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Before the Ballots: Comedy
2011 Primetime Emmy® Award Pre-Nomination Special Report
by Daisy Whitney
Good morning. It’s Monday, June 13, 2011, and this is the 4th of a five-part series predicting the nominees for this year’s primetime Emmy® Awards. Today’s installment looking at the potential nominees for Outstanding Comedy Series.
BEFORE THE BALLOTS: Outstanding Comedy Series
By Daisy Whitney
Win an Emmy one year and then bam! – you’re the front runner the next one. Funny how that works, but that’s why Modern Family seems the show to beat in the best comedy series category. Leading TV critics, Emmy® handicappers and TV executives alike agree that the second-year ratings juggernaut and critics darling will not only land a nod, but will also have the big bullseye on its back as the comedy to beat all summer long.
“Modern Family is scary good for only its second season. It has the best shot of any network show,” said Frank Nicotero, Comedian and Host of Yahoo TV’s Primetime in No Time.
The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences will officially reveal nominees the morning of July 14. According to Emmy® watchers, at least three shows are virtual locks for best comedy series nods – Modern Family, 30 Rock and The Office. All have won at least once, with 30 Rock having earned the trophy three times. That makes them the usual suspects this go-round, but critics say there’s good reason for near shoe-in status: they all boast strong writing and strong casts and they aren’t afraid to take risks.
But the field is wide, and experts expect to see some fresh faces in the lineup too, such as Parks and Recreation, Community and perhaps even Hot in Cleveland, driven by the career renaissance of the show’s fan favorite Betty White. Musical hit Glee will likely draw serious votes, along with dramedy Nurse Jackie, and never-been-nominated The Big Bang Theory.
Veteran winner 30 Rock collected the gold in its first three seasons, but lost to newcomer Modern Family last year. Variety said the workplace comedy “bounced back” this year with a “killer” fifth season. Other critics too are listing 30 Rock as the show with the strongest chance to beat Modern Family. Then there’s The Office, which won gold in 2006. This year it’s betting on a strong sentimental tide, given that Steve Carrell’s final season just ended, said Maureen Ryan, Television Critic for AOL TV. That sentimentality, though, may translate into more votes for Carell in the acting category rather than the show. Ryan, like others, said Modern Family’s sophomore run will lure lots of votes. “The show’s still a big hit and brings the funny often enough,” she said.
Plus, the writing on Modern Family is “exceptional” and the cast is “strong,” said Jennifer Caserta, Executive VP and General Manager for IFC. Her network is pitching hard for buzzy variety show Portlandia to captivate voters. IFC hosted an Emmy screening in Los Angeles in April with the cast and hopes the hipster chatter surrounding the Fred Armisen-led variety show will win it a nod.
After Jim Parsons’ acting win last year in the comedy field, a number of TV experts believe that network TV ratings powerhouse Big Bang Theory will earn attention in the comedy series category. “It’s about time this show and its entire ensemble, not just the very talented Jim Parsons, was recognized,” Ryan said. Glee, which garnered a freshman year nod, is likely to gain a nomination this year too, even though most critics don’t expect the musical to win. Dramedy Nurse Jackie nabbed a slot on the ballot last year and will likely this year too in large part because the Academy loves Edie Falco, but critics have cited storyline problems with the program this year. Still, both of those shows Nurse Jackie and Glee demonstrate just how genre-bending the TV fare of today has become, Caserta said. “It’s not as cut and dried as it used to be, which makes TV very refreshing. And it’s good for TV and just good for viewers who are exposed to new and different things and to entertainment that bends their mind a bit.”
Parks and Recreation also has a strong shot at a nod, especially following the romance-fueled third season and the addition of Rob Lowe to the cast. With strong characterizations and deadpan humor, the show is a strong contender, experts say.
NBC may also find nomination happiness with Community, which experts have lauded especially for its writing. Fox’s Raising Hope has been the rare freshman breakout comedy, as has TVland’s Hot in Cleveland, a show that’s been cited as a contender in Variety and award prediction site GoldDerby.com . Hot in Cleveland’s buzz is more focused on Betty White and her longevity though, rather than the show as a whole. But that may be enough, especially since the show received a SAG nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
This 5-part series of 2011 Primetime Emmy® Award Pre-Nomination Special Reports are available on the Cynopsis website in our special Primetime Emmy®2011 section.
Daisy Whitney for Cynopsis
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