Emmy Preview: The Laughs
With the Emmys airing on ABC this Sunday, GFBRobot presents this three-part preview of the major categories. As we all know, half of the fun of these various award shows is disagreeing with the nominations and winners. So we’ll take a brief look at the most deserving nominees. They might not get the statue, but we can throw a little recognition their way.
While the Emmy voters and I tend to agree more or less in the drama categories, comedy is a measure of personal taste. If you’re a fan of Modern Family, the last few years have been great for you. As a fan of less recognized comedies like Parks and Recreation, Community, and Happy Endings, it’s tough not seeing so many performances I consider more than worthy ignored. But still, you’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt and there are some very deserving nominees that I’ll be pulling for on September 23rd, so off we go.
Louie C.K. (Louie) — Lena Dunham (Girls) — Chris McKenna (Community) — Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) — Michael Schur (Parks and Recreation)
One of the least regarded categories for most people, this is as close as I can get to my own best comedy series category. If Dunham and exec-producer Judd Apatow’s script for “The Return” was nominated instead of the show’s pilot here, I might shock some of my friends and give the freshman dramedy the thumbs up. Instead it’s a battle royale between a strong episode of Louis C.K.’s terrific series, two of the better scripts of the best comedy on TV, or “Remedial Chaos Theory”, the reality bending and probably most daring and experimental nominee. Parks is by far the more consistent series, but “The Debate” and “Win, Lose, Or Draw” were strong if unspectacular nominees. But just judging the submitted episode gave Community an edge. The attempt to explore what each character adds to the collective (by having each member go pick up the pizza in a different reality) was wonderfully funny and thought-provoking. Should win: Chris McKenna
Louie C.K. (Louie) — Lena Dunham (Girls) — Jake Kasdan (New Girl) — Steven Levitan (Modern Family) — Robert B. Weide (Curb Your Enthusiasm) — Jason Winer (Modern Family)
There wasn’t too much of a debate for me here, since none of the nominees are as visually dynamic as Girls, which did a fabulous job of using the New York setting to ground and enhance the story. That Dunham’s submitted episode “She Did” was one of the strongest episodes in the series made this a slam dunk. Should win: Lena Dunham
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) — Lena Dunham (Girls) — Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) — Tina Fey (30 Rock) — Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) — Melissa McCarthy (Mike and Molly) — Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation)
Falco is stuck as a comedic nominee on a show that I don’t find the least bit funny. And while that’s not the worst thing in the world, she isn’t beating this crowd. 30 Rock is a show that never really clicked for me, and Fey’s role the least so. Last year’s winner McCarthy follows Kristen Wiig as someone that I loved in the movies and don’t care for on TV. Dunham and Deschanel are welcome first-time nominees. Deschanel was charming in one of the few decent comedies to debut last year, but lacked the depth of the last two nominees. In Dunham’s case, I loved her more for her work behind the camera than in front of it.
But c’mon, no way was I going to miss the chance to recognize Poehler, who has taken her character (a former Michael Scott parody) to new heights this last season. Whether being goofy and crashing her campaign bus at the Newport press conference or exploring her romantic relationship with Ben, Poehler’s Leslie Knope is the engine that runs the best comedy on television. Should win: Amy Poehler
Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) — Louis C.K. (Louie) — Don Cheadle (House of Lies) — Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men) — Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) — Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory)
Cryer is our least deserving nominee, one of those names the Emmy voters get a hold of and won’t release until two years postmortem. Baldwin is the best part of a show that devolved from mediocre to bad in recent years. Parsons is the best part of a show held back by poor writing. Newcomer Cheadle might always have a soft spot in my heart for starring in Hotel Rwanda, but House of Lies was a terribly uneven show. When bad, it was horrendous. While David did some terrific work over Curb’s long run, I couldn’t imagine giving anyone the pick except Louis C.K. He might not have the funniest role on television, but it is one of the most affecting. Should win: Louis C.K.
Oustanding Comedy Series
30 Rock — The Big Bang Theory — Curb Your Enthusiasm — Girls — Modern Family — Veep
For the final choice, my selection was far more dramatic than the actual ceremony will be. Modern Family will win indefinitely unless the Emmy voters find a way to nominate it three or four times to siphon off votes from itself. Veep had a terrific cast, but I felt the jokes rarely worked well. It’s the first I’d like to get off this list, along with the well-past-its-prime 30 Rock. I’d much rather see Community and last year’s nominee Parks and Recreation. Big Bang Theory is a decent show. While the writing is at times weak, I’m fine with it’s placement here and in the acting categories.
The decision came down to the terrific newcomer Girls and long-time nominee Curb Your Enthusiasm. Each had their own highlights this season. Each had terrific performances that were backed up by brave writers unafraid to make their characters unsympathetic. How to choose between the meta-Seinfeld reunion and Hannah’s trip home to Michigan (and Peter Scolari’s weiner)? Curb is probably funnier, but unlike the Emmy voters I’m dying for something new. There hasn’t been a show this strong debuting in the last year and certainly only one or two on television with such an interesting and distinctive voice. Should win: Girls