No lie, “Poker Face” will enter the Emmy awards race as a comedy. The show is an hour-long whodunit but also contains plenty of comedic elements, which is why Peacock has decided to enter it in that lane. News comes as awards consultants across town make the final decision on where to place their programs, as the Television Academy officially opens this year’s Emmy submissions starting Feb. 21.
For example, on Friday, Variety exclusively reported that HBO’s “The White Lotus” would submit in the drama space, after the TV Academy ruled that it no longer qualified as a limited series (due to the return of star Jennifer Coolidge)
In the case of “Poker Face,” the decision to enter in comedy comes as the show continues earn strong reviews from critics. “Poker Face” is currently “99% certified fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite its whodunit nature, insiders note that Lyonne is widely seen as a comedic actor — her previous series, Netflix’s “Russian Doll,” also mixed comedy and drama but was entered in comedy categories (receiving nominations in 2019 for best comedy and lead comedy actress, for Lyonne, as well as for two different episodes in comedy writing).
Peacock also took into consideration the fact that another Johnson whodunit franchise, “Knives Out” (and sequel “Glass Onion”) were primarily submitted and nominated in comedy film categories across various awards shows.
And then there’s the background of the “Poker Face” directors, who come primarily with comedy backgrounds – Iain B. MacDonald (2014 Emmy nominee in comedy directing for “Episodes”), Tiffany Johnson (whose credits include mostly comedies like “Black Monday”) and Ben Sinclair, who has directed primarily comedy series (such as “Dave” and “High Maintenance”).
“Poker Face” reps Academy Award nominee Rian Johnson’s first TV series; MRC TV produces along with T-Street and Lyonne’s production banner Animal Pictures. Johnson is the creator/writer/director and EP, while EPs also include Lyonne, Ram Bergman, Natasha Lyonne, Nena Rodrigue and Iain B. MacDonald. Showrunners/EPs are Nora Zuckerman and Lilla Zuckerman, while Maya Rudolph and Danielle Renfrew Behrens are billed as co-EPs.
Guest stars include Adrien Brody, Angel Desai, Audrey Corsa, Benjamin Bratt, Brandon Michael Hall, Charles Melton, Chelsea Frei, Cherry Jones, Chloë Sevigny, Clea DuVall, Colton Ryan, Danielle MacDonald, Dascha Polanco, Ellen Barkin, Hong Chau, Jasmine Aiyana Garvin, Jack Alcott, Jameela Jamil, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Judith Light, Leslie Silva, Lil Rel Howery, Luis Guzmán, Megan Suri, Niall Cunningham, Nicholas Cirillo, Nick Nolte, Reed Birney, Rhea Perlman, Ron Perlman, Rowan Blanchard, S. Epatha Merkerson, Shane Paul McGhie, Simon Helberg, Stephanie Hsu, Tim Blake Nelson and Tim Meadows.