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Episodes: A pretty exciting Emmy Comedy race, part the second


Emily VanDerWerff

Jul 11 2017

6 min read



I was originally going to make this follow-up to my post from February an exact companion to my analysis of the drama race, which is really exciting. But when I sat down to make a preliminary list of shows, it was even longer than the 22 shows I talked about in that post. The reason for that is simple -- all seven shows nominated in this category last year are back, as are a handful of former nominees that have fallen out (most notably Big Bang Theory and Girls). And when you've got that bottleneck at the top, it has a tendency to let more of the hopefuls feel like there's space, when there's really not.

So instead of doing a full breakdown and driving myself nuts, I want to look at just, let's say, the top 12 shows with genuine realistic shots at making it in.

As a reminder, here are last year's nominees:


Master of None

Modern Family

Silicon Valley


Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt


So two from ABC, two from Netflix, two from HBO, and Transparent. (One of ABC's two -- Modern Family -- is a Fox production, which essentially means it has two corporations pulling for it, which can't hurt.) What's curious about this year is how fully four of these shows (the HBO and Netflix entries) crammed themselves into the last two months of eligibility. That might give them a leg up. Or... it might not. I might have given them some breathing room, but what do I know?

Meanwhile, Transparent was back in September. I assume it's in, because Transparent, but you'd be forgiven for forgetting about it entirely. And both ABC shows aired throughout the season, as they're wont to do.

Veep is the reigning champion. Assume it's in. black-ish is ascendant, so assume it's in too. HBO rarely screws up its prospects in this category, so I'd probably slot in Silicon Valley next Master of None has the reviews, and I think it has the buzz. (It's tough to tell with Netflix's May onslaught.) So let's say it's safe, too. And then there's Transparent, which feels a little weak to me but probably isn't. It feels like it'll have a year of being nominated for a bunch of stuff and winning nothing before it drops out, and we're not there yet.

So that's five shows. But the problem is that the next step down is three different shows that you can make real arguments for their placement (and at least one of which I would nominate ahead of any other show on the list), but only two spots. So let's look at them alphabetically, one by one.

Atlanta (FX)

Strictly speaking, as a predictor person, I think this is in. But any new show has a hard climb ahead of it when all of the previous year's nominees are still eligible. That's just Emmy logic. Still, this has a bunch of industry prizes, and if I'm picking a show to beat Veep, I'm predicting this one, even if one of these auteur-driven comedies has never won this category.

Modern Family (ABC)

Spoilers: This is the one I have out of the running. It's been trending toward being dropped for a couple of Emmy seasons now, and that's very hard to avert. Still, it won the big prize five times in a row. The Emmys usually follow predictable patterns of reward and refrain, but you can't overlook a show they love this much.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

More than any other show released in Netflix's May onslaught, this one felt like it got lost in the shuffle just a bit. The people I know who watched it seemed to think it lost a step (which I concur with), but it's still a pretty funny show, surely with boosters throughout the Academy. Like Modern Family, it lost enough in the way of nominations last year to make me feel like it being dropped wouldn't be surprising, but it feels like it has another year left in it all the same.

So force me to rank those eight shows (the only eight with realistic shots, I think), and I might go:

1.) Veep

2.) black-ish

3.) Master of None

4.) Atlanta

5.) Silicon Valley

6.) Transparent

7.) Kimmy

8.) Modern Family

Now the problem with the next tier down is that it's dominated by shows that are from networks that already have nominations listed above. Could I construct a story where One Day at a Time or Dear White People gets in? I think so, and I think it would be great if one did. But do I really think Netflix would prioritize that over its other two potential nominees? Nah. The same goes for Girls and Insecure on HBO, for Baskets or Better Things on FX, and for any number of ABC shows. All would have realistic shots if they didn't have to share network space with more likely nominees. So, in essence, they don't have realistic shots.

You could game out a scenario where NBC got one of its shows (Good Place or maybe Superstore) in. You could maybe even make up a world where CBS got Mom in. But I think when it comes to this year's Emmys, the eight shows above are the only real contenders.

Maybe I'll be wrong, though! I'd love if I was! It's awesome when the Emmys totally upend everything. But they rarely do it in both series categories at once, and the drama race is going to see some major upheaval this year, which makes me think the comedy race will not.


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Episodes is published three-ish times per week, and more if I feel like it. It is mostly about television, except when it's not. Suggest topics for future installments via email or on Twitter. Read more of my work at Vox

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