Monday, December 5, 2022

2022 Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy Contenders

By Adriano Caporusso 

This year’s Outstanding Comedy Series category at the Emmys is really tricky to determine which shows will be nominated at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards. There are so many returning Emmy staples this year and brand-new shows for the Television Academy to choose from. While I can’t say for sure what the eight nominees will be, I’ve put together all the shows worth considering and broke down how likely they are to make the lineup below.

​Returning Shows

2022 Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy Contenders

After four years since Robbin’ Season, the multi-Emmy nominated series is finally back, and I think I speak for everyone who watched this latest season when I say, “that was weird.” And I don’t mean weird in the typical “Atlanta” fashion. This season’s decision to sideline its main cast was an odd choice and probably the direct cause of this season’s very minimal buzz. And because of that, I don’t think the third season of “Atlanta” can hope to just get in off of a name check. The season is still critically acclaimed, so it might still capture an Outstanding Comedy series nod. But due to the lack of buzz and, besides Brian Tyree Henry, the actors looking unlikely to get nominated, it’s highly possible that “Atlanta” sits out this season.

Similar to “Atlanta,” “Barry” returned for its third season after a four-year absence. Unlike “Atlanta,” though, Bill Hader and Alec Berg’s dark comedy seems to have more buzz than ever before. The general consensus seems to be that this is its funniest, darkest and best season yet, after two already incredible seasons. The show has received multiple Emmy nominations in the past, including Outstanding Series for both seasons, with Henry Winkler winning Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for the first season and Bill Hader winning Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for both seasons. I can’t really think of a reason not to predict this in the Outstanding Comedy Series category; in fact, I can even make a case for this to win at the end of the day.

“Black-ish” has a very interesting history with the Emmys. Anthony Anderson was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series every single season for its first seven seasons. Meanwhile, the show itself was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series for five seasons. So even though there have been seasons where they only nominated Anderson, they clearly admire the show itself. As it enters its 8th and final season, there’s definitely a reason to believe the Emmys will acknowledge this in Outstanding Comedy Series one last time. Buzz seems to be extremely low for this one, so I’ll say they won’t, outside of Anderson, but be on the lookout for a surprise nomination.

Curb Your Enthusiasm
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” is an interesting contender this year. Its 11th season wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t too well received either. I think it’s appreciated enough that it could still get in on a namecheck. The HBO sitcom has been nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series 9 out of the 11 seasons, most recently in its 10th season, which managed to get a series nod without any other above-the-line nominations, even missing Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Larry David. That could be interpreted as a sign of the Emmys’ passion for the show declining, or it shows the love is still strong because it wasn’t like there wasn’t competition in the category that year (“Black-ish,” “The Great,” “Ramy,” etc.). Either way, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is definitely a show to still keep an eye on after all of these years.

The Flight Attendant
The second season of “The Flight Attendant” is, admittedly, a step down from its first. However, a Best Actress nomination for Kaley Cuoco seems inevitable, plus it was nominated for a handful of awards last year, so it is perhaps worth looking at again. Unfortunately, while its first season is a wickedly entertaining murder mystery, this season’s full-blown international espionage plot doesn’t mesh as well with the grounded human elements of the storytelling. On top of that, the mystery plot isn’t the most accessible compared to its first season. I won’t say it’s impossible for it to show up again, but I don’t find this season catching another Outstanding Comedy Series nod to be that likely either.

The Great
“The Great’s” second season is unquestionably better than the already spectacular first season. While its first season didn’t land an Outstanding Comedy Series nomination, which is undeniably a bad sign, it did manage to grab a nod for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Direction for a Comedy Series. Elle Fanning got nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy at the Golden Globes, the Critics Choice, and at the SAG Awards, where the show itself got nominated for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. There isn’t really any concrete reason to say Hulu’s outrageous comedy won’t show up again; the problem is that it’s not exactly popular enough to guarantee a slot in an already stacked race. Hulu does have other priorities; however, I can easily see them squeezing another nominee into the Outstanding Comedy Series category.

This is one of those instances where I’m struggling to find a con for “Hacks‘” second season to be nominated. This season is wilder and funnier than the first, plus it doesn’t hurt that it’s been growing in momentum thanks in part to the excellent awards run for its first season, with Jean Smart winning every single comedy actress award, including the Golden Globe, SAG, Critics Choice Award, and the Emmy last year. It’s clear that the Television Academy likes the show, considering alongside Smart, the show won Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series over eventual series winner “Ted Lasso.” Make no mistake; “Hacks” is most certainly getting an Outstanding Comedy Series nod once again.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” has been an Emmys staple since its premiere season, where it won Outstanding Comedy series. Since then, it’s been nominated every season for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Rachel Brosnahan (who won for its first season), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Alex Borstein (who won for its first two seasons), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Tony Shalhoub (who won for its second season) and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series (winning for its first season), amongst others. This season might not have the same amount of widespread passion as the others, but it’s still an acclaimed show that gives its fans what they want, so I don’t really see this having a problem landing a nod once again.

Russian Doll
It’s been an odd journey with “Russian Doll.” Initially, I kind of dismissed it, as I was suspicious as to how they could’ve possibly made a second season considering the first season’s concept. However, when it garnered critical acclaim, it hit me that this is Netflix’s only real player in the Oustanding Comedy Series category. Then I watched the season, and now I’m back to dismissal. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, and even if I did, that clearly wouldn’t matter considering the acclaim it’s received. I won’t get into specifics, but the issue I see for voters is that while the first season’s high and ambitious concept was also small enough to grab a broad audience that could land the multiple nominations it got, this season’s high-ambition feels like a lot to take in and can leave voters a little confused and dissatisfied. Given that it’s a previous nominee and the only comedy play for Netflix, I won’t call it impossible, but I don’t see “Russian Doll” repeating this year.

Ted Lasso
I don’t need to explain; you know this is getting in. It’s the reigning champion in this category, and its second season was just as acclaimed as the first, if not more. Jason Sudeikis won every comedy actor award there is; it won Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series at SAG and the Critics Choice Award for Best Comedy Series. Despite it coming out in July of last year, it still remains the frontrunner to win Outstanding Comedy Series a second year in a row. I can confidently say that this is the safest bet to get the nomination.

What We Do In The Shadows
“What We Do In The Shadows” is still going strong three seasons in. The mockumentary is one of three shows produced by Taika Waititi in the race, so it isn’t crazy to think at least one of them has to get in. While the first season didn’t manage any above-the-line nods, its second season managed not just a nod for Outstanding Comedy Series but three nominations for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. It also helps that it’s returning for its 4th season in July. So, even after voting has ended, it does make it more likely that it’ll be on voters’ minds, thus potentially propelling it to another nomination.

​New Shows

2022 Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy Contenders

Abbott Elementary
Abbott Elementary” seems poised to be the network show that lands the Oustanding Comedy Series nod. It’s not a rule or anything, but there’s always been at least one network show in the category, and I don’t see why it won’t be this one. It seems to be the talk of the town as it was a ratings juggernaut, with numbers going as high as 3.45 million and as low as 2.31 million. And it’s not just the popularity, but it also garnered critical acclaim, sitting at 97% on RottenTomatoes with 31 reviews, with critics praising it for its humor and its critique of the U.S. education system. I think this is a pretty safe bet for a nomination.

The Afterparty
After “CODA” at the Oscars this year and “Ted Lasso” at the Emmys last year and potentially also this year, I think it’s safe to say that Apple will be a massive force in the awards campaign scene future. And if I’m being honest, they don’t really have to try that hard to get “Ted Lasso” in, and they have the funds and the skills to get a second comedy series in. Enter “The Afterparty,” a critically acclaimed genre-bending murder mystery. It has a stacked ensemble including Sam Richardson, Tiffany Haddish, and Ben Schwartz, the latter of which has received particular praise and awards buzz. I guess the issue here is that it isn’t too popular, and there is another murder mystery show that’s much more likely to get in, albeit very different kinds. But at the end of the day, my main argument for this show is that now is not the time to doubt Apple.

Only Murders In The Building
Speaking of a murder mystery show, “Only Murders In The Building” is the safest lock for any new show this year for Outstanding Comedy Series. Currently sitting at a 100% RottenTomatos score with 101 reviews and, according to Hulu, the most-watched comedy series on the platform, and has the star-power of comedy icons Steve Martin and Martin Short as well as Selena Gomez, who just recently hosted Saturday Night Live. And if that wasn’t enough, the show received nominations for Best Comedy Series at the Critics Choice, Best Comedy Or Musical Series at the Golden Globes, and Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series at SAG. I feel great about locking this one in for a nomination.

Our Flag Means Death
Like I said with “What We Do In The Shadows,” it isn’t a crazy assumption to say that a Taika show will get in this year. “Our Flag Means Death” doesn’t have the buzz at the moment, but the best thing in this show’s favor is that it’s very lovable. Its gentle and soft tone might not win everybody over, but it could win enough over to score a nomination. HBO Max doesn’t really have any bonafide guarantees aside from “Hacks,” so they could put it in front of voters. On top of that, the show is well received, with particular praise going towards its LGBTQ+ representation. Unfortunately, it’s not a widely watched or buzzed-about show, so I wouldn’t bet on this getting nominated for now. Maybe for the recently announced next season instead?

To me, “Peacemaker” makes perfect sense as a potential nominee. The show received strong notices, currently sitting at a 94% on RottenTomatoes with 86 reviews; it was a massive hit (I know why, but it still helps); it was funny, but it did go into dark territories and is pretty character-focused, plus it has well-known names in front and behind the camera. But despite all that, any buzz geared towards this show has gone directly to its lead, John Cena. And it’s not a genre thing; the Emmys have shown they’re okay with genre shows, as “The Boys,” “Cobra Kai,” “Lovecraft Country,” “The Mandalorian,” and “WandaVision” were all nominated last year alone. I guess that’s due to the show’s raunchy and juvenile humor and its gory violence, which I can see a good chunk of voters being put off by. So while I do believe this is a dark horse, I think this is a case of a stacked year not working in its favor.

Reservation Dogs
The third Taika Waititi show up for comedy series. While “Reservation Dogs” may not be a ratings magnet, it is a well-received show with a 98% on RottenTomatoes from 57 reviews. It has received a sizeable amount of award nominations, including Best Comedy Or Musical Series at the Golden Globes and Best Comedy Series at the Critics Choice. It was even nominated for a Peabody award. The show also could benefit from the fact that it stars and is written by primarily Indigenous people, whose voices are rarely ever shown on TV. The issue does seem to be that time hasn’t been fantastic for this show in terms of buzz, as it began airing on Hulu in early August of last year. So while things aren’t necessarily looking too optimistic, it could still manage to sneak in.

​So with all that said, at this moment, I feel safe predicting six nominees for Outstanding Comedy Series:

Abbott Elementary
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Only Murders In The Building
Ted Lasso

What to do with those last two slots is entirely up to you. Of the returning shows, the most likely would be “Atlanta,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The Great,” or “What We Do In The Shadows,” and of the new shows, I’d look primarily at “The Afterparty” or “Reservation Dogs.” They could play it safe and go with what they’re familiar with, such as “Atlanta” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” or they could mess with us and go for “Our Flag Means Death” and “The Flight Attendant.” Either way, the Outstanding Comedy Series category at this year’s Emmy Awards is a stacked race with some amazing shows, which we all love to see.

Which shows do you think will be nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series at this year’s Emmy Awards? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.

You can follow Adriano and hear more of his thoughts on the Emmys and TV on Twitter at @AdangerC

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