2020 Emmy Picks: Comedy and Variety

With virtually all FYC events canceled and almost all productions halted, voters theoretically have had a lot more time to see more shows. And with new rules regarding the number of nominees in each category (which I still don’t fully understand), there’s the possibility of newcomers and frequently overlooked performers will finally get the attention they deserve. So here’s what I think will be nominated this year.

The cast of Schitt's Creek
black-ish (ABC)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
Dead to Me (Netflix)
The Good Place (NBC)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Prime)
Schitt’s Creek (Pop)
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Space Force (Netflix)

Potential surprises:
Avenue 5 (HBO) – new show
GLOW (Netflix) – 1 nomination
Modern Family (ABC) – 8 nominations including 5 wins
The Righteous Gemstones (HBO) – new show
RUN (HBO) – new show

Ineligible: Barry, Fleabag, Russian Doll, Veep

In my dreams: The Great (Hulu)

The skinny: With the recent announcement that Comedy and Drama Series will each have eight nominees, there are a clear seven, and then that last spot is up for grabs. If it goes to the final season of Modern Family, I won’t hold out hope for anything exciting to happen this year like it did last year. It’s more likely to be a new show, but which one? There are three HBO shows with differing levels of acclaim, none of them with overwhelming praise. So that means it’ll likely be Space Force, which has the Netflix muscle behind it. It, too, had mixed reviews, but seems to be well-liked by most folks who actually binged the whole thing. But it’s too bad the best new comedy of the year isn’t really a contender at all: The Great is magnificent, and should be competing in every category.

Eugene Levy in Schitt's Creek
Anthony Anderson, black-ish
Don Cheadle, Black Monday
Ted Danson, The Good Place
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek

Potential surprises:
Steve Carell, Space Force – new show
Martin Freeman, Breeders – new show
Domhnall Gleeson, RUN – new show
Hugh Laurie, Avenue 5 – new show
William H. Macy, Shameless – 5 nominations
Ramy Youssef, Ramy – never nominated

Ineligible: Bill Hader

In my dreams: Paul Rudd, Living with Yourself

The skinny: A group of multi-time nominees, with no major standout. It feels like Levy by default because it seems like Schitt’s Creek year, and he’s been a comic gem for more than four decades.

Catherine O'Hara in Schitt's Creek
Pamela Adlon, Better Things
Christina Applegate, Dead to Me
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek
Issa Rae, Insecure
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

Potential surprises:
Awkwafina, Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens – new show
Kristen Bell, The Good Place – never nominated
Aidy Bryant, Shrill – new show
Linda Cardellini, Dead to Me – never nominated
Elle Fanning, The Great – new show
Jane Fonda, Grace and Frankie – 1 nomination
Allison Janney, Mom – 2 nominations + 2 wins for Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish – 3 nominations
Merritt Wever, RUN – new show

Ineligible: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Natasha Lyonne, Phoebe Waller-Bridge

In my dreams: Natasia Demetriou, What We Do in the Shadows

The skinny: Crowded as ever, and I’m not sure how the rules about parity in the number of nominees in the lead categories comes into play here. These are all repeat nominees, with a group of veterans on deck to take their place should one fall out of favor. I do not expect the lead of a new show to surprise here.

Mahershala Ali and Ramy Youssef in Ramy
Mahershala Ali, Ramy
Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method
Sterling K. Brown, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
William Jackson Harper, The Good Place
Dan Levy, Schitt’s Creek
Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live

Potential surprises:
Louie Anderson, Baskets – 3 nominations including 1 win
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine – 3 nominations
Chris Elliott, Schitt’s Creek – never nominated for acting
Nicholas Hoult, The Great – new show
John Malkovich, Space Force – new show
James Marsden, Dead to Me – never nominated
Noah Reid, Schitt’s Creek – never nominated
Bowen Yang, Saturday Night Live – new cast member
Michael Zegen, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – never nominated
Any of the guys from Modern Family

Ineligible: Anthony Carrigan, Tony Hale, Stephen Root, Henry Winkler

In my dreams: Walton Goggins, The Righteous Gemstones

The skinny: Lots of turnover with Barry on hiatus and Veep wrapped up. That could mean a line-up that features four African-Americans for the first time ever. And while Ramy didn’t get any nods last year, I can definitely foresee a win for Mahershala Ali, who’s great at everything, adding an Emmy to his two Oscars.

Oh, but if we’re going by who made me laugh the most, I wish Walton Goggins could find his way in as the decrepit, disgusting, deceitful Uncle Baby Billy from The Righteous Gemstones.

Alex Borstein in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Aidy Bryant, Saturday Night Live
D’Arcy Carden, The Good Place
Betty Gilpin, GLOW
Marin Hinkle, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Jane Lynch, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

Potential surprises:
Emily Hampshire, Schitt’s Creek – never nominated
Lisa Kudrow, Space Force – new show
Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek – never nominated
Any of the ladies from Modern Family

Ineligible: Anna Chlumsky, Sian Clifford, Olivia Colman, Sarah Goldberg

In my dreams: Phoebe Fox, The Great

The skinny: Maisel and SNL dominate again, with a spot for Betty Gilpin and one leftover. I think it will go to D’Arcy Carden’s incredible turn as Janet, but don’t be surprised if one of the ladies from Schitt’s Creek gets in.

But if only more people had seen The Great, they’d know Phoebe Fox rises above them all with a smirk.

The cast of The Good Place
The Good Place
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Schitt’s Creek
Silicon Valley
What We Do in the Shadows

Potential surprises:
Dave – new show
The Great – new show
RUN – new show
Space Force – new show
Upload – new show

Ineligible: Barry, Fleabag, PEN15, Russian Doll, Veep

In my dreams: Curb Your Enthusiasm

The skinny: Don’t be surprised if this category doubles up on Maisel again, but I’m hoping they have room for the sublime silliness of What We Do in the Shadows and the heartfelt exploration of faith in Ramy.

Kristen Bell in The Good Place
The Good Place
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Schitt’s Creek
Silicon Valley
What We Do in the Shadows

Potential surprises:
The Great – new show
RUN – new show
Space Force – new show

Ineligible: Barry, The Big Bang Theory, Fleabag

In my dreams: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

The skinny: I think Upload, despite barely being talked about, has enough visual flourish to get nominated here, but it could easily lose out to Space Force or RUN.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (TBS)
Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS)
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)

Potential surprises:
Desus & Mero (Showtime) – never nominated
Late Night with Seth Meyers (NBC) – never nominated
A Little Late with Lilly Singh (NBC) – new show
Some Good News (YouTube) – new show

In my dreams: Good Talk with Anthony Jeselnik (Comedy Central)

The skinny: No surprises here. All of these shows were affected by the pandemic, but John Oliver is going to win yet again.

Tom Hanks on Saturday Night Live
Alternatino with Arturo Castro (Comedy Central)
At Home with Amy Sedaris (truTV)
A Black Lady Sketch Show (HBO)
Drunk History (Comedy Central)
Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Sherman’s Showcase (IFC)

Potential surprises:
Astronomy Club: The Sketch Show (Netflix)
The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show (Netflix)

Ineligible: Documentary Now!; I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman; Who Is America?

In my dreams: Whose Line Is It Anyway? (The CW)

The skinny: A decent bit of turnover will hopefully shine a spotlight on some POC, even though Saturday Night Live will almost certainly win again.

The cast of Good Times
77th Annual Golden Globe Awards (NBC)
62nd Grammy Awards (CBS)
The Little Mermaid Live! (ABC)
Live in Front of a Studio Audience: “All in the Family” and “Good Times” (ABC)
The Oscars (ABC)
73rd Annual Tony Awards (CBS)

Potential surprise:
Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show Starring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira (Fox)

In my dreams: Everything Was Fine: The Good Place Finale Special (NBC)

The skinny: I didn’t predict the Norman Lear-produced live special to even get nominated last year and it won, so I’ll correct that and predict a nod and win this time.

The cast of John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch
Christmas Under the Stars with John Legend (BYUtv)
Country Music: Live at the Ryman (PBS)
Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones (Netflix)
Hannah Gadsby: Douglas (Netflix)
Homefest: James Corden’s Late Late Show Special (CBS)
John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch (Netflix)

Potential surprises:
Aziz Ansari: Right Now (Netflix)
Bill Burr: Paper Tiger (Netflix)
Conan Without Borders: Ghana (TBS)
Dave Chappelle: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (Netflix)
The Disney Family Singalong (ABC)
Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill (Netflix)
Jim Gaffigan: Quality Time (Prime)
The Kennedy Center Honors (CBS)
A Parks and Recreation Special (NBC)

In my dreams: Mike Birbiglia: The New One (Netflix)

The skinny: If James Corden wins again, I will catapult voters into space. It has to be John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch. If it’s not, what are we even doing here?

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