• James Kunovski

2019 Emmys: Thoughts on Comedy

Plenty of love for streaming services, seconds seasons, and familiar winners, plus stacked competition. Here’s a look at the comedy categories.


Comedy Series

Barry

Fleabag

The Good Place

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Russian Doll

Schitt's Creek

Veep



Will Win: Veep

Should Win: Fleabag

Glaring Omission: One Day at a Time



Two previous winners are re-entering the game. Veep and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I have always sung Veep’s praises, but this season, save the finale, was one of the show’s weaker instalments. It could have also dropped off voters’ radars during its lengthy hiatus, despite winning three times prior. Maisel won last year for its brilliant first season. I’m not too sure if it will win again. If voters are looking for a change they may turn to Fleabag, which would be a deserved win.


 

Lead Actor

Anthony Anderson, Black-ish

Bill Hader, Barry

Don Cheadle, Black Monday

Ted Danson, The Good Place

Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method

Eugene Levy, Schitt's Creek



Will Win: Bill Hader, Barry

Should Win: Bill Hader, Barry

Glaring Omission: Jim Carrey, Kidding



Hader won last year, and this category loves to reward previous winners. Add to that, the extra depth he brings to the darker sophomore affair, and although his performance leans more dramatic, its bearing outshines its company.


 

Lead Actress

Christina Applegate, Dead to Me

Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll

Catherine O'Hara, Schitt's Creek

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag



Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Should Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Glaring Omission: Pamela Adlon, Better Things



I don’t envy the Emmy voters here. A win for JLD would be a record, and her submission episode (the finale), is once again phenomenal and displays her open range. Her final scene is heartbreaking. It is the type of performance that would warrant anyone else an Emmy too. The other performers vying for the top place include Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Rachel Brosnahan. Waller-Bridge has the power of Fleabag behind her, and Brosnahan a previous win.



 

Supporting Actor

Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method

Anthony Carrigan, Barry

Tony Hale, Veep

Stephen Root, Barry

Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Henry Winkler, Barry



Will Win: Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Should Win: Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Glaring Omission: Andrew Scott, Fleabag



It’s great to see the company of Barry noticed and it’s surprising that the Hot Priest from Fleabag was snubbed. On the other hand, Tony Shalhoub is infectious in Maisel. He commands the scene with a brand of neurosis and transfixing wit. He also has the goodwill of a generous script helping him to a win.


 

Supporting Actress

Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Anna Chlumsky, Veep

Sian Clifford, Fleabag

Olivia Colman, Fleabag

Betty Gilpin, GLOW

Sarah Goldberg, Barry

Marin Hinkle, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live



Will Win: Olivia Colman, Fleabag

Should Win: Olivia Colman, Fleabag

Glaring Omission: D’Arcy Carden, The Good Place



Once again, stacked. Even with eight nominees, some worthy players don’t make the cut. Olivia Colman has a fighting chance here. Not only is the industry on a bit of Colman-fever right now, but her biting and seriously hilarious portrayal of the Godmother is an instant classic of a performance. I would also love to see Anna Chlumsky win in her final year of eligibility and Sarah Goldberg who brought her character’s complexities to a truly human level.



 

Directing

Barry, The Audition

Barry, ronny/lily

The Big Bang Theory, The Stockholm Syndrome

Fleabag, Episode 1

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, All Alone

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, We're Going to the Catskills!



Will Win: Fleabag, Episode 1

Should Win: Barry, ronny/lily

Glaring Omission: Russian Doll, Ariadne



Fleabag will win as director Harry Bradbeer did a fine job moulding the characters and script around a somewhat frantic flair which included those beautiful fourth-wall interactions. On another note, ronny/lily, from Barry, is one of the best episodes of television in recent memory and you would think that sentiment should be echoed with an award win. Bill Hader’s balancing act of martial arts, classic film influences, dream sequences and physical comedy is a feat. Ronny/lily’s disadvantage: it is not really a comedic episode. Voters still love to reward traditional comedy in this field. See Atlanta’s Teddy Perkins.


 

Writing

Barry, ronny/lily

Fleabag, Episode 1

The Good Place, Janet(s)

PEN15, Anna Ishii-Peters

Russian Doll, Nothing in This World Is Easy

Russian Doll, A Warm Body

Veep, Veep



Will Win: Fleabag, Episode 1

Should Win: Fleabag, Episode 1

Glaring Omission: Ramy, Between The Toes



It’s serendipitous to end with this category. The initial step of this process. We are in a truly unique time of comedy. Have a look at the nominees. We have mockumentaries, oddballs and satire. Phoebe Waller-Bridge for Fleabag is a lock-in. Her writing is polished and subversive. From a writing standpoint, the screenplay is a joy to read. The intervals are short, leaving enough space for the words to flow. Her accounts of place are short; characters succinct. With a script like this, where could Fleabag have gone wrong.