Ben Travers: Every year I think it’s the year “Parks and Recreation” will make it back into Emmy’s good graces, and every year since its sole Outstanding Comedy Program nomination in 2011, I’ve been heart-wrenchingly disappointed. The same goes for 2014, even though it stings a bit more since the truly superb ensemble comedy submitted its second to last season this go ’round. Next year will be its last chance at glory, and I doubt it will get any (maybe Amy Poehler) despite deserving more awards than its eligible for. (go ahead — give it Drama and Miniseries trophies. I won’t complain.) What makes its exclusion even more troubling are the shows besting it at the TV Academy’s annual awards. Inexplicable pop pick “The Big Bang Theory”? “Silicon Valley” and its eight episodes? Even “Orange is the New Black” only got in because it’s a drama disguising itself as the more easily obtainable genre contender. I better just stop. I’m getting all worked up. What are you missing in the comedy category?
Peter Knegt: A lot. I could easily get worked up myself, though I have to admit it wouldn’t be about “Parks and Recreation.” I certainly think it’s been snubbed in the past, but this was the first season where it really felt to me like it was on its way out. Given your clear love for the show, I dare not explain that case further and instead will offer my own examples — like “Brooklyn Nine Nine,” which really deserves all the hype that’s come its way (and those Golden Globe wins). Or “Looking,” which I think is the better of HBO’s freshman class (though clearly Emmy voters thought it was “Silicon Valley”). Or “Broad City,” which I know didn’t have a shot in hell, but is in my mind the funniest show on television. Or “Please Like Me,” an even darker horse, but as hilarious and heartfelt and complex as they come. All new series that hopefully will one day have their Emmy moment anyway (though I somehow doubt even that). I guess if they had to finally reward a show they’ve consistently snubbed, I would have vouched for “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” which has been on forever (nine seasons!) and still rarely falters.
BT: I would have to concur with everything you’re saying that’s not a negative assessment of Amy Poehler’s superior successor to “The Office,” especially when it comes to “Looking” — even without seeing the entire first season, it’s a better pick than “Silicon Valley” — and “It’s Always Sunny,” a criminally ignored FX show, especially considering, a) it put FX on the map, and b) FX is trying to be the new HBO when it comes to awards attention. Wouldn’t it be truly outstanding to see Charlie Day‘s name in the supporting comedy actor category? Or Murray Bartlett? Or Rob Lowe?! I’m gonna go off the rails soon, so we better face reality and move on to what’s actually nominated — but before then, what actors do you wish would be walking the red carpet on Monday?
PK: Ugh, way too many. Especially given that there’s just as many folks that I really don’t think should be walking said carpet. The Emmys’ dated (or perhaps always irrelevant) love for “The Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family” was muted mildly this year, but they still collectively got five acting nominations. Nominations that coulda/shoulda gone to those exact people you mention. Or Amy Schumer. Or Jonathan Groff. Or the women of “Broad City.” Or Anna Faris (yes, I kind of love “Mom”). Though I also have to admit that despite my many grievances, I am probably happier with the comedy acting nominations this year than I ever have been before, which says more about the Emmys’ historic poor taste than anything. But that still does offer me quite a few people to actually root for…
BT: Like Amy Poehler! I feel if she’s going to be rewarded for her efforts on “Parks and Recreation,” it will be for its final season next year, but she’s a strong contender for the trophy on Monday, as well. Outside of the predicted winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the only other actress I see with a chance is Taylor Schilling. She could get swept up in the sea of love for “Orange is the New Black” and steal the trophy herself, though I think there’s too much mixed reaction regarding her performance and character for her to beat out the beloved and deserving Poehler and Louis-Dreyfus.
PK: Despite what I said before about “Parks & Rec,” I’d be happy to see Amy win that Emmy because how can you not root for Amy Poehler under any circumstance? And though I do think that could actually happen, I’d suspect it’s down to Schilling and Louis-Dreyfus overall, with Poehler running third. Some of the other comedy races seem a little more “anything could happen,” especially supporting. Either race could more or less go to anyone — save maybe Fred Armisen and Kate McKinnon (variety show nominees never seem to win). In the male race, Tony Hale or Ty Burrell could easily repeat, while Jesse Tyler Ferguson or Adam Driver could take home their first prizes. Or Andre Braugher could sweep in for the first season of “Brooklyn Nine Nine.” And then with the women, first season nominees Allison Janney and Kate Mulgrew could definitely (and deservedly) win for either “Mom” or “Orange Is The New Black,” or they could play it safe (as they tend to do) and give it to perennial nominees Julie Bowen or Mayim Bialik (please no!).
BT: Please no indeed. I feel like the comedy actor race is a bit of a grab bag, too. Ricky Gervais, Don Cheadle, and Matt LeBlanc seem like long shots, even if the first and last deserve it more than two of the favorites: Jim Parsons and William H. Macy. Macy is a genre jumper, switching from drama submissions to the comedy category this year. A nomination is all he deserves, in my mind, while Jim Parsons didn’t even deserve that. Enough is enough with “The Big Bang Theory,” but the Academy voters think otherwise — he could easily walk away with a fourth (fourth!) trophy. Louis C.K. took home an Emmy for writing “Louie” in 2012, but has yet to be rewarded during the Primetime Emmy celebration. Might they give the self-admitted non-actor a trophy as a sort of bonus for his off-camera efforts, much like they did “30 Rock” star Tina Fey?
PK: My fingers are crossed for Louis, and it could very well happen — though I feel like this is going to Parsons or Macy. Neither of which I’d be particularly excited about, either, but they would be in line with the very boring history of this category. The past four years have gone three times to Parsons, and once to Jon Cryer (which is even worse). Switching it up with Macy isn’t exactly a daring change of pace. Though I’m predicting it just because that’s how these people seem to roll — which I guess brings us to the time to call all these comedy categories. What say you?
BT: Well, I think we’re both sticking with Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the Comedy Actress category. It would be hard to deny her a trophy considering “Veep” only continues to get better and her performance matches its accelerated excellence. Plus the TV Academy loves her, so she seems safe. I also think Andre Braugher will benefit from being the only acting/major category nominee for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” He’s deserving and faces fairly weak competition in the Supporting Comedy Actor field. I think we disagree on who will win for the other two acting categories, though. I’m betting Kate Mulgrew will ride high on a wave of “Orange is the New Black” love and Louis C.K. will actually win acting honors — but you’re buying in elsewhere?
PK: I’m following your lead with Louis-Dreyfus. Even though I love her and “Veep,” I do wonder if there’s even a limit to how much love they throw her way (but not enough not to predict her). If they can give Jim Parsons or Helen Hunt and Kelsey Grammer like 100 Emmys in a row, they definitely should be able to do the same for Queen Julia. And as I said, I’m somewhat riskily going with William H. Macy to join her in the winners circle, but I’m agreeing with you on Braugher. I think Mulgrew will lose to Allison Janney for “Mom.” Even though Janney already won last weekend for guest acting on “Masters of Sex,” Emmy voters love her (everybody loves her), and she’s pretty amazing on that show, rising above questionable writing to turn what could have been a mediocre show into a pretty good one.
BT: I’m begrudgingly going with “Orange is the New Black.” As exciting as it will be for the evolution of television to have the first non-traditional “TV” network win the medium’s top prize, I just don’t think Jenji Kohan’s bloated dramedy is deserving. Similar to my aforementioned grudge with Macy’s possible victory — “Orange is the New Black” is not a comedy. It’s not written with the same structure as comedies (it’s an hour long for Pete’s sake!) and produces (at its peak) one-tenth the number of laughs compared to shows half its running length (or less). However, Academy voters don’t seem to mind, so I expect Netflix’s decision to submit their original program as a comedy (and deciding to release Season 2 at the peak of Emmy voting) to pay off with a win.
PK: We’re in agreement here, at least with regarding who is going to win. I don’t mind the category fraud that much, largely just because I heart “Orange Is The New Black” so much — and I think its kind of fitting its going to be the show to end “Modern Family’s” streak. Just because back in 1999, it was a similarly questionable “comedy” that finally brought down the five year reign of “Frasier”: “Ally McBeal.” Sure, I’d rather it be “Louie” or “Veep,” but it won’t be… And hey, we can at least agree that if “Orange” wins, comedy or drama or otherwise, at least it’s not “Modern Family” winning again.
BT: It’s honestly a coin flip for me regarding whether I’d rather see a true comedy still churning out entertaining episodes win over a false idol built up to end the tyranny of a predictably boring Emmys ceremony. But in the spirit of the category, I’ll try to be happy with either winner.
PK: Good luck with that!
The 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards air Monday night, August 22, at 8pm ET (5pm PT) on NBC.