Comedy, Part 1
BEST COMEDY SERIES
This will probably get me more laughed at than any other argument, but this year I’m not convinced Veep deserves to be among the nominees. Maybe it’s the level of toxicity that inhabits the current political atmosphere, or maybe its just the fact that it was in its sixth season, but the series which has been hysterical funny for the last few years seemed disconnected and rudderless. I realize that I’m going against the grain, and that the series will probably dominate the nominations like it has for the last five years, but I can’t in good conscience honor this time out. So here are my picks, sans Veep.
Admittedly, I came to this series somewhat late, and have only seen the first two episodes, but what I’ve seen continues to demonstrate the African American renaissance in TV. This is a darker, angrier series than one is used to from FX, but its certainly no less entertaining for those reasons. And considering its track record (a win at the Golden Globes, the WGA and the Peabody’s), this seems like one of the surer bets to show up in this category. Bravo.
Admittedly, the series wasn’t as perfect as last year (the opening episode in Disneyworld, the Chris Brown cameo), but when it was at its peak — which was frequently — it could be uproariously funny and even more politically relevant, even in this new political era. And though so many of the segments were comic gold, I think the episode that will stick with me the most was the finale when Bow’s pregnancy came under distress. The series has on more than one occasion been satirically brilliant; this episode demonstrated its dramatic brilliance as well.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW)
I know, I know, this is really going out on a limb, especially over Veep. But even though its a fringe series on a fringe network, this is one of the most joyous, raucous, hysterical, and original series on any platform today. Every musical number stands as both a great satire and a great original song. Its heroine is the perfect antidote to every poisonous antihero, even though she’s more selfish than a lot of them. And anyone who saw the Tonys and watched Rachel Bloom knows she’s even more joyous in person. Give this woman a real shot at it.
The Good Place (NBC)
Another sign that NBC is on the verge of a creative revival is this brilliant satire on what it is to be a good person. Everything about it — the writing, the acting, the scenery, the throwaway lines — would’ve been enough to merit a nomination on its own. But the final twist in the last episode is something that I don’t even the most daring writers in dramatic TV would’ve dared attempt. NBC showed a lot of faith renewing it for Season 2. Emmy voters, show them some more.
Master of None (Netflix)
Yes, there are lots of great comedies now on Netflix, and its as likely that Kimmy Schmidt will be dominant as it has been the last two years. But this series is a true original that was more than worth the eighteen months we had to wait between seasons. I don’t know no any other series which would have tried to satirize The Bicycle Thief in its opening episode. And the fact that it still has one of the more intriguing leads at its helm, that’s willing to completely reset after last season is a work of art on its own, It got some love from the Emmys last year. It deserves more.
Silicon Valley (HBO)
This series was a bit more inconsistent than last year, but it was far more engaging in its individual moments than anything else. Watching Richard go to extremes to try and make his platform work, travel to the verge of darkness and back to the light was frankly an impressive journey for any character this season. But there was more than enough intriguing comedy along the way, including Bighead’s travel to Stanford, Dinesh’s relationship with a hacker, and Ehrlich’s journey to Tibet (which he may not return from). This one was fun.
Maybe it’s wrong to keep calling this series a comedy, as the laughs can often be awkward and filled with pain. But it remains one of the most daring and entertaining series, as the Pfefferman clan continues on journeys at least as awkward as Maura’s trek towards her true gender. This series alone justifies Amazon going into original entertainment. And its cast deserves as much recognition that is being given to Jeffrey Tambor.