Magazine article Variety

Voters Mostly on Autopilot While Some Rookies Got Recognition, Old Faves Still Dominate the Major Categories

Magazine article Variety

Voters Mostly on Autopilot While Some Rookies Got Recognition, Old Faves Still Dominate the Major Categories

Article excerpt

At first glance, this year's Emmy noms may seem like a boon for new programs. A whopping five freshman shows are nominated for best drama series, projecting a considerable sense of freshness. But when you cast the spotlight over to the comedy side, it's difficult to shake a sense of stagnancy.

Granted, across the major categories (series, acting, directing, writing), more comedies were Emmy-nominated overall this year than dramas - 17 to 15. But FX's "Atlanta" (best series, lead actor, directing and writing) and "Better Things" (lead actress) were the only two new comedies recognized on July 13.

It seems as if every year the same question lurks going into nominations: How much will voters revert to standbys in the face of the ongoing peak TV glut? Among other things, the presence of ABC's "Modern Family" in the comedy series category suggests a level of autopilot may have kicked in. That's a shame, given such a vibrant field of contenders.

We're approaching the height of auteur-driven comedy in many ways, yet shows such as Phoebe WallerBridge's "Fleabag" (Amazon), with such a singular point of view, walked away empty-handed. So, too, did Issa Rae's "Insecure" (HBO) and Tig Notaro's "One Mississippi" (Amazon). Jill Soloway's "I Love Dick" (Amazon) may have been divisive, but Kathryn Hahn was a stand-out in a very competitive lead actress field and still failed to secure a nom. (She did, however, land a supporting notice for Soloway's "Transparent").

Sharon Horgan's "Catastrophe" (Amazon) barely managed to squeak in with a guest actress nomination for the late Carrie Fisher after landing a writing nomination last year. Meanwhile, Lena Dunham's "Girls" (HBO) closed out its run with one of its strongest seasons to date, yet could only muster love for guest actors Riz Ahmed and Matthew Rhys.

Then there are ongoing shows including Netflix's "Love" and FXX's "You're the Worst," which remain unsung underdogs seemingly destined to be ignored every season.

Drilling deeper into the nominations, it's clear rubber-stamping occurred. Matt Walsh was excellent and duly nominated for "Veep" last season, but this year his part was back-burnered, giving co-star Timothy Simons more room to shine. Yet Walsh passed on through. …

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