EMMYS: Comedy Series Overview

Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.

With every passing year, it becomes tougher for a winning show like ABC’s Modern Family to take home the biggest Emmy prize. Family is trying to win its fourth consecutive series statuette, something that NBC’s 30 Rock couldn’t manage after winning three in a row from 2007-09. Standing in the show’s way this time is a formidable quintet headed by FX’s Louie as well as 30 Rock, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory (trying to win for the first time in its third nomination) and a pair of one-word HBO longshots: Veep and Girls. It’s noteworthy that the show that could perhaps have given Family the most trouble, the Netflix reboot of Arrested Development, failed even to land a nomination. However, cable series earned three of the six category slots.

Related: EMMYS: Drama Series Overview


This season was chock-full of special moments, including one in which Sheldon (Jim Parsons) spanks Amy (Mayim Bialik) and another featuring a guest appearance by Bob Newhart. Upsets happen, and you just never know. It’s tough for a show to win for the first time in its sixth season. Too tough, in this case. It’s tougher still for a series from the stable of creator Chuck Lorre, who gets less respect than he should as one of television’s most successful producers.

Related: EMMYS: Drama Lead Acting Handicap


Girls is the kind of controversial show that the TV Academy likes to reward because it makes voters look bold. The show enjoyed a much-talked-about second season. Plus, star-writer-producer-director Lena Dunham appears to have young voters in her back pocket. Unfortunately, there aren’t nearly enough young voters in this academy for it to matter. Some of the freshness of the brash, shocking conceit dissipated in Season 2, and a Dunham backlash appears to continue.


Already considered the coolest comedy on television by the comedy community, Louie upped its game with a sublime arc featuring Parker Posey as Louie’s girlfriend. This remains the little show that could, and star Louis C.K.’s creative freedom continues to be the toast of the industry. The show hasn’t been seen in originals since last September, an awfully long period out of sight. And voters might feel funny giving such a major award to an FX comedy, simply because they never have before.


In having won the Emmy during its first three years of eligibility, this comedy lives with some pretty elite company. Only three shows in TV history have won at least four times: All In The Family and Cheers (four) and Frasier (five). But Modern Family had another great year. Winning four straight times is a rare feat, and there is a lot of heat being generated by Louie in particular. There could also be sentiment to give 30 Rock a farewell kiss in its final season. A desire to honor new (or at least different) blood could carry the day.


The show won here in its first three years of eligibility, before Modern Family took three in a row. It would be poetic justice were Rock to snap Family’s streak in its final opportunity. It has sentiment—and a superb hour-long finale—on its side. Sentiment takes a series only so far. And probably not far enough this time. When a show wins three in row then loses three in a row, it generally doesn’t win again. At least, that’s the way to bet.


The Julia Louis-Dreyfus series hit something of a stride in Season 2 and is in the unique position of being a show that pretty much everyone likes. It has built momentum nicely, the kind that could carry it all the way to the top. Veep doesn’t have nearly enough momentum to pull off an upset, lacking the sort of buzz that Modern Family has had from day one and Louie from roughly day three. HBO also has won in the category just once, with Sex And The City in 2001.

Related: EMMYS: Drama Supporting Acting Handicap

  1. Always sunny and workaholics have never been nominated yet a sub standard show like veep has how many noms? How many has Kaitlin Olson have? NONE!!! Another case in point that hollywood is like a high school. All politics

    1. You are correct to whine on behalf of Always Sunny–great and unappreciated. Unfortunately, no one was watching it when it was at its very best and what happened in the last season when the actor/writers started farming out the scripts and phoning in their work (distracted by things like Pacific Rim, maybe? or getting rich?) was nothing to crow about. There are better reasons than “politics” to describe why Sunny didn’t become Cheers or Seinfeld. If they hadn’t had the freedom that comes with low-exposure, the show wouldn’t be as good as it was and wouldn’t have laid the groundwork for all of the great cable half-hours being made now (and watched streaming on Netflix, etc).

      You are a fool, though, to call Veep “sub standard”. Stupid things get written in the comments here as everywhere but that’s going beyond.

    1. So what you are saying is that in a category that’s for the best comedy, you are going to vote for a show that you admit isn’t the best. Gotcha.

      And people wonder how shows like Veep get nominated. It has nothing to do with quality.

      1. Well, if what you think is the best comedy isn’t nominated, you vote for the best of your limited options. Not that hard to figure out.

  2. Can we please stop pretending Arrested Development was award worthy? “…could have given Modern Family the most trouble?” its warmed over, and not even very good at that. Stop please.

  3. Emmys are particularly tough to project, especially when you are mixing at least 3 distribution platforms – “conventional” network, basic cable, and premium cable. “Conventional” network has the most restrictive filters (language, content, etc.) nut often – not always – reaches the largest viewership. Basic and premium cable can get away with so much more, but don’t always have as deep a reach.

    While I have no love or respect for Lorre, it is hard to dispute the ratings juggernaut that is BBT. It continually beats other network shows, even when it airs reruns. It is not as cool or edgy as cable offerings, but it is a highly successful program. They do deserve a “best” nod, but this late in their run it may be a giant leap for Academy voters. BBT may have to settle for other awards as well as its syndication profits.

    It would be a nice gesture to award 30 Rock now that it is gone, but the Academy isn’t necessarily concerned about being “nice”. 30 Rock was one of the very few positives on NBC, constantly biting the hand that fed it. While it lives on further up the dial, it would be hard to imagine Academy voters giving it the nod this time around.

    A bold choice would be to award either Louie or Veep with the top prize, rather than the polarizing Girls. (I’ve never particularly warmed to Modern Family, so it wouldn’t be a shame to see the award go somewhere else.) My personal vote of these 5 would be for Louie.

  4. I really don’t understand what makes Louie such a threat to Modern Family to be honest. I watched a couple of episodes and, while i found it to be well made, it wasn’t funny. It’s not this brilliant piece of art so I’m really baffled by all the love it’s getting. Though, if a fan of the show can suggest a couple of episodes that can change my mind, that’s be great.
    I binge-watched Modern Family and VEEP a while back, and they really made me laugh. 30 Rock’s finale was pretty good, but the show went off the air back in January so i don’t think people would be so enthusiastic about it now.
    I doubt BBT and Girls would win.

    1. The quality varied from episode to episode, particularly in season 1, but it gets really strong (and profound) in season 2–it’s also one of the most formally innovative and utterly unpredictable shows on television. Check out the three-episode arc in this past season when Louie’s in contention for a job hosting the Late Show.

  5. the funniest show on television is “THE MIDDLE”, but since that’s not on this list — “Big Bang” all the way.

    funny has nothing to do with what one can or cannot get away with in terms of content. it’s a ridiculous argument.

  6. 30 Rock is in a league of its own. The only shows that could give it a run for its money are Cougar Town or the (very) early seasons of The Office (s1-4), Community (s1) Parks and Recreation (s1-2). I admit this season of The Office was actually good, but that’s beside the point as none of these are nominated. I agree that, unfortunately, 30 Rock is yesyerday Emmy news. But really what’s more deserving? Modern Family on its best day couldn’t hold a candle to any of the series I named, and especially not to Rock which has been the most consistent of the bunch throuhgout its run. That said, I think we’re witnessing another Lost/Mad Men situation, i.e. a final season “farewell” loss vs. a fourth year win. Fourth year win it is for Modern Family.

  7. Official Prediction is VEEP.
    Second place goes to Modern Family.
    Third place is 30 Rock and Louie, but they’re long-shots.

    No way does Girls or Big Bang take it.

  8. I agree entirely with the conveniently titled “my name”, Veep is simply NOT substandard. I personally prefer it to any of the seasons of Always Sunny. Workaholics is good ridiculous fun but with the glaring exception of Big Bang theory I personally enjoy all these shows and think its a great time for TV comedy, despite the loss of Thursday night NbC programming (partially due to greats like 30 rock leaving, partially due to complete idiocy at NBC). Those are my personal feelings, anyone here declaring their opinions to be the gospel truth is a deluded fool.

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