In the past, Emmy voters tended to like one show and then let it repeat for several seasons as the champ in the Comedy Series category. Until very recently, just three series enjoyed multiple runs at the gold: there were three wins in a row for 30 Rock, followed by five wins in a row for Modern Family, then three wins in a row for Veep. However, in recent Emmy Awards the winner in this category has gone to three different shows in as many years: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2018), Fleabag (2019), and Schitt’s Creek (2020).
In all those cases the win was overwhelming, but also came with their first nominations as Best Comedy Series (and in the case of the latter pair, in their final season). What’s interesting about the race this year is that none of them will be defending their crown, since Fleabag and Schitt’s Creek are history, and Mrs. Maisel did not appear with a new season during this year’s eligibility dates. So whatever wins among the eight nominees we have in 2021, it is guaranteed that, for the fourth year in a row, we’ll have a fresh victor in the Comedy Series category. Here is the rundown of the nominees. Scroll down for the predicted winner.
After earning nominations in this category in 2016, 17, and 18, it returns to the race this year after failing to make the cut for the past two years. With 24 nominations in total over its seven seasons, the show has only won one Emmy— for Outstanding Contemporary Hairstyling—in that time. It also represents the sole nominee this year for Best Comedy Series from any broadcast network. Can it possibly win, or will voters decide to wait to crown it in its announced final season next year?
Cobra Kai, Netflix
One of three nominees from Netflix, the streamer which has never won here, Cobra Kai was on YouTube for its first two seasons but only managed a couple of stunt coordinator nominations. This third season was shot before the series officially announced its move to Netflix, and the switch seems to have made all the difference—it received four nominations, including the big one here. Its presence may seem a bit of a surprise, but this homage to The Karate Kid in middle age is a real crowd-pleaser, and it has slowly but steadily been catching on.
Emily in Paris, Netflix
Another first-timer in the race for Netflix is this popular new series set in the City of Lights – popular, that is, with everyone but critics, who blasted the Golden Globes for nominating it and were then shocked when Emmy voters followed suit. Full disclosure: I am one of those Emmy voters who marked their ballot for this colorful charmer. Darren Star’s delightful series clearly struck the right notes to score this nod, and why not? Its chances for a win are pretty much nil, but the fact that it’s in the race is victory itself.
The Flight Attendant, HBO Max
One of two shows from fledgling new streamer HBO Max, this mystery-comedy series starring Kaley Cuoco was an immediate hit—viewers, and Emmy voters, couldn’t binge it quickly enough when it debuted. Its international vibe certainly didn’t hurt on its way to garnering nine nominations overall, the third highest total in the category.
Hacks, HBO Max
The other entry from HBO Max was this new series about the relationship between a Joan Rivers-style Vegas comic and her new young writer, which is perhaps the show to watch out for in this category. It was late-breaking but immediately caught on—enough to score an impressive 15 nominations, despite coming in toward the end of the season. If there is a dark horse, it is probably this one—it immediately seemed to know exactly what it wanted to be and proceeded to deliver the goods.
The Kominsky Method, Netflix
Chuck Lorre’s three- season series for Netflix went out in style with a six-episode finale that seemed the perfect ending for a show about aging without giving in to old age. Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, in a return to the chemistry of past movies like Romancing the Stone and The War of the Roses, made this highly watchable. It is Netflix’s best chance to get a win in this category, since it represents the last chance to do so. Still, it’s an uphill climb.
After breaking through with writing nominations last year in its first season, this clever Hulu series lands its first nod in this category. Starring two 30-something actresses/creators/ writers playing their 13-year-old selves against real young actors of that age is as original as any show in the category. It gets seriously big points for pulling off a near- impossible premise and making it work.
Ted Lasso, AppleTV+
With 20 nominations overall—the largest total ever for a Comedy Series in its first season—this feelgood show stars Jason Sudeikis as the title character, a kind and likeable American soccer coach taking on an English team. A fish- out-of-water tale, it was immediately beloved, sweeping all the early precursor awards and enjoying record-breaking viewing figures for its perfectly Emmy-timed second season, which is now airing. The wind is at Ted Lasso’s back, and I would not bet against this frontrunner. It also already has won three Emmys at last weekend’s Creative Arts ceremonies (out of 7), and this week was anointed by the Television Critics Association by winning big for Achievement In Comedy, New Program, and Program of the Year. Good ‘ol Ted ought to be smiling widely on Sunday.
THE PREDICTED WINNER: TED LASSO
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