Welcome to the 2019 Emmy Circuit series, where we analyze and predict all your favorite TV series and their chances with the Television Academy (at least at this time of publishing). The series examines the shows and performances about their awards potential, most notably the Emmy Awards. Emmy nomination voting opens June 10 and closes on June 24. The official Emmy nominations will be announced on Tuesday, July 16 while the ceremony airs on FOX Sunday, Sept. 22. All Emmy pieces run with the following schedule: Mondays (Dramas), Tuesdays (Network Spotlight), Wednesdays (Comedies), Thursdays (Network Spotlight), Fridays (Limited Series, Variety Series, Below-the Lines).
“The Other Two” looks like Comedy Central’s best shot at getting their first primetime nomination for a scripted series. The freshman series has corralled a small, yet the passionate amount of fans. This recalls Amazon Prime’s “Catastrophe,” which was able to get a surprise writing nomination. One particularly hilarious episode on a plane filled with teenage fans seems like the perfect writing submission for the show. In fact, if enough voters fall for the show, it could be a dark horse to sneak into the Comedy Series race.
Additionally, acting nominations might not be far off for the show. SNL alum Molly Shannon delivers an incredible performance as the matriarch of this eccentric family. Shannon has only contended twice in the guest actress category (“Will and Grace,” “Enlightened”). She deserves to be up for Supporting Actress. Newcomers Helene Yorke, Drew Tarver and Case Walker are all longshots in Actor, Actress and Supporting Actor. Yet, if anyone (outside of Shannon) deserves an acting nomination, it’s Kate Berlant in Guest Actress for her performance as a hilariously foul-mouthed agent.
“The Other Two” may be Comedy Central’s shiny new toy. However, one must not forget about their flagship scripted series, “Broad City.” Everyone’s favorite Brooklyn-ites said goodbye this year as the show celebrated their fifth and final season. Unfortunately, the show has never received a Primetime Emmy nomination. In fact, web series “Hack Into Broad City” has performed better than the actual series, in terms of Emmys. “Hack Into Broad City” received 2 nominations for Outstanding Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series. Meanwhile, “Broad City” has only received a win for a juried motion design award in 2018. As good as the show is, the odds are stacked against it breaking into the primetime ceremony for its final season.
Also vying for space in the comedy categories are “Corporate” and “Detroiters” on Comedy Central. “Corporate” recently finished its second season in March. Meanwhile, “Detroiters” was recently cancelled following last summer’s second season.
“South Park” remains a mainstay in the Animated Program category. It’s racked up seventeen nominations in the category, including one for its “Imaginationland: The Movie” special. However, it’s only won five times, with the last win being in 2013. Both Trey Parker and Matt Stone also received nominations for voice acting in 2016. The show should expect an Animated Program nomination this year, but can it break into voice acting again this year?
The legacy of “The Daily Show” looms large over host Trevor Noah. Jon Stewart led the program to eleven Variety Talk Series wins, eight Variety Writing wins and one Variety Directing win. So far, Trevor Noah has only broken into the Variety Talk category once. However, that breakthrough happened last year. Perhaps voters have warmed to the host since his 2015 debut. Noah looks like a strong contender this year. However, it’s worth noting the other five nominees in the category are also returning this year. This includes “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” which won the past two consecutive years. Having a field full of incumbents will make it hard for “The Jim Jefferies Show,” Comedy Central’s other offering, to break in.
Comedy Central isn’t all talk. It also features multiple Variety Sketch Series contenders. The most high profile of these is “Drunk History,” which has been nominated for the past four consecutive seasons. After four seasons, the show still hasn’t won the big prize. Instead, fellow Comedy Central shows (“Inside Amy Schumer” and “Key & Peele”) and “Saturday Night Live” have beat it in the past. “SNL” looks to be the frontrunner once again. Yet, two years ago “Drunk History” added on a Variety Directing nomination to its tally. If it’s able to break into Directing again or writing for the first time, it could position itself as a dark horse contender.
In addition to “Drunk History,” Comedy Central also features a new entry into the variety sketch category. “The New Negroes with Baron Vaughn and Open Mike Eagle” premieres on Friday, April 19th simulcast on Comedy Central and BET. The Harlem Renaissance show includes stand-up performances, original music videos, and guest singers and actors. Two of last years slots are vacated, as “Portlandia” and “I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman” have both ended. Depending on the reception, we could see this take one of those two slots in the Variety Sketch category.
That’s not all! There are plenty more variety sketch series that also look to take advantage of the two vacancies in the category. “Tosh.0,” “This Is Not Happening,” “This Week at The Comedy Cellar,” and “Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents” all are contending in Outstanding Variety Sketch Series.
Getting into the Variety Special category is no laughing matter. The category has been dominated by the Kennedy Center Honors, awards shows and, most recently, Carpool Karaoke. Comedians have started to break into the category, such as “Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo,” “Sarah Silverman: A Speck of Dust” and “Bill Maher: Live from D.C.” Comedy Central looks to continue that trend with a large number of pre-recorded specials that could make it in this year. This includes “Roy Wood Jr.: No One Loves You,” “Chris Distefano: Size 38 Waist,” “Ron Funches: Giggle Fit,” “James Davis: Live From The Town,” and “Goatface: A Comedy Special”
As for upcoming specials on Comedy Central, be on the lookout for Jordan Klepper’s upcoming docu-series “Klepper” and Desi Lydic’s one-hour special “Desi Lydic: Abroad.” Both programs have not yet announced their classification for Emmys but could be players in whatever field they choose.
AWARDS HISTORY AND PRECURSORS
Comedy Central dominates the Variety categories. The cable channel won the Outstanding Variety Talk Series category thirteen consecutive years (2003 – 2015). “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” represented eleven of these wins. Though it was a juggernaut for a full decade, “The Colbert Report” was able to dethrone it for 2013 – 2014, before Stewart won once more in 2015. Just last year, “The Daily Show” re-entered the category, this time with Trevor Noah behind the desk. However, he lost to “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” on HBO. Will Comedy Central reign again in this category? Read to find out.
Comedy Central’s dominance across the Variety categories extends outside of the Talk category. The channel has won thirteen additional awards in the Primetime Awards show. This includes ten writing awards (“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report”), one directing award (“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”) and two Outstanding Variety Sketch Series awards (“Inside Amy Schumer” and “Key & Peele”). The best year for the channel came recently in 2015, where it reaped 14 primetime nominations. This includes four nominations in the Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series category (out of five nominees).
While Comedy Central excels in the Variety Talk and Sketch Series categories, it’s been harder to get its specials into the races. Comedy Central contended once in Outstanding Variety Special for “The Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner” in 2007. Additionally, it was also able to make it into the Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special category for “6 Days to Air: The Making of South Park” in 2012.
In terms of scripted content, Comedy Central has yet to get nominated. Could “The Other Two” break this curse? The channel has been able to break into the acting categories with its variety programs. Amy Schumer and Keegan Michael Key both received two nominations each in Lead Actress and Supporting Actor, respectively. Additionally, Sarah Silverman was also able to get into Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for “The Sarah Silverman Show.” This shows that Comedy Central has some history in the major acting categories. Perhaps it can make it back into these categories with their scripted content.
THE NETWORK CONCLUSION
It seems unlikely that Comedy Central will match its record fourteen nominations from 2016. However, the network could still have a very strong showing on Emmys morning. “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” and “Drunk History” are both easy bets in the Variety categories, as is “South Park” in Animated Program. The biggest wild card will be the performance of “The Other Two.” I predict it will at least get Molly Shannon into the Supporting Actress category. However, I could be tempted to make “no guts no glory” predictions for it in writing and guest actress. With the right campaign, anything is possible.