Emmys 2021: Why ‘Ted Lasso’ will sweep the comedy races

The Four Percent


“Schitt’s Creek” made history last year, winning every comedy Emmy handed out during the prime-time broadcast. The drumbeat of acclaim eventually became so insistent that the show’s co-creator Dan Levy felt the need to apologize after winning his third Emmy of the evening. “The internet’s about to turn on me. I’m so sorry!” Levy said.

That revolt didn’t happen, of course, because who didn’t love the gentle comedy of the silly and sweet “Schitt’s Creek”? It probably didn’t deserve every one of the Emmys it won last year, but the show consistently made us smile, and that counted for a lot in 2020.

And fortunately, just as we were waving goodbye to the Rose family, another aggressively nice comedy came along to warm our hearts. And although “Ted Lasso” likely won’t repeat the “Schitt’s Creek” lovefest this year at the Emmys — how could it? — the moving series figures to dominate this year’s ceremony. Break out your dress hoodie, Jason Sudeikis. You’re going to need it.

COMEDY SERIES

“Ted Lasso”
“The Flight Attendant”
“Hacks”
“PEN15″
“Girls5eva”
“Master of None”
“black-ish”
“The Kominsky Method”

Next up: “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” “Cobra Kai,” “Dickinson,” “Kenan,” “Made for Love”

Small-batch comedies have dominated at the Emmys for years, and now we’re moving into a true artisanal realm with “The Kominsky Method” returning with a final season of just six episodes and “Master of None” delivering a mere five in its latest offering. This third season of “Master of None” is not a comedy in any sense, playing out like Ingmar Bergman’s “Scenes From a Marriage,” with Lena Waithe taking center stage. Criterion Channel subscribers should love it. How Emmy voters will respond is more iffy.

Unlike the drama series race, there are plenty of options here, including the excellent adolescent angst of “PEN15,” Hulu’s standout comedy, and “Hacks,” the Jean Smart showcase that expertly mines generational conflict and the sexism women face in show business. And it might not be a bad time to bring “black-ish” back to the fold, as there should be a place at the Emmys for a network comedy still grinding out 20-plus episodes a season with care and thoughtfulness.

Jean Smart prepares to go onstage in a scene from "Hacks."

Jean Smart stars as an aging stand-up comedian in “Hacks.”

(Jake Giles Netter/HBO)

COMEDY ACTRESS

Jean Smart, “Hacks”
Kaley Cuoco, “The Flight Attendant”
Renée Elise Goldsberry, “Girls5eva”
Tracee Ellis Ross, “black-ish”
Jane Levy, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”
Lena Waithe, “Master of None”

Next up: Allison Janney, “Mom”; Maya Erskine, “PEN15″; Cristin Milioti, “Made for Love”; Hailee Steinfeld, “Dickinson”; Anna Konkle, “PEN15″; Robin Thede, “A Black Lady Sketch Show”

There are a lot of solid choices for voters here. I mentioned Smart, who will likely also be nominated for the way she injected dark humor into “Mare of Easttown.” (She should have won an Emmy last year for “Watchmen.”) Then there’s Cuoco, who, much like Jennifer Aniston did with “The Morning Show,” demonstrated what she could do with strong material. And there’s Goldsberry, the breakout star of “Girls5eva” — the Peacock comedy series about the inspirational, delusional reunion of a one-hit Spice Girls-y group. If you only know her from playing Angelica in the original Broadway cast of “Hamilton,” you’re in for a surprise. She’s amazing.

William Zabka gets stern with mohawked Jacob Bertrand in "Cobra Kai."

William Zabka reprises his Johnny Lawrence character from “The Karate Kid” in the spinoff series “Cobra Kai.” Here with Jacob Bertrand.

(COURTESY OF NETFLIX/COURTESY OF NETFLIX)

COMEDY ACTOR

Jason Sudeikis, “Ted Lasso”
Michael Douglas, “The Kominsky Method”
Anthony Anderson, “black-ish”
Kenan Thompson, “Kenan”
Ted Danson, “Mr. Mayor”
William Zabka, “Cobra Kai”

Next up: Ralph Macchio, “Cobra Kai”; William H. Macy, “Shameless”; Michael Cimino, “Love, Victor”; Alan Tudyk, “Resident Alien”

It took “Schitt’s Creek” five seasons to earn its first Emmy nomination — and look what happened, thanks in part to viewers (and voters) discovering the series after it began airing on Netflix. “Cobra Kai” also found success on Netflix, after languishing on YouTube Red (now YouTube Premium) for two seasons. Macchio has the bigger profile, but Zabka’s cranky, lovable loser steals the show. Maybe there’s room for both?

The reunited group sings in a recording studio in a scene from "Girls5eva."

Paula Pell, Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Busy Philipps play the reunited singing group Girls5eva.

(Heidi Gutman/Peacock)

COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Hannah Waddingham, “Ted Lasso”
Rosie Perez, “The Flight Attendant”
Juno Temple, “Ted Lasso”
Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”
Maya Rudolph, “Saturday Night Live”
Kathleen Turner, “The Kominsky Method”
Paula Pell, “Girls5eva”
Zosia Mamet, “The Flight Attendant”

Next up: Michelle Gomez, “The Flight Attendant”; Aidy Bryant, “Saturday Night Live”; Cecily Strong, “Saturday Night Live”; Hannah Einbinder, “Hacks”; Holly Hunter, “Mr. Mayor”; Wanda Sykes, “The Upshaws”; Lecy Goranson, “The Conners”; Laurie Metcalf, “The Conners”; Naomi Ackie, “Master of None”

Two “Saturday Night Live” actors should be the cap. There are other shows, better shows, and one of them, the aforementioned “Girls5eva,” features Pell, who wrote for “Saturday Night Live” for nearly 20 years. That should be a star on her resume for voters, as should be her glorious turn as the lonely, divorced lesbian dentist relishing her shot at another 15 minutes of fame.

Ray Romano with a special friend in "Made for Love."

Ray Romano with a special friend in “Made for Love.”

(John P. Johnson / HBO Max
)

COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTOR

Brett Goldstein, “Ted Lasso”
Kenan Thompson, “Saturday Night Live”
Michiel Huisman, “The Flight Attendant”
Bowen Yang, “Saturday Night Live”
Brendan Hunt, “Ted Lasso”
Alex Newell, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”
Ray Romano, “Made for Love”
Nick Mohammed, “Ted Lasso”

Next up: T.R. Knight, “The Flight Attendant”; Laurence Fishburne, “black-ish”; Paul Reiser, “The Kominsky Method”; Jeremy Swift, “Ted Lasso”; Nico Santos, “Superstore”; Pete Davidson, “Saturday Night Live”

The HBO social satire “Made for Love” hasn’t quite caught on, but that might not be a problem for the talented Romano, who picked up 16 Emmy nominations for writing, producing and acting in “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Reiser, another past Emmy favorite (10 nods for “Mad About You”), could return as well, playing a paunchy, ponytailed retired teacher in “The Kominsky Method.” But this category will mainly be filled out by the men of “Ted Lasso,” with the biggest question being how many members of that show’s locker room will make it in. For now, let’s put the over/under at three.



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