BEST COMEDY SERIES
Despite all the raves, I can’t in good conscience give Veep a nomination for Best Comedy. While the final episode did at least partially redeem the series, I believe it’s too bleak a mirror of our times to even work as a satire. Also, I think far too many of the cast and crew have gotten too many awards the last few years. (Though unlike Game of Thrones, there are still some cast members who deserve it.) And especially considering that there were so many good comedies this year that did end pleasantly, it would be nice to recognize them instead. Which shows? So glad you asked.
Now, here’s an HBO series that deserves recognition. Avoiding the sophomore slump everybody feared, this was one of the more glorious dramedies that have come out of TV in the new Golden Age. As Barry moved closer to acknowledging his own dark side, while desperately trying to stop killing, the world around him became far more shallow… and deep. This has one of the more engaging casts I’ve seen in awhile, and really does do wild thing that you don’t expect from your comedy series. (The ‘ronny/lily episode, a miniature kung-fu movie was nearly as engaging and off-beat as Atlanta’s Teddy Perkins episode last year.) It may be impossible for Barry to save himself, but it’ll be fun to watch him try.
The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
With all the obsession over Game of Thrones final season, I don’t know why Big Bang Theory’s final year hasn’t been met with nearly the same level of recognition. This comedy may have been the last truly great original network hit. It had a perfect mesh of nerdy laughs and geek humor that rarely got appreciated before. And unlike so many other comedies and dramas, all of the characters on this series evolved in a way that we rarely saw before and have rarely seen since. (Could anyone who saw Howard in the first two seasons imagine him as a happily married father of two?) And unlike Veep, where the central character defiantly refused to change at the cost of personal triumph, Sheldon Cooper used his moment of glory to demonstrate how much he truly had evolved and become a human being. I really don’t know why it hasn’t been talked about more in the field of Emmys nods. It’s won a lot of award but not enough. At least acknowledge it.
Now that the series has been picked up, there are more marvelous things for the show to do. The series is becoming even more of a character piece than it was last year, and as we see this period piece about the early eighties, we realize how far we’ve come — and haven’t. While the relationship between Debbie and Ruth continues to muddle along, the roster of GLOW continues to expand, and become more glorious. Marc Maron’s incredible work remains one of the most undervalued performances on TV series, as he tries to deal with something he never thought he’d have — success. This is the first series by Jenji Kohan that I worship unadornedly and its also by far one of the most daring things on television.
The Good Place (NBC)
The awards shows are finally starting to catch up with one of the most daring and original series on any platform. As Michael tried to bring the four people he has come to care about in order to try and show how to make things words, a series which ended its initial season with one of the darkest twists in the history of television has become in its own way, one of the most optimistic series on TV. I don’t know any other series that would even try to make philosophical discussion part of their work, let alone hysterically funny. And it remains one of the most visual and psychological daring shows anywhere — ‘Janets’ was one of most remarkable episode in the entire 2018–2019 season, visual, acting, and in terms of directing. The series ending season 3 with one of the most heartbreaking moments the series has done so far, and one that makes me really wish that their might be a heaven somewhere. If the Emmy judges don’t recognize this year, they’re out of their forking minds.
So many show these days are about the twisted, corrupted antihero that its startling to find a comedy about a pure and good man. It’s even more bizarre to see that show on Showtime a network where even the comedies reside in the muck. But Michel Gondry and Jim Carrey have collaborated on one of the more daring series in the entire TV universe — a gently surreal, wildly funny series about kids public TV host Jeff Pickles, a man trying to recover from an emotional loss that destroyed his family and left him with a hole inside that not even his eternal optimism will allow him to fill. This is one of this series that actually dares to deal with the medium as a visual, and actually has the mind of a child while remaining fully, horribly adult. The odds on this series making the cut are remote, I know, but it more than has earned it
The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
I undervalued Chuck Lorre’s first work for Netflix when the Golden Globes recognized it for Best Comedy. I won’t make that mistake again. Like the criminally undervalued Grace & Frankie , Kominsky would be a great work just for provided more work for senior actors — mostly male this time. But it reminds that Michael Douglas truly is one of the great comic actors of our time, and watching him try to deal with his acting and romantic life — as well as prostate and financial problems –is truly satisfying. And Alan Arkin’s continued late career renaissance makes us wonder why Hollywood didn’t use him so well for much of what should’ve been his prime years. It’s a real treat to watch this show, and it deserves the recognition it will get.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
For once, I’m hoping the Emmys ridiculous rule of letting the same shows and actors win over and over works in this delightful comedy’s favor. As Midge tries to reach new career heights while dealing with the final collapse of her marriage, there are problems all around. Her mother takes off for Paris. Her father falls out of love with his dream job. She tries to build a new career with dangerous people (sort of) following her and her manager everywhere. Amy Sherman-Palladino got recognition that has been owed her for nearly twenty years, as did almost its entire cast of female leads. And according to the early responds on awards, its looking like the critics think so too. I really hope the rest of the Emmy voters hold the line.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
Jane The Virgin (CW)
There’s no logic to it. None at all. With the Emmys recognizes series that aren’t even on TV, how can they ignore a network show, no matter how fringe? Right now, it’s going to depend on how this telenovela satire ends to see whether it or Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ends up being one of the greatest shows of 2010s. What I know with certainty is that this series deserves to be recognized for something in its final season. From the incredible revelation that Michael was still alive, to Xo’s triumph over cancer, to what appears to be the final resolution of the Jane-Rogelio-Michael love triangle, and the realization that just because you have a miracle child doesn’t mean he’s perfect, this is a series that deserved to be considered for awards before you realized it basically has an all Latino cast. This series has never been more relevant. But forget that. It’s all one of the crowning achievements of comedy. Emmy judges: don’t fail to note this.