×

‘Community’ student Abed analyzes the Emmys

Pop culture guru ABBA-plectic about Emmys

Hi, I’m Abed Nadir, a film major at Greendale Community College. The editors of this paper have asked me to share my 2011 Best Comedy Emmy pick, I’m assuming as part of some diversity program.

No surprises among the favorites this year, probably because surprising people isn’t a favorite’s function. I’m told that “The Big C,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Modern Family,” “The Office,” “30 Rock” and “Big Bang Theory” are what everyone’s talking about, and “everyone” must include whoever gives Emmys.

My pick? Well, I haven’t seen these shows, but I do have a system. First, eliminate the longest-running and highest-rated shows. The Emmys are about a revolution of sophistication. If “The Office” is revolutionary, why isn’t it canceled? If “Big Bang Theory” is sophisticated, why is everyone watching it? They’re out.

I sort the last four into two groups: a) shows that have won an Emmy, so it seems like they’ll win again, and b) shows that haven’t won yet, so it seems like their turn. Sorting every winner since “I Love Lucy” in 1953:

B A B B A B A B B AA B B AB B A A B B AA A B A A B B A B B A B A B A A B B A A A A B B B B B B A B B A A B

The “ABBA” pattern emerges soon and repeats often, as people’s urge to shake up a system always results in systemic shaking. I totally get it: I once missed a week of school by trying not to touch my chin 7,000 times. The stretches of non-ABBA you see are “cable scares,” like when we just kept giving Emmys to “Frasier” until “Larry Sanders” went away. Think of TV as Rain Man getting through HBO’s smoke alarm by chanting “I like the guy from Cheers.”

Since HBO is currently scaring nobody, we have to assume we’re one “B” into an ABBA, specifically the second in a classic ’61 double-ABBA, with “30 Rock” as “Phil Silvers” and “Modern Family” as “Jack Benny.” I probably don’t have to explain this.

That means “Modern Family” is out, as everyone assuming it’s a shoe-in will now accidentally shoe-in an upset. Also, my friend Shirley says that show is about “thumbing noses at the book of Leviticus.” Don’t know what that means but sounds boring. “Hogan’s Heroes” thumbed their noses at the German army — where’s their nomination?

Also gone: “30 Rock.” It’s won before, so it wouldn’t be the “B” ABBA needs. I know what you’re saying. “Abed, what about the 1989-1992 ‘Cheers’/ ‘Murphy Brown’ Seizure?” Those were different times, competition-wise. This is a golden age of TV, meaning, there’s more stuff to watch than there are people watching. We will not flee back to Tina Fey because there’s no Delta Burke trying to eat us.

So it’s between “Parks” and “The Big C.” My friend Shirley says a magazine said “Parks and Rec” is the “smartest comedy on TV” (yet another insult to a much smarter sitcom with which I am intimately acquainted … starts with a “C,” ends with “ougar Town”). And “Parks” is on NBC, safe from the tarnish of ratings. “The Big C,” on the other hand, has the advantage of only having to be mildly humorous to be considered hysterically funny. Laugh once at cancer, you’re laughing A LOT.

That’s when simple logic enters the picture: We’ll give it to “The Big C” this year, because we know it’s their only chance to get it. By next year, Laura Linney’s character will either have died, or the “Fonz” of her diagnosis will have “grown the beard” of remission.

“The Big C”‘s victory will be an upset, but not an outrage. My friend Shirley says Showtime magazine truly believes it’s an Emmy-worthy comedy, and if it’s not, why would they spend so much money saying so?

The outrage will be in 2012, when “Parks” lines up for its turn, only to watch the Emmy go to “Modern Family.” To misquote my Dad: The will of ABBA will not be denied.

Excelsior!

ROAD TO THE EMMYS: COMEDY
New comedies might not make big Emmy splash | Serious business at ‘Big Bang’ table read | Comedy conundrum: Dark and stormy vs. light | ‘Community’ student Abed analyzes the Emmys | Veteran contenders | Where it began for top comedies | Rookie comedies enter Emmy race

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Jonas Leijonhufvud and Sven Carlsson

    Yellow Bird U.K. Developing 'Spotify Untold' Limited Series

    Yellow Bird U.K. has optioned the screen rights to tell-all book “Spotify Untold” with plans to develop it into a limited series for television. Sven Carlsson and Jonas Leijonhufvud’s novel details the story behind the Swedish start-up which became one of the world’s leading music services and its attempts to take on U.S. giants including [...]

  • Amy Sherman-Palladino, Daniel Palladino, Robin Urdang.

    The Emmys Allowed Music Supervisors In, But Tension With the TV Academy Remains

    It’s been a long road to Television Academy acceptance for music supervisors. In 2015, after years of lobbying, music supervisors gained entry to the music branch. In 2017, they got their own category at the Emmys, but weren’t allowed to vote in any other music competition. This year, music supervisors can vote in all seven [...]

  • 'Mrs. Maisel,' 'Pen15,' 'Queer Eye' Get

    Emmys 2019: Streamers Turn to Stunts for Final Voting Campaigns

    When billboards and magazine ads aren’t enough to grab more attention during prime Emmy voting time, streaming services are using all of Los Angeles as their stage. Screenings and Q&A panels with series casts and producers are essential for exposure ahead of nomination-round voting, and during that March-to-June window, social-media friendly activations and stunts have [...]

  • The Righteous GemstonesAdam Devine, Danny McBride,

    TV Ratings: 'The Righteous Gemstones' Debuts to 850,000 Viewers on HBO

    HBO’s newest comedy “The Righteous Gemstones” posted a solid ratings debut. The Danny McBride series premiered to 844,000 total viewers across all the cabler’s platforms, which represents the strongest opening for a comedy on HBO since the comedian’s “Vice Principals” launched to 1.2 million eyeballs in 2016. The “Gemstones” premiere averaged a touch under 600,000 [...]

  • Conan O'Brien

    Why Conan O'Brien Moved Beyond Late-Night TV

    When Conan O’Brien signed his latest deal with TBS, he didn’t just agree to keep his late-night talk show on the air for another four years. In addition to hosting “Conan,” he promised to create digital content, podcasting, live tours, and other forms of entertainment. It wasn’t just an attempt to make more money or [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content