Last Year’s Winner: “Veep”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: “Veep” has won this award three years in a row. Before that, “Modern Family” won five years straight. “30 Rock” went back-to-back-to-back in the years immediately prior. The last show to go one and done (or won and done) was “The Office” in 2006.
Fun Fact: The last comedy with a black lead actor or actress to win this category was “The Cosby Show” in 1985.
With “Veep” unlikely to return in time for 2018 Emmy eligibility, there’s going to be a new winner crowned later this year. But before the new champ can pick up their belt, nominees have to be chosen, and there are even more openings there. “Master of None” isn’t airing a new season, either, so at least two empty slots are up for grabs.
But should all of last year’s eligible nominees feel safe? Not exactly. “Atlanta” is earning rave reviews for its second season, so Donald Glover should be on solid ground. “Black-ish” is still rolling along strong, too, and there’s no reason to think its two-year streak will end there. “Silicon Valley” will get an even bigger push from HBO without “Veep” in the race, making Mike Judge’s veteran contender a legitimate threat to win in 2018 (barring an unexpected creative slip).
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” though, is looking to swoop in, as well. The Netflix comedy has seen a downtrend in total nominations from season to season, but it’s releasing half its fourth season — six episodes — before the deadline in order to qualify for the 2018 Emmys. Clearly, Netflix executives think it’s worth splitting the season for a shot at gold. “Modern Family” doesn’t have any technical issues barring a nomination, but the one-time king of the category has seen less enthusiasm in recent years. Last year, many predicted it would be ousted from this category only to be proven wrong.
This year, though, is another story, especially with another onslaught of worthy contenders chomping at the bit. “Better Things” only snagged one nomination for Season 1, but Season 2 saw an even bigger critical boost, and Pamela Adlon followed up her Emmy nod with a Golden Globe nomination — her first, which is tough to do for a second season after the first is ignored. Also riding awards highs are “GLOW” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” both of which performed well at the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes, respectively.
Then there are the revival shows that will test voters’ nostalgia. “Will & Grace” was nominated six times and won once during its original run, and most of the reaction to its new season has been positive. (The NBC sitcom also snagged two Globe nods, including Best Comedy Series.) “Curb Your Enthusiasm” isn’t really a revival, though it did return after six years off the air, and it was nominated for Best Comedy Series back in 2012 for its most recent season. Season 9 could keep the streak active, even after more than a decade out of the running.
That’s not all HBO has to offer — heck, it’s not even HBO’s only show tied to Alec Berg. In addition to “Silicon Valley,” the former “Curb” writer has “Barry” hitting in March. Co-created with Bill Hader, the hitman comedy is getting solid early buzz and could be another HBO comedy contender, in addition to “Insecure,” which nabbed a ton of great press for its excellent second season.
Even with all those in mind, there are far more legitimate threats up for consideration. “SMILF” made a splash for Showtime; “Dear White People” has a passionate fan base that’s constantly expanding on Netflix; “Casual” will look to go out on top in its final season; “The Good Place” is a critic’s darling with a beloved Emmy figure in a lead role; and “You’re the Worst” remains one of FX Networks’ sharpest, most relevant offerings.
Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Comedy Series (listed in alphabetical order), which will be updated throughout the season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2018 race, and read predictions in the rest of the categories, as well.
- “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
- “Silicon Valley”
- “Will & Grace”
Spoilers: “Better Things,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Insecure,” “Modern Family,” “SMILF,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
In a Perfect World: “Casual,” “Dear White People,” “The Good Place,” “You’re the Worst”