Emmy contenders in comedy categories blend old and new laughs

Emmy contenders in comedy categories blend old and new laughs
Amy Schumer has been dominating the cultural conversation with her sketch series "Inside Amy Schumer." (Ali Goldstein, Comedy Central)

"Modern Family" won its fifth straight comedy series Emmy last year, tying the record held by "Frasier." Can it break the record this year? A number of notable newcomers stand in the way. An early look at the Emmy comedy races:



"Modern Family"




"The Big Bang Theory"

"Silicon Valley"

"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"

Prime contenders: "Jane the Virgin," "The Comedians," "black-ish," "Parks and Recreation," "Girls"

Bubbling under: "Happyish," "Broad City," "Grace and Frankie," "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," "Episodes," "Shameless," "The Last Man on Earth," "Nurse Jackie," "Fresh Off the Boat," "Togetherness"

For your consideration: "Parks and Rec's" final season generated but a fraction of the fawning farewells accorded to "Mad Men" and David Letterman, but the series was just as groundbreaking in its weekly embrace of integrity, optimism and breakfast. "Parks'" last 10 episodes enhanced its legacy of sincere silliness, meaning it's now up to Emmy voters to send it out in a proper fashion.

Analysis: With the category expanding to seven nominees and "Orange Is the New Black" shifting (against Netflix's wishes) to drama, there's room for two new shows (or an old favorite, see above) and every reason to believe that the rest of last year's well-loved class ("Modern Family," "Veep," "Louie," "Silicon Valley" and "Big Bang") will return. It's hard to bet against Tina Fey and Robert Carlock's "Kimmy Schmidt," given voters' intense love for "30 Rock" over the years. And "Transparent" has ecstatic reviews and Jeffrey Tambor — a powerful combination.


Jeffrey Tambor, "Transparent"


Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory"

Louis C.K., "Louie"

Billy Crystal, "The Comedians"

William H. Macy, "Shameless"

Don Cheadle, "House of Lies"

Prime contenders: Will Forte, "The Last Man on Earth"; Matt LeBlanc, "Episodes"; Anthony Anderson, "black-ish"

Bubbling under: Thomas Middleditch, "Silicon Valley"; Andy Samberg, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"; Gael Garcia Bernal, "Mozart in the Jungle"; Ian McKellan, "Vicious"; Randall Park, "Fresh Off the Boat"

For your consideration: Forte had no fear on "Last Man," taking the show's premise to logical extremes and trusting the audience to follow. When the Grizzly Adams-style beard disappears into the scenery, you know the actor is on the right track.

Analysis: Tambor is an absolute lock (probably for the win too), and Crystal has built up plenty of goodwill to win a nod for his first-year show. Cheadle won nominations for each of his show's three eligible seasons, as has LeBlanc. Macy, meanwhile, broke through last year when "Shameless" jumped from drama to comedy. Likely, one of the three vets won't return, more if voters decide to reward Anderson for his fresh, inventive work as the patriarch on "black-ish."


Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"

Gina Rodriguez, "Jane the Virgin"

Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation"

Ellie Kemper, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"

Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"

Amy Schumer, "Inside Amy Schumer"

Prime contenders: Lily Tomlin, "Grace and Frankie"; Jane Fonda, "Grace and Frankie"; Lisa Kudrow, "The Comeback"

Bubbling under: Constance Wu, "Fresh Off the Boat"; Tracee Ellis Ross, "black-ish"; Lena Dunham, "Girls"; Anna Faris, "Mom"; Kristen Schaal, "The Last Man on Earth"

For your consideration: Schumer has dominated the cultural conversation in recent weeks with her brilliant, cutting comedy sketch series. Some voters might ding her for the show's format and limited run, but I'd guess most will be eager to break with tradition and salute her gutsy work. Space limitations constrict a full accounting of the highlights. Just start with her turn as Bill Cosby's defense attorney and work back from there.

Analysis: Poehler and Falco are leaving, but Television Academy members should bring them out for a curtain call. Elsewhere, it's a battle of veterans (Fonda, Tomlin, Kudrow) against relative newcomers (Rodriguez, Kemper, Schumer). I'm betting voters follow the better shows.


Tituss Burgess, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"

Andre Braugher, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

Ty Burrell, "Modern Family"

Tony Hale, "Veep"

Hugh Laurie, "Veep"

Eric Stonestreet, "Modern Family"

Prime contenders: Jesse Tyler Ferguson, "Modern Family"; Fred Armisen, "Portlandia"; Josh Gad, "The Comedians"; Sam Waterston, "Grace and Frankie"; Martin Sheen, "Grace and Frankie"

Bubbling under: Adam Driver, "Girls"; Ed O'Neill, "Modern Family"; Nick Offerman, "Parks and Recreation"; Terry Crews, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"; T.J. Miller, "Silicon Valley"; Jaime Camil, "Jane the Virgin"

For your consideration: On public service merit alone, Armisen deserves a nod for bringing awareness to early onset grumpiness. I no longer feel alone.

Analysis: With Emmy favorite Laurie on board, this might be the year "Veep" scores as many noms as "Modern Family." Stonestreet, Burrell and Hale have won in the past five years, but Burgess' outrageous work on "Kimmy" could well upend the category.


Allison Janney, "Mom"

Julie Bowen, "Modern Family"

Kate McKinnon, "Saturday Night Live"

Judith Light, "Transparent"

Anna Chlumsky, "Veep"

Mayim Bialik, "The Big Bang Theory"

Prime contenders: Jane Krakowski, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"; Carrie Brownstein, "Portlandia"; Merritt Wever, "Nurse Jackie; Sofia Vergara, "Modern Family"

Bubbling under: Betty White, "Hot in Cleveland"; Melanie Lynskey, "Togetherness"; Carol Kane, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"; Amanda Peet, "Togetherness"; Andrea Navedo, "Jane the Virgin"; Amy Landecker, "Transparent"

For your consideration: In terms of degree of difficulty, it's hard to beat Lynskey's work on "Togetherness," which evokes laughter, empathy and connection in equal balance. Oh, and she kills at kick the can.

Analysis: Look for stability to prevail here with all of last year's nominees (except for "Orange's" Kate Mulgrew, who has been moved to drama) returning. Light and Krakowski, both playing irresistible narcissists, are the leading candidates to join them.