The Gold Standard: Emmy chances for comedy shows and stars

“Modern Family” has won the comedy series Emmy for each of its three seasons. Other shows that have gone the three-peat route — “30 Rock,” “Taxi,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “All in the Family” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show” — were denied a fourth straight Emmy. (“Frasier,” with five in a row, is the only exception.) Are voters ready to cut their “Family” ties? A look at this year’s Emmy comedy races:


“Modern Family” (ABC)

“The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)

“30 Rock” (NBC)

“Veep” (HBO)

“Girls” (HBO)

“Louie” (FX)



Prime contenders: “Arrested Development” (Netflix), “Parks and Recreation” (NBC)

Bubbling under: “New Girl” (Fox), “House of Lies” (Showtime), “The Office” (NBC), “How I Met Your Mother” (CBS), “Two and a Half Men” (CBS), “The Mindy Project” (Fox), “Nurse Jackie” (Showtime)

“Louie”—The Gold Standard column in the June 6 Envelope issue said the Louis C.K. show “Louie” airs on HBO. The comedy appears on the FX channel.

For your consideration: “Arrested Development.” The resurrected cult comedy dropped all 15 of its new episodes Memorial Day weekend. You didn’t watch them all at once, did you? Hopefully not. Creator Mitch Hurwitz layered in so many genius comic bits and character beats into this new chapter that it’s best savored over time. Let’s just say family myopia has rarely been delivered so fully — or funnily.

Analysis: “Modern Family” has won for each of its three seasons, and now probably isn’t the time to start betting against it. Dethroning it will take a bloc of voters uniting behind one show, and since people who love “Louie” also probably like “Girls” and “Veep” and “Arrested Development,” finding such a show might prove problematic. For the contenders, winning a nomination in this particularly strong field will be a victory in itself.

TIMELINE: Emmy winners through the years


Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”

Louis C.K., “Louie”

Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”

Don Cheadle, “House of Lies”

Jason Bateman, “Arrested Development”

Jon Cryer, “Two and a Half Men”

Prime contenders: Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes”; Johnny Galecki, “The Big Bang Theory”

Bubbling under: Jake Johnson, “New Girl”; Neil Flynn, “The Middle”; Ashton Kutcher, “Two and a Half Men”; Josh Radnor, “How I Met Your Mother”; Matthew Morrison, “Glee”; Joel McHale, “Community”; Lucas Neff, “Raising Hope”

For your consideration: Neil Flynn, “The Middle.” Flynn’s family comedy doesn’t win the accolades or ratings of that other ABC Wednesday night comedy, but it’s just as good in mining humor from family dynamics. Flynn may be a man of few words as the no-nonsense dad, but he makes each and every word count, providing the family — and the show — a solid center. The man’s a master at pep talks too.

Analysis: Cryer, last year’s unexpected winner, might not even be nominated. Or maybe we’re just underestimating his chances — again — and he’ll win back-to-back Emmys. C.K. would seem to be the man of the hour, though there could be some sentiment to send two-time winner Baldwin out on a high note.

WATCH: The Envelope Emmy Roundtable | Comedy


Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”

Lena Dunham, “Girls”

Tina Fey, “30 Rock”

Zooey Deschanel, “New Girl”

Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”

Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”

Prime contenders: Laura Dern, “Enlightened”; Melissa McCarthy, “Mike and Molly”; Mindy Kaling, “The Mindy Project”

Bubbling under: Patricia Heaton, “The Middle”; Martha Plimpton, “Raising Hope”; Courteney Cox, “Cougar Town”; Lea Michele, “Glee”

For your consideration: Laura Dern, “Enlightened.” Her show has been canceled. And (ridiculously) she wasn’t nominated last year. But Dern’s intricate performance as a woman on a mission to be an “agent of change” was a complete and utter marvel, the best work in a pretty great career. It won’t be forgotten, and it’d be nice if Emmy voters made a statement for ambition and excellence, nominating her here.

Analysis: Thanks to a tie, there were seven nominees last year. Without any slam-dunk newcomers (Kaling has an outside shot, at best), six of the seven should return, with the last spot likely coming down to a choice between Falco or McCarthy.

THE ENVELOPE: The awards insider


Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”

Eric Stonestreet, “Modern Family”

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, “Modern Family”

Ed O’Neil, “Modern Family”

Adam Driver, “Girls”

Max Greenfield, “New Girl”

Prime contenders: Jeffrey Tambor, “Arrested Development”; Will Arnett, “Arrested Development”; Bill Hader, “Saturday Night Live”; Alex Karpovsky, “Girls”; David Cross, “Arrested Development”; Nick Offerman, “Parks and Recreation”

Bubbling under: Jason Sudeikis, “Saturday Night Live”; Rainn Wilson, “The Office”; Chris Colfer, “Glee”; Neil Patrick Harris, “How I Met Your Mother”; Simon Helberg, “The Big Bang Theory”; Aziz Ansari, “Parks and Recreation”; Chris Pratt, “Parks and Recreation”; Matt Walsh, “Veep”

For your consideration: Adam Driver, “Girls.” You saw “On All Fours,” right? That Driver could do that and still make you feel something for the character is a testament to his talent.

Analysis: This could (and should) be the year when voters end the “Modern Family” blockade in this category. The arrival of “Arrested Development’s” cast might provide the necessary means, though they’re far from the only worthy alternatives. It’ll likely come down to how many voters decide to reunite with the Bluth family and whether enough think there’s room for the guys on “Girls.”


Julie Bowen, “Modern Family”

Sofia Vergara, “Modern Family”

Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory”

Jessica Walter, “Arrested Development”

Jane Krakowski, “30 Rock”

Allison Williams, “Girls”

Prime contenders: Portia de Rossi, “Arrested Development”; Betty White, “Hot in Cleveland”; Merritt Wever, “Nurse Jackie”

Bubbling under: Ellen Barkin, “The New Normal”; Jenna Fischer, “The Office”; Diane Ladd, “Enlightened”; Cloris Leachman, “Raising Hope”; Jane Lynch, “Glee”; Anna Chlumsky, “Veep”; Kaley Cuoco, “The Big Bang Theory”; Rashida Jones, “Parks and Recreation”; Aubrey Plaza, “Parks and Recreation”; Eden Sher, “The Middle”; Jemima Kirke, “Girls”; Zosia Mamet, “Girls”

For your consideration: Anna Chlumsky, “Veep.” Her scenes with her family have been among the season’s funniest. With Louis-Dreyfus winning an Emmy last year, castmate Chlumsky should be next in line.

Analysis: Bowen, Vergara and Bialik should all return as nominees. After that, it’s wide open, with the “Arrested Development” and “Girls” ensembles poised as contenders and three-time nominee Krakowski, absent last year, deserving a final curtain call.