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Emmy Predictions 2019: Best Comedy Series

Netflix might have too many contenders, while veteran series from HBO, ABC, and more look to fend off an onslaught of newcomers.

Veep Season 7 Tony Hale Julia Louis-Drefyus

Tony Hale and Julia Louis-Drefyus in “Veep”

Colleen Hayes/HBO

Last Year’s Winner: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak:Veep” has won the Best Comedy Series Emmy in three consecutive seasons, but its ineligibility in 2018 left the door open for a new winner: Enter “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” With both qualifying in 2019, the stage is set for a showdown between defending champions.
Fun Fact: No comedy series that’s won for its first season has also won for its final season. Among the 10 comedies that have won multiple Best Comedy Series Emmys, all but two won all their trophies consecutively. (For example, “Frasier” won five in a row, and never won again.) “All in the Family” won for its first three seasons, than lost four times in a row before winning again in Season 8. “Cheers” had an even more turbulent path to four trophies, winning for its first two seasons, then again for Season 7, and once more for Season 9.
Notable Ineligible Series: “Atlanta,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Silicon Valley,” “Master of None,” “Transparent”

At the bottom of this page are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Comedy Series (listed in alphabetical order). This article will be updated throughout the season, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz from the 2019 race, and read predictions in the rest of the categories, as well. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be given out Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, September 15. The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, September 22. Fox is broadcasting the ceremony.

The State of the Race

Hey, I bet you didn’t know this, but there are a lot of comedies out there. And a lot of good ones, too! Leading the pack of 2019 contenders are two series already anointed by the TV Academy as elites. Much like last year’s much-anticipated drama match-up between “Game of Thrones” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” this year’s comedy category looks to feature two defending champions squaring off for the first time. After a year removed from Emmy madness, “Veep” returns for its seventh and final season and aims to snatch back its comedy crown from last year’s winner, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” HBO and Amazon will likely spend big money vying for each, but before we get ahead of ourselves, there are other potential nominees to consider.

Among 2018’s nomination class, five series remain eligible (including “Maisel”): “Barry” snagged big wins for Henry Winkler and Bill Hader during its first season (and a boatload of nominations), so HBO’s series is looking strong to repeat. “GLOW” should be glowing as well, as Netflix’s second season absolutely lived up to the first. “Black-ish” is in the best shape of any network offering, though the ABC comedy may face competition from the ever-buzzier NBC offering, “The Good Place.” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is also limping to the finish line, having seen a big drop in total nominations for its second-to-last season.

So with two slots open via ineligibility and a legitimate risk of past nominees dropping out the old-fashioned way — through competition — what shows could capitalize?  “The Kominsky Method” has positioned itself well after big wins from the Golden Globes and a strong showing at the SAG Awards. Chuck Lorre’s single-camera comedy about aging and acting could be a major player, but critics preferred “Russian Doll” — another Netflix comedy that broke out after its timely Groundhog Day release. That makes four big players from Netflix alone — “GLOW,” “Kimmy,” “Kominsky,” and “Russian Doll” — and two or more would show off the power the streaming service wields over voters. (It’s easy to access, which is half the battle.) Plus, “Sex Education” and “Grace and Frankie” could make a little bit of noise, too.

Standing in the way are three shows with relatively small viewership, but passionate fan bases. “The Other Two” is striking the right chord on Comedy Central, while a resurgence of appreciation for Pop TV’s “Schitt’s Creek” could finally get it over the Emmy hump. Finally, Pamela Adlon’s “Better Things” has only landed acting nominations for its star and creator over the first two seasons, but the third season is getting extra (deserved) attention. That it caters to industry insiders (a central plot takes place on a problematic movie set) could help the FX critics’ darling into the TV Academy’s good graces.

Do you think that’s all? Not even close. Showtime has “Black Monday,” “Kidding,” and “SMILF” — not to mention a past Emmy winner in “Shameless.” NBC has “Will & Grace” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” CBS is hoping the final season of “The Big Bang Theory” breaks back in (or its superior spinoff, “Young Sheldon”), while The CW has the same aspirations for “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Jane the Virgin.” In addition to “Black-ish,” perhaps ABC can woo some “Roseanne” apologists over to “The Conners,” or revive interest in a flagging “Modern Family,” and Hulu will be backing Aidy Bryant in “Shrill.” Toss in Netflix’s “Arrested Development,” Amazon’s “Forever,” and HBO’s “Insecure,” and suddenly even the networks with virtual locks on nominations are starting to think, “Hey, maybe we can get in one more…”

Did I mention there are a lot of good comedies out?

Predicted Nominees:

  • “Barry”
  • “Black-ish”
  • “GLOW”
  • “The Kominsky Method”
  • “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
  • “Russian Doll”
  • “Veep”

Spoilers: “Better Things,” “Fleabag,” “The Good Place,” “Dead to Me,” “Kidding,” “Shrill,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

In a Perfect World: “Broad City,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Corporate,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Jane the Virgin”

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