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Emmy Handicaps 2019: Outstanding Comedy Series

Pete Hammond

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In a category that largely reflects some fresh blood in this key race, the real attention seems to be on the two past winners going head-to-head for the first time. That is because past three–time winner here, Veep, was not on the air in the last Emmy season and thus ineligible to compete, opening the door for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to sweep the comedy categories. They are both in the race this year in a category that shows resistance to change, at least recently. It was dominated for five years in a row by Modern Family, and then for three years by Veep. It makes it tougher for the five relatively new shows (at least in this contest) that are also competing for attention. 

Barry
HBO

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HBO’s comedy about a hitman who is also an aspiring actor took the Comedy Series Actor prize for star Bill Hader last year, and was a nominee in the marquee category first time out. Since last year’s Emmys it has only increased its popularity, earning 17 nominations overall this year, second only to Mrs. Maisel in this race. Can it pull off an upset against the two returning champs in Maisel and Veep? It’s a quirky show, but one that clearly appeals to voters, so really, anything is possible and it had a very good sophomore season.

Fleabag
Amazon Prime Video

If there is one show that just might be able to pull off a stunning upset here it’s Fleabag, Amazon’s British phenomenon, the recent big winner at the Television Critics Association, and collector of 11 Emmy nominations overall this year after being totally shut out in its first season. Chalk it up to taking a little more time to actually be seen by voters. Obviously, they liked what they saw. Since it’s been well-publicized that creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge is saying this is the second and final year, it might be the Academy’s only chance to honor it. Will they?

The Good Place
NBC

This critical favorite and ethereal series is flying the flag for broadcast commercial TV networks in a category otherwise controlled by cable and streaming nominees. In its third season, it finally made the grade and landed this key nomination. Taking a cue from Waller-Bridge, producers have announced that the upcoming fourth season will be its last, but still, that gives voters one more chance beyond this year to give it the gold—unlike last-chance-Fleabag. There is still time. Maybe the spirits are with it.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Amazon Prime Video

As the defending champ here, and winner of eight Emmys overall in its first season, Mrs. Maisel is the only hour-long in the running, but that didn’t hurt it last year. Voters usually land on one show and reward it in multiple years in this category, but Amazon’s prizewinner has to compete here with Veep. With a leading 20 nominations, six more than last year, it’s clear the Emmy electorate responds to Maisel. However, the fact that writing isn’t one of those nominations gives me pause in predicting a second straight triumph.

Russian Doll
Netflix

Easily the most offbeat among this year’s nominees, Netflix’s only hope in this category is about death (and yes, other things) and isn’t a knock-down, drag-out funny show. But the line has been getting grayer recently, so maybe its differences will be a big plus. It’s truly a dark horse here, and a victory in Season 1 would be a stunner. A haul of 13 nominations is impressive though.

Schitt’s Creek
Pop TV

Well, finally. In its fifth and penultimate season, voters have recognized this hilarious Canadian series airing on Pop TV, not only giving that quirky wannabe network its first Emmy blast, but also demonstrating the brilliance behind a cult favorite, and perhaps the most consistently funny series on TV. With four nominations overall, the lowest total of any nominee in the category, it is an uphill climb. The fact that it got in at all means I would not count it out, but the formidable competition is imposing to say the least. Nevertheless, wouldn’t it be great?

Veep
HBO

In its seventh and final season, this three-time champ is back in the game to win a fourth consecutive Comedy Series Emmy for the show. With 68 lifetime Emmy nominations and 17 wins, its current nine nominations could have been higher. But it really delivered this season, firing on all cylinders, and it would seem like the most likely to succeed again here. Veep is the safest bet for your pools, but Fleabag might have a passion vote behind it, so beware.

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