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.
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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.
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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.