Friday, October 7, 2022

Predicting The 2021 Emmy Award Winners: Outstanding Comedy Writing & Directing

By Amanda Spears 

If you remember from last year’s Emmys and my Golden Globe, SAG Awards, and Oscars predictions, I try my best to leave emotion out of making my predictions. I’m going to take you television fans through how to make your Emmy predictions and win your pool methodically. Next up in this series of articles is Outstanding Comedy Writing and Directing.​

Six years ago, the Emmys moved to a plurality vote replacing the more level playing field of 80 to 100-person panels ranking the nominees. Since we spend more time watching television than a film, it’s easier to let our personal preferences affect our predictions as we try to manifest a win for our favorites.

Let’s look at how to predict the winners for Outstanding Comedy Directing and Writing based on recent trends…

Outstanding Comedy Directing Nominees
“Pilot” – “B Positive” directed by James Burrows
“In Case Of Emergency” “The Flight Attendant” directed by Susanna Fogel
“There Is No Line (Pilot)” “Hacks” directed by Lucia Aniello
“Scooby-Doo Checks And Salisbury Steak” “Mom” directed by James Widdoes
“Biscuits “Ted Lasso” directed by Zach Braff 
“The Hope That Kills You” Ted Lasso” directed by MJ Delaney 
“Make Rebecca Great Again” Ted Lasso” directed by Declan Lowney

Outstanding Comedy Writing Nominees
“In Case of Emergency” “The Flight Attendant” written by Steve Yockey
“Pilot” “Girls5eva” written by Meredith Scardino
“There Is No Line (Pilot)” “Hacks” written by Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky
“Play” “Pen15” written by Maya Erskine
“Make Rebecca Great Again” Ted Lasso” teleplay by Jason Sudeikis, story by Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly
“Pilot” Ted Lasso” teleplay & Story by Jason Sudeikis and Bill Lawrence story by Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly

For the past three years, on the Comedy side, your series has to be nominated if you’re going to win anything – except for “Saturday Night Live” in the acting categories. For directing, that leaves…

Outstanding Comedy Directing Nominees
“In Case of Emergency” “The Flight Attendant” directed by Susanna Fogel
“There Is No Line (Pilot)” “Hacks” directed by Lucia Aniello
“Biscuits “Ted Lasso” directed by Zach Braff 
“The Hope That Kills You” Ted Lasso” directed by MJ Delaney 
“Make Rebecca Great Again” Ted Lasso” directed by Declan Lowney

And for writing, that leaves us with…

Outstanding Comedy Writing Nominees
“In Case of Emergency” “The Flight Attendant” written by Steve Yockey
“There Is No Line (Pilot)” “Hacks” written by Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky
“Play” “Pen15” written by Maya Erskine,
“Make Rebecca Great Again” Ted Lasso” teleplay by Jason Sudeikis, story by Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly
“Pilot” Ted Lasso” teleplay & Story by Jason Sudeikis and Bill Lawrence story by Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly

No series has won Outstanding Comedy Directing with multiple nominees since “Modern Family’s” “Baby on Board” (2012). Last year, “Schitt’s Creek” was able to win Outstanding Comedy Writing for “Happy Ending” (written by Dan Levy”) with multiple other nominations; however, there was a seven-year gap with “30 Rock’s” “Last Lunch” (written by Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield) in 2013, the last to do so previously. Let’s go ahead and eliminate the multiple nominees. For directing, the only two left are…

Outstanding Comedy Directing Nominees
“In Case of Emergency” “The Flight Attendant” directed by Susanna Fogel
“There Is No Line (Pilot)” “Hacks” directed by Lucia Aniello

And for writing, we’re down to…

Outstanding Comedy Writing Nominees
“In Case of Emergency” “The Flight Attendant” written by Steve Yockey
“There Is No Line (Pilot)” “Hacks” written by Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky
“Pilot” Ted Lasso” teleplay & Story by Jason Sudeikis and Bill Lawrence story by Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly

Multiple nominees may prove how popular a series is within a respected branch, but recently, it’s been hard for a series to overcome in both writing and directing. Take “Barry,” for example. The series received multiple writing nominations in 2018 and numerous directing nominations in 2018 and 2019. While the series has racked up multiple WGA and DGA wins, they have yet to win an Emmy in either category. “Schitt’s Creek” broke this trend – but will this continue?

The streamlined approach has proven to be the best strategically. In the past three years, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” “Pilot” (written and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino), “Fleabag” “Episode 1” (written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge and directed by Harry Bradbeer), and “Happy Ending” for “Schitt’s Creek” not only swept writing and directing but also went on to win Outstanding Comedy Series.

This year’s Comedic race at large appears to be a three-horse race between “Ted Lasso,” “Hacks,” and “The Flight Attendant.” “Hacks” and “The Flight Attendant” were strategically brilliant by submitting their respective pilots. “Ted Lasso,” the favorite to win Outstanding Comedy Series, on the other hand, submitted multiple episodes with only “Make Rebecca Great Again” showing up in both categories. However, it’s neither the pilot nor the season/series finale – it’s also not their best episode. 

Baring a shocking surprise, it would appear (as of now) that Writing and Directing are going to split. In 2010, the race was between “Glee” and “Modern Family.” “Modern Family” and its respective pilot (written by Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd) won Writing while “Glee” (Ryan Murphy) and its longer, flashier pilot won Directing. Fast-forward to 2015, and the race was between “Veep” and newcomer “Transparent.” “Veep” took home writing for “Election Night” (Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, and Tony Roche) and “Transparent” took Directing for a more technically inclined “Best New Girl” (Jill Soloway). Both writing victors would go on to win Series.

Final Outstanding Comedy Directing Predictions
1. “In Case of Emergency”  “The Flight Attendant” directed by Susanna Fogel
2. “The Hope That Kills You”  “Ted Lasso” directed by MJ Delaney 
3. “There Is No Line (Pilot)”  “Hacks” directed by Lucia Aniello
4. “Make Rebecca Great Again”  “Ted Lasso” directed by Declan Lowney
5. “Biscuits “ “Ted Lasso” directed by Zach Braff 
6. “Scooby-Doo Checks And Salisbury Steak”  “Mom” directed by James Widdoes
7. “Pilot”  “B Positive” directed by James Burrows,

Final Outstanding Comedy Writing Nominees
1. “Pilot”  “Ted Lasso” teleplay & Story by Jason Sudeikis and Bill Lawrence story by Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly
2. “There Is No Line (Pilot)”  “Hacks” written by Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky
3. “In Case of Emergency”  “The Flight Attendant” written by Steve Yockey
4. “Make Rebecca Great Again”  “Ted Lasso” teleplay by Jason Sudeikis, story by Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly
5. “Play”  “Pen15” written by Maya Erskine,
6. “Pilot”  “Girls5eva” written by Meredith Scardino

Considering the above, that’s how I came to my Outstanding Comedy Writing Prediction: “Pilot”  “Ted Lasso.” It’s hard to see any of the three top contenders not winning at least one of the top tech awards on their way to a Series win. Helping “Ted Lasso’s” case is its recent win at the WGA Awards. However, it didn’t have to compete against the meta- “Hacks” pilot “There Is No Line.” Look out for a possible “Hacks” upset –it’s important to remember that the writers vote for the writing Emmy winner, and the meta storyline of a writer being canceled for a tweet and going to work for a stand-up comedian could prove to be irresistible. 

The split should help “The Flight Attendant,” and its high-energy pilot walk away with the Directing Prize. Like “Ted Lasso,” “The Flight Attendant” scored earlier this year, winning the DGA Award. “Ted Lasso’s” moving season finale is action-packed, but it’s been a decade (2011) since “Modern Family” swept with two different episodes: Directing for “Halloween” (Michael Spiller”) and Writing for “Caught in the Act” (Steven Levitan and Jeffrey Richman). Boiling it down to history favors all or one, but if you must choose, pick Writing.

Do you agree or disagree with my logic? What are you predicting to win the Emmys for the Outstanding Comedy Series Writing/Directing categories? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Twitter account. Stay tuned for more articles on the Emmys as I finalize my predictions for the 2021 Emmy Awards taking place on September 19th.

You can follow Amanda and hear more of her thoughts on the Emmys and TV on Twitter at @msamandaspears

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