On a related note, September's going to be a sort-of informal television month here at the blog. In addition to the Emmys, I'm also working on reviews of the most recent seasons of Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Louie, Marvel's Daredevil, Hannibal, Orange is the New Black, Girls, Veep, and possibly a few more. There will be some non-television-related material as well, including the first edition of way-too-early Oscar predictions in toward the end of the month, but television will likely dominate the output for the next few weeks.
BEST COMEDY SERIES
Parks & Recreation
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Biggest surprise: For the first time in four years, The Big Bang Theory is missing from the lineup. This is significant because not only does it hint that the show's position in the Television Academy's favor is waning (more on that later), but it's only the second time in the category's history in which no multi-camera ("traditional") sitcoms have been nominated. It could be read as definitive proof that current tastes have no room for the multi-cam format, but at the very least it highlights just how dominant the single-camera format has become.
Most notable exclusion: Aside from the aforementioned The Big Bang Theory, the biggest high-profile snub is probably The Last Man on Earth. The show is only in its first season, yet it sported a high-concept premise - Will Forte's Phil Miller believes he's the only person left alive after some cataclysmic event has wiped out the Earth's population - that seemed better suited for an action-oriented show or nihilistic drama than comedy. The show performed very well with critics and audiences, and even won over Emmy voters, as it has earned four nominations. It probably finished just outside the final seven. Also of note: Jane the Virgin, which was cleared to compete in this category despite being an hour long and was perhaps the most critically-beloved new show of the season.
Who's likely to win? It looks like the consensus is gravitating towards Veep, which wrapped a stellar fourth season with Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Selina Meyer navigating the even-more-thankless role of President of the United States. And, in all honesty, it will likely come down to it and Modern Family, which is looking for an unprecedented sixth win in this category.
But watch out for... Transparent and Parks & Recreation. In the case of the former, it's one of the best-reviewed shows of the year, and given the visibility of transgender identity thanks to Caitlyn Jenner, it would be a very timely selection as well. As for the latter, it's not typical of the Emmys to hand out series prizes for final seasons, but if they wanted to recognize the series' seven years of excellence, it's now or never.
Best Direction of a Comedy Series and Best Writing of a Comedy Series after the jump.
BEST DIRECTION OF A COMEDY SERIES
The Last Man on Earth, "Alive in Tucson (Pilot);" directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Louie, "Sleepover;" directed by Louis C.K.
Silicon Valley, "Sand Hill Shuffle;" directed by Mike Judge
Transparent, "Best New Girl;" directed by Jill Soloway
Veep, "Testimony;" directed by Armando Ianucci
Biggest surprise: Honestly, none of these are too surprising. I suppose Ianucci's nomination might be a bit unexpected, since Veep has never garnered any nominations in this category before. But even his nomination is worthy and makes sense.
Most notable exclusion: After four consecutive victories in this category (and for the first time in the show's run), no director from Modern Family was nominated this year.
Who's likely to win? As I noted above, this category is wide-open. C.K. has yet to honored in this category, and given the reception that the show has received in terms of his direction, it may finally be his time to win here.
But watch out for... Soloway and Lord and Miller. There's a good chance that the Academy could go all-in on Transparent, but even if they don't, there's still a pretty solid chance that they could recognize Soloway for her efforts to bring this story to the screen. As for Lord and Miller, they helped craft one of the strangest, most unique pilots in recent memory, and that alone could land them the statuette.
BEST WRITING OF A COMEDY SERIES
Episodes, "Episode 409;" written by David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik
The Last Man on Earth, "Alive in Tucson (Pilot);" written by Will Forte
Louie, "Bobby's House;" written by Louis C.K.
Silicon Valley, "Two Days of the Condor;" written by Alec Berg
Transparent, "Pilot;" written by Jill Soloway
Veep, "Election Night;" story by Armando Ianucci, story and teleplay by Simon Blackwell and Tony Roche
The Last Man on Earth
Biggest surprise: Aside from the aforementioned Episodes fetish, it's pleasantly surprising that Forte was nominated for his inventive script for The Last Man on Earth pilot. It's not often that a script this original comes along, and it's a nice vote of confidence in his post-Saturday Night Live career.
Most notable exclusion: Given that pilots and finales tend to do well in the writing categories, it is surprising that Jane the Virgin and Parks & Recreation failed to be nominated for those, respectively. The former came out of the gates with a fully-formed voice, while the latter perfectly wrapped up the series in a way that felt right for every character.
Who's likely to win? Aside from Best Actor in a Comedy Series, this feels like the most likely place that Transparent will be rewarded. Pilots tend to do very well in this category in terms of wins, and given the show's cultural relevance at the moment, it feels like a shoo-in for the win.
But watch out for... C.K. Louie already has two wins in this category, so it's clear that the writers love his work. He's a perennial threat here, and he could walk away with win number-three this year.