As they did in the Drama Series category with Game Of Thrones last year, HBO also finally broke the stranglehold of a regular victor—Modern Family, after five straight wins—with the emergence of Veep, which endured losses for three straight years before finally bagging the Comedy Series Emmy. Much of the competition it faces this season consists of repeaters from last year, including, of course, Modern Family; HBO stablemate Silicon Valley; Amazon’s Transparent; and the Netflix hit Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
ABC, singlehandedly holding up the flag for the four broadcast networks in Emmy’s top two categories by nabbing two nods for its Wednesday night comedies, got a first-time nomination for second-season sitcom Black-ish to go with its seventh for Modern Family. Netflix also has two chances for a breakthrough win in a top Emmy category, with Aziz Ansari’s Master Of None being the only first-season series to make the grade with Emmy voters in the comedy.
Last year, this smart African-American sitcom cracked the Emmy acting race with a nod for star Anthony Anderson, but nothing else. For its second season, it added Tracee Ellis Ross in Lead Comedy Actress and broke into Comedy Series to triple its number of Emmy chances. It is movin’ on up and hoping to regain the family comedy momentum that ABC’s Modern Family had all those years. It is also the most diverse entry in a year when diversity seems to matter more than ever.
Master of None
This personal comedy series from Aziz Ansari is unlike any in the category, and it scored four nominations—all seemingly for its star—on its first try. Netflix is also very good about loosening the campaign purse strings, so we can expect a big push to try and pull off an upset freshman win.
One of the great success stories of all time in the Comedy Series category, Modern Family won this Emmy for its first five years of existence, something only Frasier managed to pull off before it. Now in its seventh season and seventh consecutive nomination, the big question is this: Are voters finally tired of it?
Although its stablemate Veep has had more overall success at the Emmys, don’t write off this critical favorite and wildly funny show, that has now earned its third consecutive Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series—and it is indeed outstanding in every respect. With 11 nominations this year, it has doubled its total from years one and two, and that means it is on a definite path forward with Emmy voters. But HBO has another dog in this hunt, and that complicates its chances.
With five wins in its first season, and another 10 nominations this year, the game-changing dramedy is obviously an instant Emmy hit. Many thought it would triumph in this category on its first time out last season, but it fell short, perhaps because the transgender storyline also sometimes heads in dramatic directions, making it more of an in-betweener. Considering it once again has to face Veep, its chances might be better in other Emmy races, particularly for Lead Comedy Actor.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Netflix spent big to get this second-season sitcom into the consciousness of voters, and it has paid off handsomely with recognition in this category for two years in a row. Unfortunately, the show is already showing diminishing returns at the Emmys with its nomination total nearly sliced in half from 2015’s seven noms to 2016’s four.
Like House of Cards, it seems Veep, which just gets better with age, will benefit from the fact that it is an election year. And it’s all the more timely since it deals with a female president. After four nominations, it finally broke the stranglehold that Modern Family had on this category, and now with its fifth nom it looks to prove it is the real deal: an agent of change that had more going for it than its multi-Emmy winning cast members, most notably Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
PETE’S PICK: There’s no question about it; it’s Veep, in the year of Clinton and Trump.
This post was originally published August 23, 2016.