Just as the Emmys drama-series contenders could breathe easier last year because the HBO juggernaut “Game of Thrones” hadn’t aired a new season during the eligibility period, this year’s comedy series take advantage of a field that for the first time in seven years doesn’t include perennial winner “Veep.”
The reason that HBO series has to sit out the upcoming Emmys after winning Outstanding Drama Series for the last three years — star Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ breast-cancer treatment, which delayed production of the seventh and final season — is a sobering one. But it has opened up the competition at a time when several acclaimed new shows are looking to get on the Emmy radar.
Offscreen events have also profoundly affected this year’s comedy races. The rebooted “Roseanne,” for example, would have been a formidable contender had Roseanne Barr not unleashed an offensive tweet that caused ABC to drop the show and probably sent voters looking elsewhere (though John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf could still be rewarded).
And harassment accusations against Jeffrey Tambor could hurt both “Transparent” (which dropped him from the show but is competing with a season in which he appears) and “Arrested Development” (which was hurt when its male actors appeared to downplay Jessica Walter’s complaints about Tambor’s verbally abusive behavior in a group interview).
Outstanding Comedy Series
The absence of “Veep,” the winner for the last three years in a row, is very good news for the large crop of new shows that will be looking for spots: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “GLOW,” “Barry” and “Insecure,” along with the spinoff “Young Sheldon,” the rebooted “Will and Grace,” the revamped “One Day at a Time” and the back-from-hiatus “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
“Mrs. Maisel” is the sure thing in that group, with “Barry” having a good shot and “GLOW” on the bubble.
You have to believe that “Atlanta,” which won for acting and directing last year, will land a nomination again. “Silicon Valley” never missed a nod in its first four seasons on the air, so Season 5 figures to bring another snub. “Black-ish” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” have both been nominated the last two years; the former will almost certainly be back, while the latter might be a question mark.
We’ll assume that “Barry” gets in, courtesy of a well-received debut late in the season as voters were thinking about the races. That leaves two slots from a group that includes “The Good Place,” “Will and Grace,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “GLOW,” “Better Things,” “One Day at a Time” and “Modern Family.”
Pundits underestimate five-time winner and eight-time nominee “Modern Family” at our own peril, but we’re going to guess that it finally slips out of the top category, making room to welcome in the female-empowerment of “GLOW” and to welcome back “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which was nominated in this category in seven of its prior eight seasons.
Predicted nominees (in order of likelihood): “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Atlanta,” “black-ish,” “Silicon Valley,” “Barry,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “GLOW”
Watch out for: “Will and Grace,” “The Good Place,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Modern Family”
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
A strong crop of actresses from first-year shows are competing in a category that is absent Julia Louis-Dreyfus for the first time since 2011: Rachel Brosnahan in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Alison Brie in “GLOW” and Tiffany Haddish in “The Last O.G.” among them.
While it would be a real thrill to see them all make the cut, Emmy voters just don’t work that way. And besides, returning nominees Tracee Ellis Ross in “black-ish,” Allison Janney in “Mom,” Pamela Adlon in “Better Things,” Ellie Kemper in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in “Grace and Frankie” aren’t any less worthy now than they were in the past.
And that doesn’t even include a few additional actresses who deserve to be here: Kristen Bell in “The Good Place,” Issa Rae in “Insecure,” Frankie Shaw in “SMILF,” Rachel Bloom in “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” …
In a fiercely competitive category, then, Brosnahan is the one newcomer who seems guaranteed a nomination, with Brie a likely nominee as well. Ross, Janney and five-time nominee Debra Messing (for the first go-round of “Will & Grace”) should land noms, which only leaves one slot, which will likely go to Adlon, Tomlin, Fonda, Bell or Kemper — and while it’s hard to imagine the two legendary leading ladies of “Grace and Frankie” being passed over, that may well happen, with Adlon grabbing the spot.
But remember: Last year, the Emmys’ 2-percent rule, which expands the field in the event of a close finish, super-size this category from six to seven.
Predicted nominees: Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; Tracee Ellis Ross, “black-ish”; Allison Janney, “Mom”; Debra Messing, “Will & Grace”; Alison Brie, “GLOW”; Pamela Adlon, “Better Things”
Watch out for: Ellie Kemper, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”; Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, “Grace and Frankie”; Kristen Bell, “The Good Place”; Issa Rae, “Insecure”; Frankie Shaw, “SMILF”
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Donald Glover (“Atlanta”) is the reigning champ and isn’t going anywhere. Neither is “black-ish” star Anthony Anderson, who’s been nominated the last three years in a row, and Emmy favorite William H. Macy, who’s riding a four-year streak.
Eric McCormack had four nominations, including a win, the first time “Will & Grace” was on the air more than a decade ago, and a lot of the people who voted for him then are probably still casting ballots. Ditto for Larry David, who landed five nominations (but no wins) for starring in “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
That doesn’t leave a lot of room for newcomers, and no room at all if “Baskets” star Zach Galifianakis, a nominee last year, is back. But Bill Hader’s performance in “Barry” may well be irresistible enough to nudge out Galifianakis, though Matt LeBlanc in “Episodes” and particularly Ted Danson in “The Good Place” are formidable contenders and could sneak in. And John Goodman might get some votes just for putting up with Roseanne Barr.
Predicted nominees: Donald Glover, “Atlanta”; Anthony Anderson, “black-ish”; William H. Macy, “Shameless”; Bill Hader, “Barry”; Larry David, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”; Eric McCormack, “Will & Grace”
Watch out for: Ted Danson, “The Good Place”; Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes”; Zach Galifianakis, “Baskets”; John Goodman, “Roseanne”; Tracy Morgan, “The Last O.G.”
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
How many nominations will “Saturday Night Live” get? Last year the show had three, with Kate McKinnon winning her second consecutive Emmy and Vanessa Bayer and Leslie Jones also landing noms. Bayer’s now gone from the show, but McKinnon is a lock and Jones has a chance of joining her, though the past season of “SNL” didn’t quite capture the zeitgeist the way the show did in the previous election year.
Alex Borstein is too integral to “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” to not be recognized, and Megan Mullally had seven nominations and two wins for the original run of “Will & Grace,” and seems ready to pick up where she left off.
Zazie Beetz is probably the hottest of the younger actresses in contention (a group that also includes Betty Gilpin from “GLOW,” Sarah Goldberg from “Barry” and D’Arcy Carden from “The Good Place”), while Rita Moreno (“One Day at a Time”), Laurie Metcalf (“Roseanne”) Jessica Walter (“Arrested Development”) and Judith Light (“Transparent”) are all vets with real shots.
Here’s guessing that the legendary Moreno was on the right show at the right time, and that Carden’s delightful performance in “The Good Place” scores an upset nomination.
Predicted nominees: Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”; Alex Borstein, “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; Megan Mullally, “Will & Grace”; Zazie Beetz, “Atlanta”; Rita Moreno, “One Day at a Time”; D’Arcy Carden, “The Good Place”
Watch out for: Laurie Metcalf, “Roseanne”; Leslie Jones, “Saturday Night Live”; Betty Gilpin, “GLOW”; Sarah Goldberg, “Barry”; Jessica Walter, “Arrested Development”
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
From the time it premiered in 2009, “Modern Family” has never failed to place at least one actor in this category; since 2013, neither has “Veep.” But the latter isn’t eligible and the former seems likely to have its streak broken by the presence of formidable contenders from new shows: Tony Shalhoub for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Henry Winkler for “Barry” and Marc Maron for “GLOW” foremost among them, with Shalhoub and Winkler the likeliest to land noms.
Alec Baldwin’s “Saturday Night Live” portrayal of Donald Trump might be wearing a little thin, but he’s the defending champ and he should be back, as should 2017 nominees Titus Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Louie Anderson (“Baskets”) and Brian Tyree Henry (“Atlanta”).
The problem with that scenario is that it leaves out Maron, seven-time “Will & Grace” nominee Sean Hayes, “Silicon Valley” standouts Kumail Nanjiani and Zach Woods, “Atlanta” scene-stealer Lakeith Stanfield and all those “Modern Family” guys.
Predicted nominees: Alec Baldwin, “Saturday Night Live”; Henry Winkler, “Barry”; Tony Shalhoub, “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; Titus Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”; Louie Anderson, “Baskets”; Brian Tyree Henry, “Atlanta”
Watch out for: Sean Hayes, “Will & Grace”; Marc Maron, “GLOW”; Kumail Nanjiani and Zach Woods, “Silicon Valley”; Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”