Tom O’Neil: Why I predict ‘Louie’ will win Emmy for Best Comedy Series

Yeowsa, I’m getting lots of blowback over my Emmy prediction for Best Comedy Series: “Louie.”

“Oh, come on!” roars one huffy email. “How can it possibly win the top series award when it wasn’t even nominated for its first two seasons?”

Well, for starters, it wouldn’t be the first contender to get the last laugh in that category after previously being snubbed. Ever hear of “Seinfeld” and “Everybody Loves Raymond”? The former wasn’t nominated till its third season and won for the fourth. And the latter — which was skunked for its first two seasons — contended for its last seven, triumphing twice.

Louie” got snubbed last year due to a number of bizarre flukes, including a late-breaking surge for “Veep,” which resulted in the new HBO series bumping “Louie” from the crowded race. This year “Veep‘s” hoopla has quieted, “Louie” could wreak revenge and there’s more room in the category for both shows. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” isn’t eligible. That’s especially significant since “Curb” appeals to the same voter demo as “Louie.” Both programs are about wacky, middle-aged showbiz insiders who are disillusioned by Life. “Louie” will surely pick up lots of “Curb” votes.

Nearly all of Gold Derby’s editors believeLouie” will be nominated and, once the opinions of our users get factored in, “Louie” looks like a lock for a slot. (It ranks fifth in our overall ranking of racetrack odds.) Once nommed, it will face a fascinating battle for TV’s golden prize, which “Louie” deserves to win. According to the views of TV critics, “Louie” is the best comedy on the tube.

RELATED: Hey, where’s the Emmy love for critically praised ‘Justified’?

Modern Family” currently leads the contest with the best racetrack odds from Gold Derby, but it’s vulnerable. It’s won three times in a row. Enough? That’s how many times “30 Rock” prevailed before voter fatigue set in, but some comedies have gone further (“Frasier,” five times) and dramas, too (four times for “Mad Men” and “West Wing”).

If “Modern Family” falters, I think only three other shows can win Best Comedy Series:

Arrested Development – Yes, it can. Remember, it prevailed as an underdog over “Raymond” and “Sex and the City” back in 2004, but now I’m skeptical because its renaissance on Netflix is on May 26 – that may be too late for enough voters to have tuned in and build the momentum needed. And, as “Louie” proved, newly arriving shows that are an acquired taste can take a while for Emmy voters to appreciate. 

Girls – Many pundits believe it’s the frontrunner after its recent romp at the Golden Globes where it won Best Comedy and Lead Actress. And that may be true, but it wasn’t nominated at the SAG Awards (hey, what’s up with that?). At last year’s Emmys, “Girls” was nommed for five prizes and it only nabbed one victory: casting. Lena Dunham lost all four bids for Best Comedy, Actress, Directing and Writing. It’s possible that “Girls” is just too young-skewing and female-centric for those geezer dudes in the TV academy.

RELATED: How many ‘Arrested Development’ stars will score Emmy bids?

“Louie”Louis C.K. is not only more in line with the voters’ demo, but he reflects the demo perfectly, even down to the receding hairline and overhanging belly. Last year “Louie” got nominated for three Emmys, all for Louis C.K.: writing (he won for “Pregnant” episode), directing and acting. He ended up setting an Emmy record for most nominations in one year (seven) when he reaped four more for TV special “Louis C.K.: Live from the Beacon Theater” (he won for penning that). This year he can score even more total bids, since he also competes for his HBO special “Louis C.K.: Oh My God” and for hosting “Saturday Night Live.” Clearly, an Emmy lovefest continues to build for him and that could –  watch out – actually pay off with an overdue for best series. That’s my hunch.

Louie” and “Girls” both have deafening buzz and sky-high Cool Factors, which often decide the champ, especially since the new, at-home voting process was enacted in 2000. Now that voters no longer have to sit in hotel rooms to watch sample episodes, then vote immediately afterward, there’s a bit of distance between viewing and voting. Time for more reflection, and thus more time to be affected by buzz and Hollywood groupthink.

Granted, “Modern Family” is still cool, too, so it might claim victory #4, but its buzz is quieting. We have a real race this  year – and a fascinating one, eh?

Join the discussion in our message boards: Can ‘Louie’ really win Best Comedy Series?

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