Last Year’s Winner: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: “The Daily Show” or a show run by one of its former correspondents has won this category 14 years running.
Fun Fact: …but “The Daily Show” itself, despite a record 10 wins in the variety category, wasn’t nominated in 2016.
Just about every show nominated can make a strong case for why it deserves to win. “Real Time with Bill Maher,” overcoming a wave of negative press to score a nomination, has history on its side. After 20 nominations in 13 years, it has never won an Emmy. Is this the year?
It’d doubtful, especially with such strong, blemish-free competition. “Jimmy Kimmel Live” has won three Emmys overall, but it’s never won the top prize, and Kimmel delivered his most personal, moving season to date. Meanwhile, “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” earned its fist series nod of the Colbert era, and the CBS series has been riding a big ratings boost to some of its best content in years. Colbert is a favorite of the Academy, too. Personally, the late-night sharpshooter has won nine Emmys.
Will his nightly follow-up beat him out? “The Late, Late Show with James Corden” snagged its first nod in the category last year, and Corden is certainly proving more popular than his timeslot suggests. For all his accomplishments, though, he doesn’t feel like the man of the moment quite like Colbert.
Or John Oliver. Last year’s winner and HBO’s consistent best Sunday night series is again nominated in the category, and the series again offers a gluttony of award-worthy episodes. Oliver’s exhaustive investigations and keen eye for comedy elevate him above the pack.
Except, that is, for the third ex-“Daily Show” correspondent nominated: Samantha Bee. In addition to Oliver and Colbert, Bee has roots in the most awarded late-night comedy series in Emmys history. (Before the category was split into Talk and Sketch, Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” won best series 10 times.) Bee was part of that team, and she’s created a show on her own that’s worthy of such golden adoration. Given how her series has become a beacon for frustrated progressives, open-minded conservatives, and anyone seeking to vent through truthful reporting, “Full Frontal” could be in line for a big night.
Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Variety Talk 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.
- “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”
- “Jimmy Kimmel Live”
- “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
- “Real Time with Bill Maher”
- “The Late, Late Show with James Corden”
- “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”
Will Win: “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”
Could Win: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
Should Win: “Full Front with Samantha Bee”