The Emmys’ Best Comedy Series Race Is Actually Competitive This Year

It has been a long time since the winner of Primetime Emmy Award’s Best Comedy Series has been in any real question. Last year, no one even needed to read the card that proclaimed Ted Lasso the winner. It was all but preordained. The year before that, no one was betting against Schitt’s Creek‘s swan song. This year is a little different.

Every nominated show has its own kind of hype, though a couple can likely be ruled out as real contenders. The Marvelous Mrs. maizel already had its day in the Sun at the Emmys when it won seven, including two Creative Arts Emmys, in 2018. Then there’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, the perennial bridesmaid of the Emmys. Nominated for every season, but unlike Susan Lucci before it, curb is unlikely to take home the big prize, especially considering the more buzzy shows in the nominations lineup. That still leaves six real contenders for the trophy.

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Ted Lasso is once again the front runner, but this time around it is not a slam dunk. Abbott Elementary currently has the best shot at upsetting the favorite. Nominated for 6 trophies, including one Creative Arts Emmy nod, Abbott Elementary is a unicorn for the business. It’s a broadcast sitcom that does well with audiences and critics alike and checks off a lot of boxes that the industry as a whole is desperate to address regarding diversity and representation. More than that, it’s not just a token, as people actually like it and watch it. A mostly Black, female-led broadcast sitcom with goodwill all around and solid ratings cannot be underestimated at awards time in today’s cultural climate.

The next tier of challengers belongs to hacks and Only Murders in the Building. Only Murders garnered four Primetime nods and a whopping 10 Creative Arts nods. hacks fared even better with six Primetime and seven Creative Arts nominations. Both of these shows could play spoiler to the front runners. Both series hold 100% critics scores on Rotten Tomatoes and solid audience scores as well.

Industry folks love hacks because it is a show about the business, and it showcases two actors at opposite ends of their careers: television and film stalwart Jean Smart and relative newcomer Hannah Einbinder. The veteran and the rookie making beautiful music together is the stuff of fuzzy, feel-good stories. That also applies to Only Murders, which features beloved comedy legends Steve Martin and Martin Short, as well as millennial icon Selena Gomez. The main thing Only Murders has going against it would be that it aired nearly a year ago; a new season may be airing now, but it is being judged on the first. Still, the amity felt towards the show and the main trio of the cast cannot be ignored, and that — among other factors — makes it a legitimate contender.

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Then there are the dark horses. Barry is well-loved and certainly one of those shows that people in the industry watch and enjoy immensely. It cannot be understated how much everyone in show business loves Henry Winkler. He’s notoriously the nicest guy in Hollywood. There’s also plenty of love for Bill Hader and his transformation from an all-time Saturday Night Live great to a dramatic actor. That dramatic flair may be what Barry has going against it this year. Season 3 was fantastic, but it was less a comedy and more a dark drama simmering over with tension and angst. Not quite the laugh fest of previous seasons.

What We Do in the Shadows wasn’t even supposed to get nominated this year, what with the buzzy and critically championed Reservation Dogs and the return of Atlanta in the mix, not to mention the final season of Pamela Adlon’s critical darling, better things. But it did get nominated. The show has been steadily improving and has quietly become a favorite among many. It may not have the water cooler buzz of other shows, but in living rooms, everyone is wondering just what is happening with Colin Robinson while enjoying what has been a solidly fun and silly show. Vegas odds may be on Ted Lassobut the competition is stiff, and odds are subject to change.

The 74th Primetime Emmy Awards Ceremony Airs Sept. 12, 2022 on NBC.

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