Glenn Whipp has an idea.
When Emmy voters find something they like, they’re apt to return to the well again and again until (finally!) a new series or performance is so good that it jolts them out of their lethargy. This year, FX’s “Atlanta” should provide that thunderbolt.
The Emmy comedy categories sport a number of streaks. “Veep” has won series honors two years running. Prior to that, “Modern Family” had a five-year reign. Jeffrey Tambor has won back-to-back honors for his beautiful lead turn on “Transparent.” Julia Louis-Dreyfus has taken the lead actress Emmy for all five of “Veep’s” brilliant, barbed seasons.
And here’s the thing: “Veep” hasn’t lost a step in its current run of episodes. If anyone was worried how the show would do after Selina’s exit from the White House, those concerns have been put to rest in a season that (so far, at least) has more than maintained the show’s signature cynical, irreverent excellence. As for “Transparent,” its third season contained many astoundingly good moments from Tambor and, especially, costar Judith Light. So bravo one and all. But “Atlanta” should still sweep this year’s Emmys. Donald Glover’s series took the observational, auteur-driven comedy that FX has nurtured in such shows as “Louie,” “Baskets” and “Better Things” and succeeded, by all accounts, in fulfilling Glover’s stated claim — to “show people what it feels like to be black.” “Atlanta’s” 10 episodes shift between seriousness and slapstick, examining issues like identity and appropriation with an immediacy and intelligence that made it unlike anything else on television. And its lead quartet of actors — Glover, Zazie Beetz, Lakeith Stanfield, Brian Tyree Henry — might be the best group working in TV today.
What other programs and performances might break through this year? Here’s a look at how the Emmy nominations could shake out in the comedy categories.
Donald Glover’s comedy series is unlike anything else on television.
year will probably return, with “Atlanta” pushing out either “Modern Family’s” eighth season (all good things must come to an end) or “Kimmy Schmidt.” In a perfect world, both would make room for any one of the series listed among the prime contenders, including “Girls,” which offered some very funny episodes in its last season, even if it didn’t quite stick the landing in its finale. The problem for most of these contenders is one of viewership. Do enough voters know them to push them across the finish line? Fingers crossed.
DONALD GLOVER’S series, “Atlanta,” shifts between seriousness and slapstick with a lead quartet of actors who may be the best group working in TV today.