Last Year’s Winner: “Key & Peele”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: This is only the third year of the category’s existence, but “Saturday Night Live” has been nominated in either Variety Sketch or the category’s previous, all-encompassing iteration, Variety Series, every year since 2008.
Fun Fact: “Saturday Night Live” has not won in either category since 1993.
Eighteen shows enter, six emerge. One-third of the variety sketch series on the 2017 Emmy ballot will make their way into the race, meaning many of the candidates can already taste victory…which also means the competition is going to be fierce.
The safest bets include “Saturday Night Live,” which is riding a hot streak and a hot season into the 2017 race; “Portlandia,” which has scored nods in two consecutive years and is generally beloved by the Academy; and “Drunk History,” a surprise inclusion when the sketch series category was first created that cemented its status by snagging another nomination in Year No. 2.
“Documentary Now!” also earned a slot last year for its debut season, so it should be in good position to return. But the other two 2016 nominees are no longer eligible, as “Inside Amy Schumer” hasn’t aired new episodes and “Key & Peele” ended. That means there’s room for “Billy on the Street” to make the leap. TruTV has put together a strong FYC campaign, and the series has arguably never been more popular.
Meanwhile, Netflix is pushing “Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Return.” The revival series could use play up the nostalgia factor — plus Patton Oswalt’s addition to the cast — to earn favor with Academy voters, and it doesn’t hurt having a strong tie to cinema (not to mention easy access via Netflix).
Other contenders include everything from the long-running “Comedy Bang! Bang!” to the first outing of “Maya & Marty.” “The President Show” will hope to capitalize on our tumultuous political culture,”Kevin Hart Presents: Hart of the City” has the benefit of starring Kevin Hart, while “Tracey Ullman’s Show” and “The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail” might find a way in through well-respected creators within the sketch world.
Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series (in alphabetical order), which will be updated throughout the awards season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2017 race, and read the rest of the predictions in all categories, as well.
- “Billy on the Street”
- “Documentary Now!”
- “Drunk History”
- “Saturday Night Live”
- “Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Return”
Spoilers: “Comedy Bang! Bang!,” “Maya & Marty,” “The President Show”
In a Perfect World: “Tracey Ullman’s Show,” “The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail”