Emmy Comedy Series Showdown: ‘Transparent’ vs. ‘Veep’

The headline of the comedy race is, of course, the question of whether “Modern Family” will claim its sixth consecutive crown, breaking its current tie with “Frasier” for the all-time record. Yet two series may play spoiler: Amazon proved it could be a contender in the awards race with its Golden Globe win for “Transparent,” the delicately nuanced story of a family patriarch who comes out as transgender. And HBO’s “Veep” soared to new comic heights in its fourth season, as Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ politico continued to fumble in her quixotic quest for political power.

THE ODDS

The safe bet may well be with “Modern Family.” Just look at this season’s clever “Connection Lost” episode, filmed entirely on all manner of Apple technology. But all dynasties must eventually come to an end. Keen-eyed prognosticators say momentum has shifted to a pair of formidable women. Louis-Dreyfus has owned the lead actress race for the last two years; this may be the year voters decide to recognize her show. And much as she won over her family, “Transparent’s” Maura Pfefferman may win over the TV Academy.

THE CASE FOR ‘TRANSPARENT’

Two words: Jeffrey Tambor. The actor delivered the performance of the year as Maura Pfefferman. That the show serves its other characters just as well is part of the brilliance — Maura’s children struggle in their own way, as does his ex-wife, played so poignantly and hilariously by Judith Light. Jill Soloway’s sensitive, soulful family dramedy proved amazingly prescient — not only putting Amazon on the television map but also driving national conversation about trans issues before we’d ever heard the name Caitlyn Jenner.

THE CASE FOR ‘VEEP

As we’re seeing now offscreen, the road to the White House is not a smooth one — and Selina Meyer stumbled as much as ever in her fourth season. “Veep,” which has one of TV’s most nimble ensembles, deepened its bench with the addition of Hugh Laurie as Selina’s running mate and unapologetic scene- and stage-stealer. Of course, her staff is still as incompetent as ever — witness the botched State of the Union and the scramble for the Constitution when there’s an Electoral College tie. Might the same thing happen with Emmy?

THE COMPETITION

“Louie” (FX)
Never one to play to the mainstream, Louis C.K.’s comedy was as idiosyncratic as ever in its fifth season.

“Modern Family” (ABC)
To be sure, momentum lies with the family comedy, but some may want to see the torch pass to the next generation.

“Parks and Recreation” (NBC)
Nostalgia for the series’ final season could sway a few voters in favor of the Amy Poehler starrer.

“Silicon Valley” (HBO)
The tech geeks of Pied Piper, who play underdogs on the show, may find themselves in a similar role in this tough race.

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)
The Ellie Kemper romp may prove too lightweight given the other contenders in the category.

 

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