Perhaps the Television Academy members have been paying close attention to TV critics and their reviews after all. This year’s comedy series category could have been crafted by members of the Television Critics Assn., given a few pleasant surprises among the nominees. And perhaps they were, because the nods are identical to what the TCA Awards nominated for its comedy race: “Barry,” “Fleabag,” “The Good Place,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Russian Doll,” “Schitt’s Creek” and “Veep.” The TCA was ahead of the game with “The Good Place,” which won in 2018; while this year, “Fleabag” was the big winner, taking the top TCA prizes for comedy, program of the year and individual achievement in comedy (for creator-star Phoebe Waller-Bridge). Emmy voters aren’t expected to be that adventurous, though, as the comedy series battle likely comes down to two previous category winners.
The Case for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
While “Veep” took a hiatus last year, it was serendipitous for Amazon Prime Video’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and Rachel Brosnahan. They both landed well-deserved Emmys for comedy series and lead comedy actress. A year later, voters have expanded their appreciation of the incumbent comedy series winner by handing it even more noms — 20, up from 14 in 2018. It was an ambitious year — including that run in the Catskills — and not only is the show once again a leading contender here, but Brosnahan is also nominated, and virtually every other major “Mrs. Maisel” performer has landed a nod, including Alex Borstein and Marin Hinkle (both up for supporting comedy actress), Tony Shalhoub (supporting comedy actor), Jane Lynch (guest comedy actress) and Luke Kirby and Rufus Sewell (guest comedy actor). Also, in a bit of a unique circumstance, married executive producers Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino are both nominated, separately, in the comedy directing category. Throw in an aggressive For Your Consideration campaign by Amazon Studios, which decked out L.A.-area Whole Foods stores in “Mrs. Maisel” pink marketing materials, and garnered a ton of media attention for its “Maisel Day” (in which businesses around Los Angeles offered discounted “1959 prices,” like 30 cent gas), and it’s clear the streamer — and the show — are hungry to repeat last year’s big win.
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The Case for “Veep”
HBO’s “Veep” has been beloved by TV Academy voters from the very beginning, nominated for comedy series every year it’s been eligible since premiering in 2012 and rewarded with the Emmy in 2015, 2016 and 2017. In 2018, the show took a break while star Julia Louis-Dreyfus underwent treatment for breast cancer. That break was the only reason the streak was put on hold. Louis-Dreyfus has won the lead comedy actress Emmy six times — the most ever for a performer in the same role on the same show. She triumphantly returned for the show’s final season, and is now also the frontrunner for the lead comedy actress Emmy. Although there was some debate over how to tackle political satire in the Trump era, the “Veep” finale wrapped up Selina Meyer’s storyline in a way that was true to the series — and even included several callbacks to its very first episode. “Veep” is one of those rare shows that managed to remain a consistent awards draw throughout its run, and that will likely continue to the end.