EMMY 2012: The Comedies

So the 2012 Primetime Emmy award nominations are out. With a few exceptions, which I’ll elaborate on in the very near future, this is a solid list. Between now and the September 23rd telecast, let’s take a glimpse into each category (who should would, who will win, and who was left by the wayside). We’ll start with the funny!

COMEDY SERIES

The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
Girls (HBO)
Modern Family (ABC)
30 Rock (NBC)
Veep (HBO)

Right off the bat I’ll admit that I don’t watch The Big Bang Theory. Is it a deserving nominee? Maybe, maybe not, but that’s a topic best left to a more avid fan. Now as far these other five bad boys are concerned, I watch ’em all (although in the case of Curb, it’s out of habit rather than desire or excitement). Don’t get me wrong. Back in the day, Curb was a wonder that arguably rivaled “parent show” Seinfeld in terms of its audacity and intricately structured plots. But the move to New York coupled with the loss of Cheryl kind of made the show a drag. Liked Michael J. Fox in the season finale, and the car periscope episode scored laugh after laugh from my couch. But overall, the show has run its course. And the absence of Community and Parks and Recreation from this category honestly makes me resent the fact that the show is still on the air. Still think Larry David is a genius, but I would love to see him helm a new project.

Next up, another modern day genius, one of my heroes and yours, Tina Fey. 30 Rock is getting ready for its victory lap, and I only have high hopes given the strength of this past season. When most shows are starting to run on fumes (oh, The Office! how I used to love thee so!), 30 Rock is firing on all cylinders. From Liz ‘s Joker versus Jack’s tuxedo wearing superhero to Kelsey Grammer’s one-man show about Abe Lincoln, from Jenna breaking up the Woggles to the introduction of crazy Hazel, from the Avery Jessup TV movie to Tracy learning the lesson of Leap Day William, and from James Marsden as Criss to Jon Hamm in blackface. I don’t think it’s going to claim the prize, but I will not be the least bit upset if Fey and Co. make their way onto the stage.

From seniors to freshman, next we have Veep. Julia Louis-Dreyfus returns as what I assumed was going to a Sarah Palin-esque opportunist. Well fictional Vice President Selina Meyer is definitely out for herself, but she’s no dummy. In fact, Selina is the anti-Leslie Knope. Where Parks and Rec’s heroine truly wants and believes she can make a difference, Selina just wants the President to return her calls and for the tabloids to shift their focus from her inadvertent racist remarks and unplanned pregnancy (luckily, in Selina’s world, she suffers a miscarriage that she describes as a “heavy period”). Louis-Dreyfus is backed by a strong ensemble, the standouts being Anna Chlumsky’s (remember My Girl?!) Amy, Tony Hale’s Gary, and Matt Walsh’s Mike (best moment of the pilot? Mike hoping for the death of Tom Hanks to lead the news cycle to cover Selina’s latest faux pas). It’s a little twisted to be sure, but Veep has the makings of a classic workplace comedy. I doubt it will receive the Emmy for these first eight episodes, but it’s nice to see it in the mix.

That brings us to the show that will win and the show that should win. Now let me be clear; I am in no way a Modern Family hater. Is it the best show on television? No way. But it’s well-acted by an ensemble with great chemistry, and it features some of the best child actors ever on the small screen. Too often the three branches of the Pritchett and Dunphy clans are islanded in separate plots. But when everyone comes together, the show can be a riot (“Aunt Mommy” starts with a night out featuring too many drinks and morphs into the family members dancing around the possibility of Claire carrying a baby for Mitch and Cameron). Episodes like that keep me watching, and obviously Emmy voters are in love with the show. So if I were a betting woman, I’d put money on the show to three-peat. But I’d rather see another newbie claim this title.

Girls is star/creator Lena Dunham’s exploration of what it means to be young, brilliant, and nearly broke in Brooklyn. Hannah and her friends straddle the line between what they are, what they were, and what they want to be. It’s not a typical comedy, and it’s not quite a drama. In fact, Girls might be the only reality show in an era when the airwaves are saturated with them. This is what “growing up” for an immature generation used to instant gratification while thumbing their nose at “real world” responsibilities is all about. Does aspiring writer Hannah come off as a brat when her parents cut her off? Sure, but you get her bewilderment because she comes from a family unit that insisted she could do something spectacular. From her parents’ perspective, it’s taking too long and costing too much. Her best friend, Marnie, seems to have it together (a job, a boyfriend, etc.). The end of that relationship coupled with her subsequent resentment of Hannah’s suddenly serious relationship with the complicated Adam, reveals Marnie as one of those girls who needs to be the winner of the group and kind of freaks out when she isn’t. Their friend, Jessa, is the free spirit confronted with the fact that her carefree and careless actions have consequences. So she ends the season running away into what she thinks is maturity, an impulsive marriage. And Jessa’s cousin, Shoshanna, just wants to get laid (she does). It’s messy, funny, uncomfortable, and glorious. In short, there’s nothing quite like it on TV right now. I want to see Girls win. I suspect it won’t, but let’s hope the Emmy recognition puts it on everyone’s radar.

So what do you think? Who do you want to win? Stay tuned as we delve into the other categories!

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