It’s that time of the year again when shows come to their natural end for the season—and we all cruelly tell the blackhole that is the Internet who we think is most deserving of the Emmy love this year. And, boy, what a weird year it’s going to be for the Emmys.
The New Rules
This year, the Emmys stated that half-hour series must enter as comedies, and hour-long series must enter as dramas. Some shows were exempt from the rule (Jane the Virgin, Shameless); other shows were not (Orange Is the New Black). Also, the series categories will have seven nominees. The rest will still have six.
In general, the Golden Globes are a terrible indicator of who will win an Emmy, and vice-versa. The HFPA love to award breakout performances—shows and actors who have worldwide appeal, even better. (The F in HFPA does stand for “foreign,” after all.) Jane the Virgin is perhaps the most prominent Hispanic-driven show on television at the moment, and the HFPA awarded that.
The Emmys, however, are more myopic—voted on by Hollywood peers, as opposed to about 100 worldwide journalists, this is an awards show that routinely chooses the same shows and actors to provide accolades.
But it wouldn’t be Emmy awards season if countless critics and lowly bloggers like me made lists like these.
Jane the Virgin
Close to a year ago when Jane the Virgin got the pickup from The CW, I was, in a word, incredulous. This is an absolutely ridiculous-sounding show. A Venezuelan import telenovela, Jane the Virgin is the story of our heroine who is accidentally artificially inseminated with a hotelier’s sperm. That hotelier is her boss. Plus, she’s engaged to her boyfriend. Oh, and she’s a virgin. It’s ridiculous. But The CW knocked it out of the park with this one.
First, the cast: Every piece of the ensemble here brings it every week, and they all get to stretch every part of their acting muscle. The series is a comedy, yes, but there is always lots of drama for them to chew through, and they hit every note wonderfully. Second, the writing: Jane the Virgin is a satire of telenovela conventions. With its narrator and on-screen notes in play, the series loves to poke fun of its own outlandish twists and turns, allowing audiences to be in on the joke. Third, the magical realism: This is an insane show. But no one’s actions in the show are all that crazy. The series takes its other-worldly premise and grounds the characters actions in real life. The outlandish premise lets us observe these three-dimensional characters in a very real way. And lastly, the theme: Yes, there’s a love triangle. But the most important love story of all is the Villanueva women—three generations of family trying to pull through the world. Every episode of Jane the Virgin is executed pitch-perfectly. It’s such a treat.
Plus, it’s got laughs in spades. And I dare you to try not to cry every, single week. The show deserves an Emmy for creating Rogelio de la Vega alone.
Joy on television is so often uncelebrated. We love our drama gritty, and we love our comedy to take people down a peg. Broad City slips its joy without audiences even realizing it. I remember reading an interview with the masterminds behind Broad City where they mentioned a gag in this second season: Abbi leaves an air conditioner on the curb to hail a cab. After five seconds, she looks back, and it’s been stolen. The joke isn’t that Abbi can’t pay rent (she obviously could afford the AC), it’s that it’s slightly annoying. I can’t imagine a more succinct way to explain Broad City‘s humor—fearless portrayals of female friendship, women-crushes, outlandish gags, and weed-smoking dazes, notwithstanding. This gem has been hiding from the world-at-large for far too long.
Lisa Kudrow was ahead of her time. The Comeback initially premiered in 2005, as Kudrow’s first vehicle post-Friends. The show follows Valerie Cherish, a has-been actress vying for her comeback by airing it via a reality show—back when reality TV hadn’t hit the zenith it has now. Painfully awkward, but always full of heart, it’s hard not to root for Valerie, even when she’s being a bit ego-centric. She’s earned it! The series returned last year with an absolutely perfect eight-episode run that updated us on Valerie’s second comeback and her Emmy win, and didn’t hold back on the cringe and the belly-laughs. The buzz since then seems to have died down, but as Valerie would probably feel, you have to be optimistic. And if it get’s snubbed: “Jane! Jane! That’s not good. You can’t use it!”
The fifth season of Louis C.K.’s daring Louie continues to be hilarious and incisive. A season green-lit after Louis C.K. sent the president of FX an overzealous email post a weed-smoking session, Louie proves artistry is born in pressurized moments. Louie is still doing what Louie does: trying to get through life and trying to instill life lessons in his daughters, but there’s still no other show like it on television. C.K. has been recognized for his writing, but it’s about time the show gets its due.
The Mindy Project
Will-they-won’t-theys be damned. The Mindy Project has never been perfect, but it has always been gut-achingly funny. Mindy Kaling and her cast have been filling the void of joke-mahcine comedies that sort of disappeared after the end of 30 Rock, with style and pizazz, to boot. Always glamarous, this under-apprecaited comedy has flair and substance in spades, driven by Kaling’s resilient performance.
There’s no other way to put it: Silicon Valley is just downright hilarious, and its sophomore season had a flawless run of episodes. The Pied Piper crew were put through more hoops and obstacles than a relay race, but every new hurdle provided a well of guffaws. This is a marvel sitcom elevated to HBO standards—and every part of the ensemble hits the mark with ease. I don’t think there’s any better compliment than this: every episode feels like only 10 minutes, and when the credits roll, I crave more. But at least each credits sequence has an underlying banger to boot.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
The color pops. The theme song is infectious. And Kimmy Schmidt’s personality will cake your mouth in sweetness. Where The Mindy Project filled the void of 30 Rock’s humor, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt comes back with it full-force. But unlike 30 Rock, Kimmy Schmidt is full of optimism, and sunshine, and rainbows, and unicorns, and… well, you get it. Ellie Kemper and Co. elevate Tina Fey’s already-tried-and-true brand of comedy to new, joyous heights. Though it was a bumpy run, the ride was always fun.
Lena Dunham’s Girls continues to delight, bringing cringe to all sorts of levels and brutally reminding all 20-somethings of their cyclical mistakes. A fourth season of Hannah Horvath making conscious choices (OK, maybe a misstep here and there, too) added zest to a tried and true method. There’s also no multi-camera sitcom doing anything like what Mom is doing—drug abuse and alcoholism was never this funny, and never this poignant either. Spearheaded by bombastic yet incandescent performances by Anna Faris and Allison Janney, Mom should be making more waves. And finally, freshman series Younger is perhaps the new Parks and Recreation (no one throw anything at me!). It’s fluid, vibrant, mesmerizing, and always leaves me wanting another half hour. I’m surprised by what they pack into just 22 minutes. Plus, it’s just dang funny.
Expect the most pervasive comedy series to be back: Modern Family. Some of my dream nominees should make it into this category, including Louie, Silicon Valley, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. And then expect the category to be rounded off by multi-cam Academy favorite The Big Bang Theory, as well as Julia Louis-Dreyfus vehicle Veep, and finally a wildcard. The Comeback could nudge its way in there, and so could Jane the Virgin, but I’m thinking it’s going to be Transparent.
Now it’s your turn. Which comedy series do you want to see be nominated for an Emmy this year?
This is the first in a series of Emmys posts this awards season. Check out the Emmys tag for more dream nominees and features.