Daily Arts Dream Emmy Ballots: Outstanding Comedy Series
It’s Emmy nomination season: Voters in the Television Academy have just finished casting their ballots for who will be in the group of nominees announced on July 14. This year, Daily Arts Writers and Editors wanted to join in the fun, putting together our lists of who we want to be among the nominees. We’re continuing this series with Outstanding Comedy Series:
Matthew Barnauskas, Daily TV/New Media Editor:
“Master of None” — The auteur comedy is one of the most popular trends on television right now. Ever since the emergence of “Louie,” several comedians have tried to capture the honest, often vulnerable voice that often defines the subgenre. Few have been as successful as “Master of None,” created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang. Often tackling large social issues, “Master of None” gradually began to peel back the personal doubts and fears that Ansari’s Dev faced, forming an insightful comedy that wasn’t afraid to look inward.
“Silicon Valley” — Always ready to meet its cast of characters with seemingly endless challenges, “Silicon Valley” continued its path of high-stakes comedy as Pied Piper began to develop and introduce its platform to the world. Buoyed by a brilliant cast and pitch-perfect satire of the tech industry, “Silicon Valley” continued to deliver in a third season while making sure we never looked at horses the same way again.
“Documentary Now!” — Part tribute and part satire, “Documentary Now!” often found different ways to both lovingly send-up its subject matter while breaking down the conventions and methods of the form. Whether it was a last minute, frightening turn in “Sandy Passages” or “The Eye Doesn’t Lie,” masterfully amplifying the absurd incompetence put on display in “The Thin Blue,” “Documentary Now!” was both a celebration of documentaries and a hilarious deconstruction at the same time.
“Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp” — Operating at nearly a mile-a-minute pacing, “First Day of Camp” returned to Camp Firewood with 15 years of experience under its belt, creating a prequel that substantially improved upon the burgeoning comedic voice seen in the original. Cross-camp rivalries, mysterious guitar players and Reagan-era conspiracies unfolded, barely leaving a breath for air between the laughs.
“You’re the Worst” — Depression is always a difficult topic to tackle in almost any form of media; yet, “You’re the Worst” succeeded where many others failed. Owing much to the performances by leads Aya Cash and Chris Gere (especially Cash), “You’re the Worst” guided viewers through the struggles of a couple effected by clinical depression. Meanwhile, a strong supporting cast often saw characters facing the challenges of moving forward in life. Combine that with the biting, often acidic humor of the series, “You’re the Worst” was one of the year’s best.
“BoJack Horseman” — Ah screw it, if “Family Guy” can get nominated for Best Comedy then “BoJack Horseman” should be able to as well. Building on the its first season’s later successes, “BoJack” took a funny, often tragic look at the isolating issues of fame and the title character’s own destructive cycle. Culminating in the penultimate episode, “Escape From LA,” “BoJack” often pushed its character in ways that its live-action competition often wouldn’t touch.
Alex Intner, Summer Managing Arts Editor:
“Jane the Virgin”
In a fantastic year for comedy, narrowing down my ballot to six shows was quite tough. Series like “Master of None” or “Galavant” made good arguments to be on the final list, but I wanted to highlight other series which each do something special. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is an odd show, but it takes a portrayal of mental illness and wraps it in a brilliant musical. The show is so different from everything else on television and succeeds largely because of Rachel Bloom’s fantastic performance. “Jane the Virgin” is simultaneously one of the funniest, warmest and most dramatic shows on television. It embraces its telenovela roots to make a show that’s both insane and grounded, a remarkable achievement. “Mom” is on this list because it dives deeper into something dark than any other CBS sitcom, creating a show that has a real heart and is hysterically funny at the same time. “Review” is an idea that should never work, but Andy Daly finds a way to make the trials of Forrest MacNeil, life reviewer, hilariously dark. They put Forrest through the wringer this season, in a captivating manner. Both of the spring HBO comedies are coming off their best season yet. “Silicon Valley” ’s evisceration of the tech industry keeps finding ways to make their concept feel fresh and creating new opportunities for laughs (and animal appearances). “Veep” continued its sharp satire of the political industry with a season that pushed Selina to some tough places as she dealt with a tie in the electoral college. Yet, it never lost its bite or its ability to come up with some of the worst but funniest insults I’ve ever heard.
Anay Katyal, Summer Senior Arts Editor:
“Fresh Off The Boat”
“Master of None”
“Mozart in the Jungle”
“Broad City” and its galavanting, prescient takes on the life of a generation so-stories in today’s media makes for a brand of comedy that's unique in itself (and among some of the best available). “Fresh Off The Boat” has been a revelation for network television, providing a unique and humorous spin on the lives of Asian Americans (and being a masterful first avenue for Asian representation on a major network sitcom). Along a similar vein (but on a more serious note), “Master of None” and it's various intelligent and pointed approaches toward the quandaries of racial representation and living the life of a twentysomething in today’s day and age provides a kind of thoughtful commentary that’d be amiss on television without it. Though not a conventionally sexy topic, “Mozart in the Jungle” makes orchestral music a compelling (and dramatically comedic) piece of television, featuring an ensemble cast that works extremely well off of each other in an already well-written script. “Veep” continues its run as an intelligent take of the American political landscape, crafting a brand of satire that commentates on the absurdities of American politics wonderfully. “Transparent” and it's intelligent approach, skillful ensemble cast and well-crafted on transgender life in today’s age made for ground-breaking (and enjoyable) television.
Megan Mitchell, Daily Arts Writer:
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
“Master of None”
“You’re the Worst”
This is the year for comedy series. Netflix drew in more laughs than any major network with the installment of the second season of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and the breakout season of Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None,” both of which were critically acclaimed for their comedic talents. Ellie Kemper stood out in her return to “Unbreakable” and Ansari charmed his way through a ten-episode run of “Master of None.” ABC sitcoms “Black-ish” and “Modern Family” brought in consistently stellar reviews for their respective seasons, as “Black-ish” touched on important cultural issues while “Modern Family” was critically received as “predictable” (Rotten Tomatoes) by the conclusion of its seventh season, although it still aims to please the audience. Meanwhile, two relationship haters find love in FXX’s edgy new series “You’re the Worst,” which displays a rare look at relationships during their most vulnerable and avoids the sophomore slump with expert precision in writing. On the same note, Hulu has come into the Emmy mix with their original series, “Casual,” which showcases relationships in an inappropriate, yet familiar familial manner.
Sam Rosenberg, Daily Arts Writer:
“Jane the Virgin”
“Master of None”
“You’re The Worst”
All six of these shows deserve praise, not just for making people laugh, but also for influencing viewers with their progressive themes, strong character development, and clever writing. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “You’re The Worst” dealt delicately with clinical depression and mental health issues, but also kept the overall tone brisk and funny, the former through musical comedy and the latter through dark humor. Helmed by comedian Aziz Ansari and other exemplary writers, directors, and actors, “Master of None” blew everything out of the water in its debut season, offering thought-provoking and entertaining explorations into fame, relationships, sexism, and racial stereotypes. Creators and actresses Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson continued to bring their A-game in “Broad City,” delivering both hysterical anecdotes and illuminating some buried tensions between the two best friends. Even with “Transparent” ’s comedic undertones, the Amazon series managed to delve deeper into the lives of the dysfunctional Pffeferman clan, thanks to Jill Soloway’s sensitive direction and authentic depiction of family dynamics.