The nominations for the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced bright and early on July 16, and a few smart, exciting rule changes from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences could really shake up this year’s awards.
(For our Drama predictions, click here.)
The Academy has increased the number of nominees in the Best Comedy Series category from six to seven, citing a dramatic rise in series production. It has also expressly decreed that any series with episodes of 30 minutes or less will compete as a comedy while those with episodes of 30 minutes or longer should automatically be considered a drama (they seemed to be looking at you, specifically, Orange is the New Black), pending an appeals processes governed by a nine-member industry panel for shows that can make the case that they are hour-long comedies. Got it?
Dying to know which of your favorites will be named among television’s best and funniest? So are we! But what’s the fun in waiting? Here are our predictions for this year’s Emmy nominations in the comedy categories:
Best Comedy Series
With OITNB out thanks to the Academy’s new rules, one of last year’s contenders seeming unlikely to repeat (sorry, Silicon Valley), and that additional nomination added, it looks like there is some wiggle room here to both give a much-loved-but-oft-overlooked veteran series its due while also welcoming some fresh shows into this category.
Let’s start with the sure things, and we’ll make this quick: thanks to their enduring viewer popularity, continued (and largely deserved) critical esteem and respective statuses as longtime Emmy favorites, Veep, Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory and Louie are in. It’s as easy as that.
As for the rest, newcomer Transparent earned perhaps the best reviews of any new show this year, Parks and Recreation went out on a very high note (see: “Parks and Recreation Has Suddenly Become the Best Show on Television"), and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt arrived hand-delivered to Netflix from 30 Rock creators and Emmy favorites Tina Fey and Robert Carlock.
We only wish there was room for the bawdiest, most inventive and experimental, laugh-out-loud funniest sitcom on television — that’d be Broad City — in this category, but making the case for why it deserves to be among the contenders in an already overflowing race would be like trying to explain the origin and use of its best catchphrase (“YAAAS, KWEEN!”) to your grandpa.
The Big Bang Theory
Parks and Recreation
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Dark Horse: Silicon Valley
Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Another nod for Julia Louis-Dreyfus feels obligatory, and for good reason: her Veep performance is among the most vibrant and unstoppable forces on all of television, comedy or drama. Amy Poehler, too, feels like an inevitability. She’s been nominated (but never won!) five times for her turn on Parks. But this could finally be Poehler’s year – her Leslie Knope is easily one of the most fully realized performances of TV’s “second golden age” and with so many think piece love notes accompanying the Parks series finale, the Academy can’t feign ignorance.
After three consecutive wins for Veep, JLD’s now-president looks set to be overthrown in her very playful rivalry with Poehler for this year’s win. A victory for Poehler would honor not only her brilliantly sustained performance but would celebrate her under-sung show as well, and the Academy loves that.
As for the rest, expect the unexpected. Perennial contenders Lena Dunham (Girls) and Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly) don’t feel nearly as locked-in as they have in the past, especially with critical raves and strong viewership surrounding two new series anchored by their female leads: Jane the Virgin’s (which won its appeal to be considered a comedy despite its runtime) Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Ellie Kemper.
And we haven’t even mentioned Lisa Kudrow’s career-best work on the resurgent (if little-watched) cult favorite The Comeback… because she’ll likely be bested by Edie Falco, who won this prize in 2010 for her turn on Nurse Jackie, which ended its seven-season run this year, and seems assured an end-of-the-road nod.
For the final spot, though, we’re going with a true wild card: Amy Schumer for Inside Amy Schumer. If comedians have imperial phases the way pop stars do, then Schumer is in the thick of hers. Plus, that recent Peabody Award win and the abundant coverage of the show’s social satire and feminism lend its actress-creator an of-the-moment gravity that may be difficult for Emmy voters to ignore.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer
Dark Horse: Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback
Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Longtime category vets Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) and Louis CK (Louie) can rest easy knowing their names will be called yet again, and 2014 contender William H. Macy (Shameless) seems a good bet to compete as well.
But the real story here is about Jeffrey Tambor, whose transformative, affecting Transparent performance is not only guaranteed a nomination, but also enters the category as the frontrunner to take home for the prize. That Tambor has been nominated for six Emmys but never won makes his likely victory here all the sweeter.
The remaining nods could play out in a variety of ways. Unlike the brimming Best Actress category, there are fewer leading male performances generating much heat, which could help Matt LeBlanc to a third consecutive (and fourth overall) nomination for Showtime’s little-watched Episodes.
A newcomer to the Best Comedic Actor race seems likely to take the final spot, but which one is anyone’s guess. We’d say Anthony Anderson for Black-ish or Randall Park of Fresh Off the Boat stand the best chances, given the strong viewership and overall warm reviews for their respective shows, but a vet like Billy Crystal can never be counted out, even when he’s competing for the middlingly received The Comedians. Similarly, Will Forte is definitely in the race for The Last Man on Earth, but could the show’s borderline strangeness alienate it from the Academy’s older voting members?
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Louis CK, Louie
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Dark Horse: Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth or Randall Park, Fresh Off the Boat
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
There are a few absolute locks for nominations here. Last year’s winner, Allison Janney for Mom, will return, and so will category cornerstone Julie Bowen for Modern Family. Veep’s Anna Chlumsky, given an interesting new storyline this season, and Mayim Bialik, who got to play out a rare big, emotional arc in The Big Bang Theory season eight finale, seem like smart bets as well.
With just two spots remaining, it’s important to remember that Saturday Night Live usually factors a nomination into this field, and for all intents and purposes that means cast standout and 2014 SNL Emmy contender Kate McKinnon should return, too. For the final nod, our money is on veteran actress and category newcomer Judith Light for her work on the much-loved Transparent.
We’re not sure if she’s truly a spoiler or if this is just wishful thinking, but Lauren Weedman delivered a knockout season on HBO’s now-canceled Looking. Strong but somehow brittle, raucous but always tender and deeply caring, hers was a layered, unshowy performance on an often very good series that was overanalyzed into oblivion and never quite got the love it deserved. Another unlikely dark horse we wish people were talking about: Niecy Nash, for her delicate turn on another criminally under-sung HBO dramedy, Getting On. The real spoiler here, though, is probably Emmy fave Jane Krakowski for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, though she’s really playing a toned-down (but still very funny!) approximation of her true masterpiece creation (30 Rock’s Jenna Maroney) and got some flak for her character’s touchy backstory.
Allison Janney, Mom
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Judith Light, Transparent
Dark Horse: Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
If the Emmys go all in on Parks and Recreation’s final season — and we think they may — Nick Offerman will be the supporting player most likely to benefit. He has never been nominated for an Emmy for his work on the show, and this will be the Academy’s final chance to make up for that slight. The remainder of the category should fill out with a series of Best Supporting Actor stalwarts from Modern Family (certainly Ty Burrell, and likely Jesse Tyler Ferguson; though Ed O’Neill can never be counted out), Veep (Tony Hale), and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Andre Braugher), as well as category newcomer and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt scene stealer Titus Burgess.
That unfortunately resigns Veep’s new VP candidate Hugh Laurie to spoiler status, alongside O’Neill. Deserving as he is for his excellent turn on HBO’s critically adored, searing political satire, the six-time House M.D. Best Actor Emmy-nominated favorite simply might not have the fight in him to shake up what is looking like one of the more set-in-stone races.
Nick Offerman, Parks and Recreation
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Tony Hale, Veep
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine Nine
Titus Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Dark Horse: Hugh Laurie, Veep