2016 Emmys Review (Comedy Categories)

kimmy schmidt

Even though this blog is supposed to mostly be dedicated to youth media and programming, I just can’t resist talking about the Emmy nominees this year (despite the harsh feelings I had for Margo Martindale’s win for a two minute cameo last year.) So, I will be reviewing many of the categories this year, including all the important comedy, drama, TV Movie and limited series ones. I’ll even discuss some of the “less recognized” categories, like, of course, Children’s Programming, music, variety series, and more. So, stick around, TAKE MY OPINION SERIOUSLY!!…thank you.

PS…these are not “predictions.” These rankings are based on my own subjective personal preference. My actual objective predictions will most likely come closer to the actual ceremony date (although I suck at doing those…)

Now we move on to the Comedy Categories, which include writing, directing, performance, and casting (b/c why not?). HBO’s Veep and Silicon Valley dominated the Emmys (which is a good thing). Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Last Man on Earth didn’t receive enough noms (which isn’t great). And shows like Masters of None and Black-ish surprisingly broke through (which, again, is good). Overall, despite some damning snubs, there’s not much to complain about. Let’s go through the categories.

(Episode submission information courtesy of Gold Derby).

Casting For A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Transparent
  2. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  3. Veep
  4. Silicon Valley
  5. Modern Family

Casting categories are always a weird disappointment. I still think this category should mostly belong to new shows. Yes, I know casting directors can also be responsible for guest and recurring performers…but what crazy casting decision does Modern Family or even Veep make at this point? Why isn’t Master of None here? Ansari cast his own parents to play his character’s parents. Isn’t that a little inspired. For what we have, I’d give the edge to Transparent, mostly for giving us Emily Robinson (who, yes, appeared in the first season, but she played a different character, Rose, in the second and whoever decided that was appropriate deserves a gold medal) and Hari Nef, the transgender actress who played Gittel, Rose’s trans sister. And, of course, all those topless women of different colors and shapes in “Man on the Land.” Inspired casting choices all around. (PS…I will make a similar rant when we get to the drama categories so…beware.)

Worthy Snubbed Programs

BoJack Horseman, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Documentary Now!, F is for Family, Getting On, Man Seeking Woman, Superstore, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp

Writing For A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang – Master Of None (“Parents”)
  2. Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck – Veep (“Mother”)
  3. Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan – Catastrophe (“Episode 1”)
  4. Alec Berg – Silicon Valley (“The Uptick”)
  5. David Mandel – Veep (“Morning After”)
  6. Dan O’Keefe – Silicon Valley (“Founder Friendly”)

My first real category and I already have heart palpitations. Choosing between “Mother” and “Parents” is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. My brain picks “Mother,” (which revolves around the death of Selina’s mother and her losing Nevada in a recount) because the episode is so funny and clever and really focused. It’s a perfect half hour of television and probably the best episode of the season. However…my heart says “Parents.” As the son of immigrant parents who moved to America for a better life, who had to deal with racism and culture clashes during their early years here, I relate so much to this episode. Aziz’s dad is my dad (especially when he has issues with technology). It’s not the “funniest” episode, and it’s not as tightly scripted as “Mother;” but the episode still means so much to me, and it tells a story that’s rarely told in comedic television. Ansari and Yang put their hearts into this episode. That makes it worthy enough. As a side note, though, I’m really glad that Catastrophe co-stars Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, at least, could get a nomination. This is for the very first episode of the series. Check it out on Amazon! It’s great, and the two actors have nice chemistry. One of the few (pleasant) surprises in the comedy categories.

Worthy Snubbed Episodes (only one per series)

Black-ish (Hope), Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Josh Just Happens To Live Here!), Girls (The Panic In Central Park), Gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street (Mel Vs. The Future), Review (Buried Alive; 6 Star Review; Public Speaking), South Park (You’re Not Yelping), Transparent (Man On The Land), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Kimmy Finds Her Mom!)

Directing For A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Aziz Ansari – Master Of None (“Parents”)
  2. Jill Soloway – Transparent (“Man On The Land”)
  3. Dale Stern – Veep (“Mother”)
  4. David Mandel – Veep (“Kissing Your Sister”)
  5. Alec Berg – Silicon Valley (“Daily Active Users”)
  6. Chris Addison – Veep (“Morning After”)
  7. Mike Judge – Silicon Valley (“Founder Friendly”)

I love Veep and Silicon Valley, but I don’t really think “Morning After” and “Founding Friendly” (their season premieres respectively) really needed these writing and directing nominations. More diversity in the noms would have been nice. That being said, “Daily Active Users” is the perfect “sh@t hitting the fan” episode, while “Kissing Your Sister” is a hilariously edited half hour that plays with the audience’s expectations. Again, “Mother” is a series highlight, and I don’t think there was a moment this season better directed than the funeral scene when Selina, finding out she had just lost the Nevada popular vote, has to give a speech in honor of her mother. Watch that scene. Look at her workers. Notice how all of them react to Selina different from one another. This is what you get when you have the perfect cast and director working together. Jill Soloway’s direction for Transparent is beautiful. She won last year, and she could win again this year for an episode that takes place entirely in an all-women’s music festival. However, again, I have to give props to Master of None‘s “Parents” episode. Ansari literally had to direct his own parents. That must have been as rewarding as it was challenging. I’m glad this episode got some recognition from the Academy. Hopefully, it wins in at least one of these categories.

Worthy Snubbed Episodes (only one per series)

Black-ish (The Word), Catastrophe (Episode 3),  Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Josh Just Happens To Live Here!), Girls (Wedding Day), Gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street (Gortimer, Ranger And Mel Vs. The Endless Night), Review (Falsely Accused; Sleep With Your Teacher; Little Person), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Kimmy Gives Up!), Undateable (A Will They Walks Into a Bar / A Won’t They Walks Into A Bar)

Guest Actress In A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Melora Hardin – Transparent (“Flicky-Flicky Thump-Thump”)
  2. Tina Fey & Amy Poehler – Saturday Night Live (“Tina Fey & Amy Poehler”)
  3. Amy Schumer – Saturday Night Live (“Amy Schumer”)
  4. Laurie Metcalf – The Big Bang Theory (“The Convergence Convergence”)
  5. Christine Baranski – The Big Bang Theory (“The Convergence Convergence”)
  6. Melissa McCarthy – Saturday Night Live (“Melissa McCarthy”)

The only nomination here that really excites me is Melora Hardin’s, an actress who’s done great work on Transparent (and, frankly, should have been nominated for The Office as well). In the episode she submitted, she only has a couple minutes of screen time. She probably could have submitted “Kina Hora” where she has more screen time, but her one scene in “Flicky” is so devastating, so emotional and painful. It’s not a “funny” performance, it’s a little humorous and quirky (Hardin literally throws a cake in a pool), but certainly the darkest of the nominations. Frankly, she’s only nominee that doesn’t seem lazily name checked. However, believe or not, Amy Poehler has never won an Emmy. Not even a Daytime Emmy. It’s absurd. She should have won at least two for her work on Parks and Recreation. I don’t understand why Fey and Poehler are allowed to be nominated together while, let’s say, Metcalf and Baranski aren’t. I don’t really need Tina Fey to win another Emmy for her still fabulous Sarah Palin impression, but, in this case, if her winning means Amy Poehler wins, then I’ll support it.

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Becky Ann Baker (Girls), Aidy Bryant (Documentary Now!), Anna Camp (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Tina Fey (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Sheri Foster Blake (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Ariana Grande (Saturday Night Live), Lisa Kudrow (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Elizabeth Mitchell (Gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street), Amy Sedaris (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), June Squibb (Getting On), Michaela Watkins (Transparent)

Guest Actor In A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Peter Scolari – Girls (“Good Man”)
  2. Bradley Whitford – Transparent (“Oscillate”)
  3. Martin Mull – Veep (“The Eagle”)
  4. Larry David – Saturday Night Live (“Larry David”)
  5. Tracy Morgan – Saturday Night Live (“Tracy Morgan”)
  6. Bob Newhart – The Big Bang Theory (“The Opening Night Excitation”)

Larry David had a very great year this season with his Bernie Sanders impression. A political impression hasn’t captivated viewers since Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin. Between his episode and Tracy Morgan’s, I fully expect him to win. However, I have a pretty clear top three. Martin Mull is funny as the confused Bob Bradley (however his funniest moments this season are his single lines in “Mother” and the season finale, but he of course submitted the right episode). Bradley Whitford makes the most out of his limited screen time as Magnus Hirschfeld as he promises to take care of a young transwoman. I am not against small performances winning. Nothing performances, yes. Small? As long they make a significant impact, those types of performances could be very worthy. However, Whitford won last year for an even better performance as Maura’s friend, Mark/Marcy. Scolari probably won’t win since he…let’s just say he was nominated about a week after everyone else. But I’m glad he got in. Both he and his screen wife Becky Ann Baker should have been nominated last year for even stronger performances. Sometimes, Emmy voters are late to the party. But, even despite that, Scolari still gives the best performance of these nominees. As Hannah’s newly out father, Scolari gives us enough pathos and humor to make this a truly well-rounded performance. (Also, he was the weather man in The Ultimate Christmas Present. He is overdue dramatic recognition!)

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Christopher Abbott (Girls), Shoukath Ansari (Master of None), Fred Armisen (Man Seeking Woman), Gil Birmingham (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Mike Carlsen (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Guillermo Diaz (Girls), Drake (Saturday Night Live), Ryan Gosling (Saturday Night Live), Chris Hemsworth (Saturday Night Live), Ki Hong Lee (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Ravi Patel (Master of None)

Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Kate McKinnon – Saturday Night Live (“Ariana Grande”)
  2. Anna Chlumsky – Veep (“C**gate”)
  3. Gaby Hoffmann – Transparent (“Bulnerable”)
  4. Niecy Nash – Getting On (“Don’t Let It Get in You or on You”)
  5. Allison Janney – Mom (“Terrorists and Gingerbread”)
  6. Judith Light – Transparent (“Flicky-Flicky Thump-Thump”)

Y’know, for the longest time, I didn’t really want Kate McKinnon to win, because Kristen Wiig (criminally) never won, and it didn’t seem right for McKinnon to surpass Wiig. But…McKinnon is simply too great on the show. Would I have chosen this episode for her? She has a couple star moments, like her impression of Hillary Clinton slowly (or rapidly, really) forming into Bernie Sanders, or the sketch where she appeared as half blob fish/half woman. Otherwise, watching this episode again reminded me how much Ariana Grande deserved a nomination herself. Unlike Wiig, McKinnon rarely has an episode where she dominates (in terms of screen time). Probably the reason people aren’t sick of her yet. But, despite limited screen time, McKinnon stands out in anything she does, and I’m rooting for her to win this year. And she has a chance, between her Clinton impersonation, that sketch she did with Ryan Gosling that went viral, and Ghostbusters, she might be the one to break the SNL curse. If she can’t though, perennial loser Anna Chlumsky would also be deserving of a chance behind that microphone. She submitted the episode where Selina makes Amy investigate who among her staff called her the “C-word” after it’s leaked in the press. It’s the perfect episode for Chlumsky in a show that’s literally crowded with supporting talent.

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Lauren Adams (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Andrea Barber (Fuller House), Vanessa Bayer (Saturday Night Live), Ashley Boettcher (Gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street), Alex Borstein (Getting On), Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live), Donna Lynne Champlin (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Sara Chase (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Leslie Jones (Saturday Night Live), Carol Kane (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Jane Krakowski (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Jenifer Lewis (Black-ish), Britt Lower (Man Seeking Woman), Emily Robinson (Transparent), Kristen Schaal (The Last Man on Earth), Eden Sher (The Middle), Cecily Strong (Saturday Night Live), Sarah Sutherland (Veep), Jodie Sweetin (Fuller House), Noël Wells (Master of None), Allison Williams (Girls)

Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Tituss Burgess – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (“Kimmy Gives Up”)
  2. Matt Walsh – Veep (“Kissing Your Sister”)
  3. Tony Hale – Veep (“Inauguration”)
  4. Louie Anderson – Baskets (“Easter in Bakersfield”)
  5. Keegan-Michael Key – Key and Peele (“Y’all Ready for This”)
  6. Ty Burrell – Modern Family (“The Party”)
  7. Andre Braugher – Brooklyn Nine-Nine (“The Oolong Slayer”)

Tituss Burgess submitted the episode where his character sings a bunch of “obscure” showtunes from forgotten Broadway shows. I think this is a great submission for him because, yeah, he has little screen time, but he’s so hilarious when he sings. He should win. He needs to win. His character is one of the most unique on television. The rest of this category could have literally been filled by actors from Veep, but I am especially happy that Matt Walsh finally broke through. I feel like I connect with his character Mike more than any other character on the show. He’s such a such a sad sack, but loveable all the same. And the funniest scene in his episode is when it’s revealed that the rest of Selina’s staff have secret meetings behind his back where they bash him. I know! That doesn’t say much about Walsh’s performance, but he does great work in the episode nonetheless. I had never watched Baskets before writing this post. I watched the first episode and Anderson’s submission, and I am impressed so far. He plays the main character’s (played by Zach Galifianakis) mother. It’s such a nuanced portrayal. Anderson pretty much uses his regular voice and, as far as I know, isn’t a caricature or the butt of everyone’s jokes. He’s pretty much tied with Hale; he’d be deserving winner as well. Final note: I love Keegan-Michael Key…but I didn’t get the memo where we decided he was significantly stronger than Jordan Peele. I also didn’t get the memo saying that he was a “supporting actor” on his own dang show. So, for pretty much those unfair reasons, he’s knocked down a couple pegs in my ranking. Sorry!

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Eric Andre (Man Seeking Woman), Fred Armisen (Documentary Now!), Beck Bennett (Saturday Night Live), Jay Duplass (Transparent), Laurence Fishburne (Black-ish), Santino Fontana (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Troy Gentile (The Goldbergs), Sean Giambrone (The Goldbergs), Steve Howey (Shameless), Drew Justice (Gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street), Taran Killam (Saturday Night Live), T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley), Kyle Mooney (Saturday Night Live), Bobby Moynihan (Saturday Night Live), Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley), Jordan Peele (Key and Peele), Jay Pharoah (Saturday Night Live), Sam Richardson (Veep), Mel Rodriguez (Getting On or The Last Man on Earth), Reid Scott (Veep), Timothy Simons (Veep), Martin Starr (Silicon Valley), Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live), Derek Waters (Drunk History), Zach Woods (Silicon Valley)

Lead Actress In A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Ellie Kemper – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (“Kimmy Goes to a Hotel”)
  2. Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep (“Mother”)
  3. Tracee Ellis Ross – Black-ish (“Sink or Swim”)
  4. Lily Tomlin – Grace and Frankie (“The Test”)
  5. Amy Schumer – Inside Amy Schumer (“Welcome to the Gun Show”)
  6. Laurie Metcalf – Getting On (“Am I Still Me?”)

Y’know, making up these rankings are tricky. Sometimes I’m conflicted between judging the actual episode submissions vs. judging a season’s worth of performance vs. other external factors (overdue factor, etc.) Admittedly, my rankings are inconsistent. Sometimes they’re based solely on the submission and sometimes they aren’t. In this case, let’s say, they half-are/half-aren’t. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has the strongest, funniest, most affecting submission of all the nominees. If I didn’t watch any of these shows and was unaware of the fact that Louis-Dreyfus had already won four consecutive Emmys (on top of the two for her earlier sitcoms), she’d be my first choice. “Mother” is a season highlight, and Louis-Dreyfus dominates the episode, all the way up to the end where she gives a bitterstillbitter eulogy for her mother. But…am I excited over the fact that she’s on her way to winning a fifth Emmy? Not really, despite the fact that her acceptance speech will be funny. So, I’m putting Kemper at the top of my imaginary ballot (that’s how the Emmys are voted, right?) This is essentially the episode where Kimmy has her last date with Dong before he is deported to Vietnam. It’s a funny episode, with an actual bittersweet conclusion (depending on how much one cares about Dong and Kimmy’s relationship. I personally dug their story line). I’m so happy Kemper got nominated this year after being snubbed last year. I’m also happy that Tracee Ellis Ross finally received Emmy recognition. As someone who believes that Girlfriends was criminally snubbed during its time (mostly because voters could care less about black sitcoms airing on UPN), Ross finally receiving an awards nomination from a group outside the NAACP made me especially happy nomination morning.

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia), Candace Cameron Bure (Fuller House), Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens), Zooey Deschanel (New Girl), Lena Dunham (Girls), Anna Faris (Mom), Jane Fonda (Grace And Frankie), Sutton Foster (Younger), Ilana Glazer (Broad City), Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe), Abbi Jacobson (Broad City), Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project), Julie Klausner (Difficult People), Emma Roberts Queens), Emmy Rossum (Shameless), Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat)

Lead Actor In A Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Will Forte – The Last Man on Earth (“30 Years of Science Down the Tubes”)
  2. Anthony Anderson – Black-ish (“Hope”)
  3. Thomas Middleditch – Silicon Valley (“The Empty Chair”)
  4. Aziz Ansari – Master of None (“Parents”)
  5. Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent (“Man on the Land”)
  6. William H. Macy – Shameless (“I Only Miss Her When I’m Breathing”)

Not to sound cruel, but without Jim Parsons, Don Cheadle, or anyone from the cast of Two and a Half Men, this is probably the strongest the category has been in a while (of course, we’re missing personal favorites like Alec Baldwin, Louis CK, and Matt LeBlanc, but still). I’d probably still replace Macy with someone else, just because he’s literally the least interesting part of his own episode submission. But otherwise…the top 5 here is really strong. I have to say, it’s disappointing that, after doing so well with nominations last year, The Last Man on Earth only received one nomination this year. Let’s hope Forte can win an Emmy before the show is altogether dropped from Emmy favor. Forte has some really dramatic scenes with Jason Sudeikis, who plays Phil’s brother. Like Forte, Anthony Anderson also chose an episode that balances drama and comedy well. The episode mostly discusses “Black Lives Matter” and police brutality. A few months ago when I watched this episode, the second after Anderson gives that speech about Obama and how scared he was for his life, I knew this would be his submission. Neither Middleditch nor Ansari submitted their strongest performances (I’m particularly disappointed that Middleditch didn’t submit “Daily Active Users,” where he has that scene where he’s trying to explain what exactly Pied Piper does to a focus group, and that scene towards  the end in the bathtub). But, overall…Jim Parsons isn’t here so we’re all good.

Worthy Snubbed Performances

Fred Armisen (Portlandia), Jay Baruchel (Man Seeking Woman), Andrew Daly (Review), Rob Delaney (Catastrophe), Chris Delia (Undateable), Billy Eichner (Difficult People), Nathan Fielder (Nathan For You), Zach Galifianakis (Baskets), Gael García Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle), Bill Hader (Documentary Now!), Eric Jacobson (The Muppets), Brent Morin (Undateable), Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat), Any Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Sloane Morgan Siegel (Gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street), Steve Whitmire (The Muppets)

Outstanding Comedy Series:

Ranking

  1. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
  2. Master of None (Netflix)
  3. Veep (HBO)
  4. Black-ish (ABC)
  5. Transparent (Amazon)
  6. Silicon Valley (HBO)
  7. Modern Family (ABC)

Hey, voters. Remember last year? Remember when Modern Family didn’t win and everyone was so happy? Let’s remember those good feelings this time around. I’ll take Veep winning again. Actually, Veep was, like always, hilarious this year. From “Mother” to this messed up election cycle (not as messed up to the one we’re living in now but, you know), Veep is a show that’s more than its crude, yet clever, one-liners. The storytelling, the exciting twists and turns makes it absolutely deserving of a second Comedy Series win. BUT…I’m still waiting for UKS to break through. With its lack of writing or directing or even technical nominations (which is crazy because it’s one of the best looking shows on television right now), Tina Fey’s 30 Rock follow up has no chance at winning this year (especially since a small, yet loud, trollish group of SJWs think the show is “racist.” Yeah. The show with the gay black lead and Asian love interest is racist). But I will root for the show until it wins. While other comedy shows find humor in cynicism, UKS truly makes me happy. The show always seems to come up when I’m at my lowest. It’s a show that truly perks me up. And Kimmy Schmidt is one of the most earnest and e ndearing characters on television. If season three is as good as its first two, I hope the Emmys finally get with the program gives it a “30 Rock circa season 3” number of nominations. But, really, Netflix is killing it with the comedy game, and Master of None, a show that really broke boundaries, winning would be really inspired. This is a strong category. If any of the shows from #1-#6 won, I’d be satisfied.

Worthy Snubbed Comedy Series

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Fresh Off The Boat, Girls, The Last Man On Earth, Life In Pieces, Man Seeking Woman, Review, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp

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One thought on “2016 Emmys Review (Comedy Categories)

  1. Pingback: 2016 Emmys Review (Drama Categories) | Lifestories

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