Emmy predictions: Will comedy voters crown ‘Glee’ or ‘Modern Family’?

Senior Television Writer
08.26.10 17 Comments


Yesterday, I offered my predictions for the Emmy drama categories. Today, it’s the comedies’ turn. (And in between, Fienberg offered up his own picks. Later today, we’ll be posting a podcast where we discuss all of this.)

As I explained yesterday, I’m not good at predicting this stuff, and you need to factor in that all the awards are voted on based on a single episode (for the acting/writing/directing categories) or on a handful of episodes (for the series categories), which only complicates things more. When predicting who will win, you can’t just ask who was the best over the whole season. You have to look at who picked the right episode and who didn’t. (You can see the full list of actor submissions here.)

After the jump, my comedy picks for who should and who will win:

Outstanding Comedy Series: “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO), “Glee” (FOX), “Modern Family” (ABC), “Nurse Jackie” (SHO), “The Office” (NBC), “30 Rock” (NBC)

Should win: Of these six (since I was disappointed but not surprised to see a lack of nominations for “Parks and Recreation” and “Community”), “Curb” had by far the funniest season, as Larry David got to do a “Seinfeld” reunion his own terms, bringing that great comedy better closure than he provided in its own finale a decade earlier. Some of the “Seinfeld”-lite episodes were sketchy, but that group also included the hilarious “Vehicular Fellatio” and “The Bare Midriff.”

Will win:
You should never underestimate the inertia of Emmy voters leading to “30 Rock” winning again for a very weak season, but odds are this is going to be a coronation of one of the two hot rookies: “Modern Family” or “Glee.” “Glee” got more hype, but Emmy voters on the whole tend to be conservative, and “Modern Family” is essentially a traditional family sitcom minus the laughtrack and plus a quasi-documentary format. Everyone in town – particularly everyone with a lot of comedies on their resume – seemed happy that that show’s success finally put a stop to all the “Is the sitcom dead?” stories, and it may win for that alone. (And also for being awfully funny.)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:
Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock” (NBC), Steve Carell, “The Office” (NBC), Larry David, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO), Matthew Morrison, “Glee” (FOX), Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS), Tony Shalhoub, “Monk” (USA)

Should win: It’s ridiculous that Carell has yet to win one of these, but he wasn’t particularly well-served by this very bad season for “The Office.” Parsons deserved to win last year, but “Big Bang” this season pushed a little too far into becoming The Sheldon Show, and Parsons’ work seemed stale at times as a result. But I go with David, whose work this season opposite the stiff-as-always Jerry Seinfeld was a reminder of just what a good comic actor he’s become. Forget about making the choice based on a single episode; I’d argue David deserves it just for the scene where he tries to play George Costanza in the “Seinfeld” reunion special.

Will win: Baldwin seems to have a lock on the award until either “30 Rock” is canceled or he follows through on his various public promises to retire when his contract is up. But don’t count out Shalhoub, who already has three Emmys for this part, and who submitted the very emotional two-part “Monk” series finale. (Voters tend to be suckers both for extra-long submissions and comedy submissions where the actors get to be dramatic, or vice versa).

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Toni Collette, “United States of Tara” (SHO), Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie” (SHO), Tina Fey, “30 Rock” (NBC), Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (CBS), Lea Michele, “Glee” (FOX), Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation” (NBC)

Should win: “Parks and Recreation” went through an amazing creative transformation between its first and second seasons, going from a shaky “Office” clone to a distinct, warm and hilarious comedy that’s much better than most of the Outstanding Comedy Series nominees. Much of the credit for that transformation goes to Poehler, who dialed back her character’s enthusiasm from cartoonish to simply exaggerated and endearing, and who was more than happy to play point guard and set up her wonderful (and un-nominated) supporting cast. The lack of other major nominations for “Parks and Rec” suggests she doesn’t have a shot at winning, but she was great.

Will win:
Two-time winner Fey wisely submitted her one funny episode this season (the attempt to film a pilot episode for her talk show), but this looks like it’s going to come down to last year’s winner Collette versus her Emmy-approved Showtime partner Falco. Emmy voters love actors playing multiple roles, and Collette wisely submitted an episode where Tara rapidly shifts between her different personalities, but I have a feeling Falco is going to add a fourth Emmy to her mantle. Her role on “Nurse Jackie” is only sometimes comic, but as I said about Shalhoub, that can actually work to her advantage, and she’s so commanding – and so unlike Carmela Soprano – that she hides a whole lot of sins on that show.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Ty Burrell, “Modern Family” (ABC), Chris Colfer, “Glee” (FOX), Jon Cryer, “Two and a Half Men” (CBS), Jesse Tyler Ferguson, “Modern Family” (ABC), Neil Patrick Harris, “How I Met Your Mother” (CBS), Eric Stonestreet, “Modern Family” (ABC)

Should win: I don’t particularly love “Glee,” but even I can recognize just how good Colfer was this year as the vulnerable heart of that series. Still, I have to go with Stonestreet, whose unapologetically hammy Cam was far and away the funniest part of “Modern Family,” whether in or out of the clown makeup he wore as Fizbo.

Will win: The three “Modern Family” actors stand a very good chance of splitting the vote among fans of that show, so don’t be surprised if Cryer’s a repeat winner, or if the voters (who already handed him two trophies at last week’s Creative Arts Emmys) finally recognize that Harris has been great for years on “HIMYM.”

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series:
Julie Bowen, “Modern Family” (ABC), Jane Krakowski, “30 Rock” (NBC), Jane Lynch, “Glee” (FOX), Holland Taylor, “Two and a Half Men” (CBS), Sofia Vergara, “Modern Family” (ABC), Kristen Wiig, “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

Should and will win: Even if the “Modern Family” actresses weren’t competing with each other, they’d still likely have a hard time beating Lynch, whose ferocious and unapologetic performance made Sue Sylvester into the breakout character on the season’s breakout series. The only way Lynch doesn’t win is if voters aren’t impressed by her submitted episode (“The Power of Madonna”), which (like most of the “Glee” actor submissions) gives her a big musical number (the recreation of the “Vogue” video) but isn’t as strong a comic or dramatic showcase as some others she could have chosen. If she somehow falters, voters have demonstrated ample love for Taylor in the past.

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at sepinwall@hitfix.com

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