All the Emmy drama this year is on the comedy side. We know the “Game of Thrones” cast will be taking the stage to end the evening. Will “Veep” likewise go out in style? Here’s an early set of Emmy predictions for competitive comedy races.
“The Good Place”
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Analysis: “Veep” is back for its final season but returns to a changed landscape. “Maisel” won in 2018 and earned 20 nominations this year, the most of any comedy series. “Barry” won acting Emmys last year for co-creator Bill Hader and Henry Winkler and has only solidified its status among voters, pulling down 17 noms. Comparatively, “Veep” earned a paltry nine, two fewer than Phoebe Waller-Bridges’ thrillingly perfect “Fleabag.”
Any one of these four shows could win the Emmy. “Barry” and “Fleabag” rank highest on merit and daring. “Veep” has won three times and could have a touch of sentiment on its side, though it’s not exactly a show that engenders the warm fuzzies. “Maisel,” meanwhile, has the broadest appeal, probably making it the safest bet.
Emmy voters have been streaky with this series category. “30 Rock” took the honor in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and then passed the baton to “Modern Family,” which prevailed for five straight years. “Veep” then took over, winning its first series Emmy in 2014, repeating twice and then took a year off so star Julia Louis-Dreyfus could undergo cancer treatment. “Maisel” won in its stead.
Can “Maisel” now go on a run? Possibly. It’s a pleasant, entertaining show. I picked against it last year, believing voters would reward “Atlanta” for its sometimes shocking and surrealistic second season. I was wrong. This year, I’m going with “Barry,” a show that, like “Atlanta,” often embraces the absurd in pursuit of a delicate balance between darkness and light. And, yes, I’m prepared to tip a top hat to “Maisel” maestro Amy Sherman-Palladino again.
LEAD ACTRESS COMEDY
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”
Analysis: I don’t need to tell you that Louis-Dreyfus has won a few Emmys. (Eleven, to be precise.) She has prevailed for all six seasons of “Veep.” She’s eligible for the show’s final season after a yearlong hiatus spent treating her breast cancer. Take it to the bank: She’s going to win again.
Waller-Bridge, with her exquisite comic timing and ace ability to convey grief and brokenness, is equally deserving. And it’s not like last year’s winner, Brosnahan, was any less good on the show’s second season. I’m sure both will be happy to applaud for Louis-Dreyfus when the envelope is opened.
LEAD ACTOR COMEDY
Anthony Anderson, “black-ish”
Don Cheadle, “Black Monday”
Ted Danson, “The Good Place”
Michael Douglas, “The Kominsky Method”
Bill Hader, “Barry”
Eugene Levy, “Schitt’s Creek”
Analysis: There isn’t a better pairing of actors on a television comedy this year than Douglas and his co-star Alan Arkin on “The Kominsky Method.” Watching Douglas, playing an actor forced by the industry and his own choices into making a living as an acting coach, deal with the indignities of aging was an absolute delight. I figured that after taking the Golden Globe in January, he’d win this Emmy … until voters passed on nominating the series itself.
Actors can win this prize without a series nomination. Jon Cryer did it seven years ago for “Two and a Half Men,” coincidentally another Chuck Lorre series. But Douglas and Arkin earning the show’s only Emmy nominations doesn’t bode well, particularly since Hader’s “Barry” busted out with voters in its second season. Hader will repeat.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS COMEDY
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”
Analysis: This was another Emmy that “Maisel” won last year. And it’s probably the prize it might well win again, though the nomination of Hinkle (her first) adds a wrinkle. “Fleabag” sports two nominees as well, but I think voters might lean toward Colman, spectacular again as the heroine’s insufferable stepmother. After Colman’s delightful Oscar acceptance speech for “The Favourite,” who wouldn’t enjoy a repeat performance at the Emmys?
SUPPORTING ACTOR COMEDY
Alan Arkin, “The Kominsky Method”
Anthony Carrigan, “Barry”
Tony Hale, “Veep”
Stephen Root, “Barry”
Tony Shalhoub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Henry Winkler, “Barry”
Analysis: Good news for “Barry” fans: There have been four times in Emmy history when a supporting comedy nominee has bested two castmates. Cynthia Nixon won over fellow “Sex and the City” contenders Kim Cattrall and Kristin Davis in 2004. Kate McKinnon won for “Saturday Night Live” two years ago against Vanessa Bayer and Leslie Jones. And Eric Stonestreet prevailed for “Modern Family” twice over Ty Burrell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
That said, since each of the “Barry” nominees — Root, Carrigan and last year’s winner, Winkler – offer compelling cases for support, it’s likely the vote will be scattered. That could be good news for Arkin, a deserving winner, as I mentioned earlier. But with Shalhoub, a three-time winner from 10 nominations, waiting in the wings, we might be hearing the orchestra playing that annoying “Maisel” theme yet again.