My Picks For This Year’s Emmys
Outstanding Comedy Series
Oh, the possibilities. Veep and Fleabag are gone. Russian Doll and Barry didn’t make the cut. Atlanta, still nowhere to be found. So the candidates for the Best Comedy could come from a combination of new blood and several brilliant series wrapping up their runs. Will they find room for series that have returned as well, such as Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Connors? Your guesses are as good as mine, but here are what I think deserve to be here the most.
Better Things (FX)
By far, the biggest snub to last year’s Emmys, even if you give Russian Doll and Fleabag their due (which I did) was the utter shutout of one of the best female run hyphenate series on television, period. Pamela Adlon’s masterful series, following Sam as she deals with the complicated lives her children, her friends, and her absolute bitch of a mother put her through has always been one of the great works of the past few years. Now, watching Sam as she turns fifty tries to deal with her complicated children, climaxing in a quincenera where her almost completely absent husband finally showed up — and continued to demonstrate what a dick he was — continued to show Adlon’s abilities in just about every field. With at least three openings in the Best Actress category, Adlon is sure to pick up a nod. Her show deserves to be recognized as well
The Good Place (NBC)
In its final season, one of the greatest comedy series of all time didn’t drop the ball. The cockroach club managed to save the afterlife for mankind, they found out that the Good Place wasn’t all they had hoped it would be, and finally realized that the best thing they could do for the afterlife was the best thing that they could do for life. The final episode where everybody finally reached their perfect ended — and for Michael, it wasn’t anything like we expected — was a moment of sublime brilliance that we don’t seem to get that often in the Golden Age. The series was a level of perfection, and to be clear, if the Emmys don’t give this show a shirtload of forking nominations, the Judge has my blessing to cancel humanity. (And can we get a nod for Maya Rudolph as well?)
The fourth season of Insecure was one of the best seasons this show has done yet. Issa and Molly spent the entire season drifting apart — Issa was trying to grow, Molly was trying to sacrifice everything to make a relationship work. Issa finally seemed to get a happy ending with Lawrence — and then in the final episode, everything they’d worked for blew up in a few minutes, but they found their way back to each other. Throw in a true-crime series that was always playing in the background, some of the hottest sex scenes you’d find even on cable, and some of the new directions for side characters, and you didn’t mind that Issa barely talked to herself the entire year. I know I’m not the target audience for this show, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t love it
With so many shows about horrible men even if in the funniest of comedies, it is so refreshing to see a series which is center around a man so good, he gives his liver to the man who he just hit with a car. Jim Carrey’s work is one of the most exceptional pieces of comic acting I’ve seen in a long time, but as the second season demonstrated, there’s so much more to it. A dream visit to the real Pickle Barrel falls caused Jeff to confront his greatest fear and finally face down his father. A real life broadcast of one of his shows that led to global ramifications. His family facing the true fallout from Phil’s death — and the realization of how Jeff and Karen found each other in the first place. I honestly don’t know if Kidding has a future beyond its second season. So I think it would be fitting if the Emmys gave it some recognition now.
The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
There are more daring series on Netflix one could see GLOW or Dead to Me getting nominations, but in this reviewers humble opinion there are few shows on the service as simple or as gloriously funny. Sandy went to a funeral, and ran into an old love. He began the process of forgiving his daughter, which may take a while considering this is far from the first time. Sandy found his daughter was dating a man his own age — and became friends with him. Then he got diagnosed with cancer, and spent time denying it. Throw in all the lovely cameos and this series made me laugh harder than almost any other show. I’m a little sad it’s ending after three seasons (hell, they got seven from Grace and Frankie) but that’s the way the Netflix age works. It deserves to be nominated.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
All right, so when they won the SAG prize for Best Cast, even they admitted that they voted for Fleabag. But as Midge went on tour and began the slow arc of becoming famous, and the ramification for her family became even clearly, you realized that the Palladino’s have developed a comic work of art more than up to the level of Gilmore Girls. Midge’s perkiness, Suzie’s frustration as she tried to rise, Abe’s journey mirroring that of his wife — this is a great period piece, a great family piece, a great showpiece. What more can you ask for from a comedy?
I had my doubts about this series even after Ramy Youseff won the Golden Globe for Best Actor. Then again, so did he. But having watched most of the first season, it’s hard to deny that this series is a true work of genius, at the level of Atlanta or Insecure. As Ramy tries to negotiate being a Muslim — which has far more depth than the usual thing — and as we see the lives of his family, you find something that would appall a lot of people. A Muslim family, at its core, is not that different from a Christian family or a Jewish one or basically anyone. The universality makes the show resonate. The Muslim elements make it sing.
Schitt’s Creek (Pop)
What can you say about a series so popular it puts its network on the map? A series with one of the greatest comic casts ever assembled? A show that took a different kind of look at the family life that has an actual family playing the lead roles? Do I think it necessarily deserves to win the grand prize? I’m not convinced. But I’m a sentimentalist. And part of me would really like to see Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara up there, not taking anything seriously. I really would.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
Jane the Virgin (CW)
Yes, I know. Most of it aired last year. But the second half of the final season aired in time to be eligible for this year’s nominations. And if The Handmaid’s Tale can thread that needle, why not a series that is a genuine work of art? Led by Gina Rodriguez, and some of the funniest actors in the history of television, not only did Jane get everything she deserved, so did her entire family. And in a world which has become colder and crueler this past year, we need a series that symbolizes pure joy. This was as great a show as The Good Place was. Why can’t it get a happy ending too?