says:

    So many good comedies on television completely ignored by Emmy. Same old, same old. Just like Emmy always is in comedy. One ignored show that is brilliant and has two comedy icons in it, Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, yet can’t make the cut for any Emmy recognition is Pop’s ‘Schitt’s Creek’ ‘Schitt’s Creek’ has been an absolutely fantastic show from father and son Eugene and Daniel Levy. Catherine O’Hara was consistently hilarious as ‘Moira Rose’ this year and should have gotten a Best Actress nod for sure. The show itself was easily one of the five best comedies on television as well. Also would it have killed anyone to add Bruce Campbell to the Best Actor List for his revival of ‘Ashley Williams’ on ‘Ash vs. The Evil Dead’? Another icon, another missed opportunity to add someone who has paid his dues many times over. ‘You’re the Worst’ Chris Geere and Aya Cash seem to put everything they have into their roles as Jimmy and Gretchen and the show just continued to get better in a stellar Season 2. Or the one that continues to frustrate is another no nomination for Emmy Rossum for Fiona Gallagher on ‘Shameless’. Love it that Macy got a nom but this really wasn’t a big season for ‘Frank’ it was for Rossum. At least she got paid her worth. It’s a real shame that the comedy awards continue to bore and continue to ignore some really inspired comedy out there.

    • Adam Cartwright says:

      I’ll check out Schitt’s Creek, but I don’t expect much as Levy hasn’t been funny for 20 years or more, and has done tons of utter s*#t like the American Pie movies and the like for decades. Ash vs. the Evil Dead’s 1st season sucked. The nerdy pussy guy was godawful and the supposed ‘badass’ girl character was crap. You’re the Worst is the worst. Sorry, I’m not a 20 or 30-something gay man, or a mindless female who lives for social media and catty talk about others 24/7. And shameless is just regurgitation year after year.

  5. Pretty much all I do in my free time is watch television, and yet…I have never watched the emmys. This strikes me as odd.

  6. “It’s hard not to pull for them both to win.” Yes it is. Divorced from the politics are you really suggesting that Baldwin deserves to win over Louie Anderson? That his portrayal of Trump is that far elevated above Tony Hale, Matt Walsh or Titus Burgess? Really?

  7. Morgan says:

    “Kimmy Schmidt” is only in its third season, has dwindled in nomination count and never been nominated for any writing or directing awards so I don’t see why you name checked it but everything is I agree on.

  8. Laurel Lane says:

    For the first time in my lifetime, I will not be tuning in to the Emmy’s this year. With Colbert hosting, I don’t need to listen to a two-hour plus rant against the president. Sick of hearing it.

    • Adam Cartwright says:

      You would if it was a president for the other party, hypocrite.

      • Greg Snyder says:

        Adam–Thanks for the inarticulate and extremely scatalogical retort to my comment. Still taking your ADD Meds? Your prose wanders aimlessly like an Antifa stooge on meth. Could you be watching too much TV?

        Name-calling in lieu of intelligent debate pinpoints you between 8th grade and a GED. Why are you so compelled to vigorously defend a conceited millionaire actor like Colbert? (He’s not real,Adam, he’s on TV.) As you said about POTUS, Colbert doesn’t care if you “die tomorrow”(really, who does?)

        Oh yeah, what’s my not watching the show have to do with “hatemongering”(sic) and “uptight a**hats” anyway? Oh, you crazy Millennials! Now I get it–your reply was (as you say), “a fu*#in joke”.

        Adam, were you watching TV while writing your reply? That’s just too much TV, it’s not real, Hoss. The couch you’re on in your parents’ basement is real. Calm down and take the meds. Good joke, Adam.

    • Greg SnyderN says:

      Laurel: Couldn’t agree more. Colbert’s opening monologue will be full of hate and derisiveness. The stoned stooges in the audience will eat it up. These pampered millionaires all drink the same Koolaid and Colbert will Ringmaster the 3-Ring circus called Emmys 2017.

      There will be the obligatory bowing to the historical revisionists who, with the ubiquitous ANTIFA thugs, actually started the Charlottesville
      debacle by agitating, then attacking the Alt Right morons. POTUS was “right on” when declaring it was both sides’ faults.

      Perhaps there will be Happy Days reruns or a
      Three Stooges marathon on somewhere.

      • Adam Cartwright says:

        Defending that moronic POS bastard who conspires against his own country with Russia and couldn’t give a sh*# less if you died tmw. says far more about you than anything Colbert could say. Lighten the hell up and learn how to take a fu*#in’ joke, you typical uptight right-wing, hatemongering a**hat.

      • Jk says:

        you are a couple of uneducated and hateful people, blame Colbert for telling the truth about Trump, blame Antifa for the Nazis killing Heather in Virginia. are you nuts?, you may not agree with the liberals, they maybe smug, but you know that they’re right Trump is a disaster, deal with it

  9. Modern Family is Ancient Garbage

    • Greg Snyder says:

      Jk, why equivocate? Just come out and say what you really mean. I’ve been called lots of things but “uneducated” has never been one of them. Thanks to the GI BILL, I have consumed just under a ton-and-a-half of education, thank you.

      That’s just enough to know when to use the adverb “maybe” versus verb phrase “may be”. More importantly, it also let me know better than to depend on entertainers like Colbert as my main news source or worse yet, as one of my ideological touchstones.

      My comment concerned why I won’t be watching the Emmys program. Your reply was an inarticulate screed against me, POTUS, and everything not right with the universe. In future, Jk, stay on topic and remain in your own weight class. You’re not skillfull enough to box at this level. But, hey, your overly-convincing comment sufficiently embarrassed me to where I’ll now watch–and relish–every last second of Colbert and Emmys 2017. Thanks, Jk.

  10. Hector B. says:

    I mean like Why is Teen titans go even nominated? That show is absolute garbage🤢🤢

More TV News from Variety