As creator of Parks and Recreation, Mike Schur enjoyed a 2011 Emmy nomimation and a 2014 Globe nom for the show, but still, he was surprised this year when he received congratulatory texts following the Emmy nomination announcements, initially assuming they must be meant for Amy Poehler, who is once again nominated for the lead role of Leslie Knope. “The way it tends to go,” he says, “it’s like you’re sort of in the club for a while and then when they kick you out of the club you don’t get back in.” An alum of both SNL and The Office, Schur is also behind Brooklyn Nine-Nine and currently has a new NBC comedy show in the works. However, while he’ll reveal some new-season teasers from Brooklyn, of the newbie show he’s staying pretty tight-lipped, saying only, “The main character is a woman. That’s as public as I could possibly get without running the risk of having to retract everything I say.”
You believed at first the Emmy nom congratulations this year weren’t intended for the show as a whole–why did you think it was so off the radar?
Well honestly it’s just because of the way these things usually go, which is that the show got nominated in season three and then didn’t get nominated in season four. You know, 30 Rock won a couple times in a row and then they just stopped winning and at some point it was like, they don’t win anymore. It’s almost impossible to come back. It’s like the electorate sort of gets entranced by a new show, and then they go with that show for a while. When we didn’t get nominated again in Season 4 I thought, “That was really nice that one time but it’s not going to happen anymore.” Then it didn’t happen again so because of that, it just wasn’t something I was thinking about. I was only curious about Amy really, and I thought maybe they’d get a writing nomination, but the show itself it never even occurred to me.
You’ve said before you think Amy Poehler’s multiple-noms-no-wins situation is because people assume she’s already won…
I really believe that. That’s conjecture on my part, but I think she has a way of being extremely present at awards shows, because she likes to do these bits that she helps organize and that she executes with the other ladies in her category. She’s done it at the Emmys, and she’s hosted the Golden Globes with Tina (Fey) three times. I think people are just used to turning on their TVs and seeing a bunch of people in fancy ball gowns and tuxedos and there’s Amy. In your head it’s like she’s won seven trophies. It bums me out. I think the same thing happened with Steve Carell a little bit on The Office. He won the Golden Globe, which was midway through Season 2. The Golden Globes happen in January, and I think people kept not voting for him for an Emmy because they thought he won already. As a result, he played Michael Scott for seven years and never won an Emmy and that’s so silly. Giving awards for art is a little bit of a tricky endeavor anyway, but you at least want to have some sense of the people who deserve to win get to win. Jon Hamm has certainly deserved to win and never has. I think Amy deserves to win and never has. I would add I don’t think anyone in the world would begrudge Julia Louis-Dreyfus for winning an Emmy for her performance on Veep. She’s like a one-in-a-generation performer. It’s not like they’re giving awards to people who are bums–they’re giving them to very talented people who deserve them. It’s just that I think Amy is one of those people.
How tough was it to say goodbye to Parks and Rec?
I mean, part of the joy of being able to work on a show as long as we did for seven seasons is that you really have the time and space to poke and prod and explore every avenue of storytelling that you want to. Amy and I started talking in Season 6 about ending the show and decided to do it after Season 7. Part of the reason we did it is we felt like we were getting to the end of the list of stories we wanted to tell. Most of the characters had sort of gone on the journey that we wanted to send them on. The bad part is that it hurts your soul when you end the show because it’s sad. Of course I turned on my TV and an old episode was on WGN, and I was like, “I haven’t seen this episode in five years.” I started watching it and all I could think was, “Why did I make that edit there? Oh my God, what am I doing?” Then I had to turn it off because it’s just part of the deal. I feel that way about everything I write, too. You always feel like you should have done everything differently. In this case, I feel very happy with the way the show played out and the way everything went. I have no regrets.
You’re working on a new comedy for NBC–what can you tell us?
It’s in such early stages at this point that it feels very silly to talk about it because anything I tell you could be completely different tomorrow. I’m in the process of writing it.
There’s a new season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine coming up–Archie Panjabi is joining the cast and Captain Holt is no longer Captain–what else can you say about it?
I actually directed the premiere episode and it’s very much focused on Jake (Andy Samberg) and Amy (Melissa Fumero) and their nascent relationship. Dan Goor really runs that show on a day-to-day basis, but he and the writing staff cooked up a lot of really good cliffhangers at the end of last year. Captain Holt was transferred and Jake and Amy had this kind of romantic kiss after having several undercover kisses, the nature of which were a little nebulous. The goal of this premiere was to say, “We’re not going to leave anybody hanging. We’re going to answer all the questions you have about those cliffhangers in the first episode.” You see Captain Holt in his new position in the PR department with Gina, and his new life is described in the first episode.
You’re also exec-producing Netflix’s Master of None with Aziz Ansari. It sounds like a Louis C.K.-type thing, in that it’s about Aziz, but it’s not exactly about Aziz?
Louis is sort of his own animal. His show is a very singular show from a very singular talent and has a very specific tone. I wouldn’t say that there’s really a lot that’s similar between Aziz’s show and Louis’ show, except for the fact that it’s very much about his point of view and about his character’s point of view. He is the lens through which all of the stories are told. Aziz is a one-in-a-million comedian. I really like his talent, his work ethic, his energy, his point of view. Here’s a guy who was incredibly funny and successful doing a certain kind of standup, telling funny stories and making funny observations. He could have kept doing that for the next 50 years and made a lot of money. Instead, he has turned into a person who is very thoughtful and very curious about the world around him. If you’ve looked at his last couple specials he’s really matured into this very interesting guy. Now he does long stretches, not just about marriage and family and kids, but about feminism and racism and about the immigrant experience in America. He tackles big subjects in a really cool way that I think is really interesting.