Previous winners of the Outstanding Comedy Series category in just about the entirety of the past decade—Fleabag, Veep, Modern Family—aren’t a factor this year, so there’s a chance for new blood to take over. Only 2018 winner The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is back in the race, and in a very big way, with 20 nominations indicating strong across-the-board industry support. But past nominees like Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Good Place, The Kominsky Method and Schitt’s Creek—the latter three nominated for the second year in a row—are looking for an opening, as are a trio of first-timers in the category. Let’s survey the crowded field and see which show will get Pete’s Winner Pick stamp?
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Now an eight-time nominee in this category with 47 lifetime nominations overall, Curb Your Enthusiasm is still looking for its first win here, and maybe this is the year—the show is coming off a well-received tenth season in which Larry opens a coffee shop and starts a rivalry with the business next door. It’s always been one of the funniest shows on TV since its 2001 debut, and truly, it’s about time some real voter enthusiasm came forth.
Dead to Me
Improving its nomination haul from one for star Christina Applegate in its first season to four in its second, this mystery comedy series has a growing legion of fans and a promise of a third and final season still to come. However, it lacks the all-important writing and directing nods, which makes it a bit of a long shot to pull off an upset. It’s probably just happy to be included, now that there are eight slots in the category.
The Good Place
This four-season show has been steadily building its Emmy cred year by year, going from zero in its first season to an overall six this year. Still no wins, but the Ted Danson-starring sitcom has a unique distinction among nominees in all the key Emmy program categories of Drama, Comedy, and Limited Series in that it is the only broadcast network show to receive a nomination. That ought to be reward enough for this critical favorite.
Finally, this HBO gem has been noticed by the TV Academy voters, and it only took four years to do it. After being regularly passed over somehow, the Issa Rae-starring show has managed to snag eight nominations—including its first in this category, where it remains a long shot, but maybe the timing is perfect.
The Kominsky Method
A deeply personal project for TV comedy mogul Chuck Lorre, with a killer cast led by Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, this Netflix series has announced that it will end after one more season—which means Emmy voters could wait to give it this prize. But competition is tight and the show hasn’t shown much improvement this time on the nomination front, receiving the same three nods it got last year when it came home empty.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Winner of a historic eight Emmys from 14 nominations—including this one in only its first season—Maisel was beaten last year by Amazon stablemate Fleabag, but its performance was still impressive, landing eight more wins in other categories from a whopping 20 nods. It maintains that number of nominations again this year, and the love seems to be coming from across the board, so, clearly, this one has momentum all over again, especially after a colorful season that took its players out on the road.
If ever there was a conundrum it is this series, up for 15 Emmys in its sixth and final year—not many shows can say that after being completely ignored in their first four seasons. When the Pop TV series finally hit Netflix, though, Emmy voters discovered it, and it was nominated here for the first time in its fifth year. There is a lot of sentiment for it now and it seems very likely, just like Fleabag last year, that its time has really come.
What We Do in the Shadows
Here’s another show really coming to life after getting barely noticed in its first season last year, jumping from just two nods in 2019 to eight in 2020, including a first bid as Comedy Series and a whopping three nominations in the writing category. The horror spoof is really taking off, so its newfound Emmy cult of admirers could just push it over the top.
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