The Emmy win by “30 Rock” for Best Casting for a Comedy Series at the Creative Arts was shocking for a number of reasons. First of all, “30 Rock” had not won an Emmy in any category since 2009. The NBC sitcom may have won Best Comedy Series for its first three seasons, as well as 11 other trophies, but its next three years reaped zero Emmys from 45 nominations, including those for its online tie-ins.
Secondly, it seemed inconsistent with how the casting branch bestows awards. It is a rarity for a series to win casting twice at the Emmys, although “30 Rock” managed to win back-to-back in 2008 and 2009. The casting categories are biased toward newer shows, which makes sense because early seasons are when shows establish their casts. Prior to last night, the only series ever to win for its fifth season or later was NBC’s police procedural “Homicide: Life on the Street,” which won in 1998 for its sixth season. The last show before “30 Rock” to be nominated so late in its run was NBC’s sitcom “Frasier” in 2004 for its eleventh and final season.
Now “30 Rock” is the only program since the Emmys started awarding casting in 1996 to win three times. Unfortunately for “30 Rock” fans however, the series was unable to win any awards that it actually was seen as competitive for: guest actress Elaine Stritch who won in 2007, its picture editing that won in 2008, its sound mixing that won in 2009 or its first bid for original song. Its record-breaking casting win confirms that 30 Rock is indeed in the race for best comedy, but its losses elsewhere prevent declaring it the frontrunner.
Incumbent Best Comedy Series champ “Modern Family” came out empty-handed from the Creative Arts. Although it competed in five categories, it was a longshot in most (casting, guest actor, picture editing, stunt coordination). The only Creative Arts category that it won last year was sound mixing, which it also claimed for its first season. Their loss this year may be due to the episode that they submitted for consideration. “My Hero” was primarily shot at a roller rink. Such open indoor spaces are notorious for their poor acoustics, which likely gave the sound team more to work with, but may have been an exercise in futility if their goal was an unreservedly pleasant auditory experience. Poor showings at the Creative Arts have not hindered the ABC mockumentary before, so it is very much still in the running. It was skunked two years ago and took home just one trophy last year; both years it went on to win Best Comedy Series.
“Louie” competed in the Creative Arts categories for the first time this year – for picture editing and guest actress Melissa Leo. The latter won, marking the first award for the FX dramedy that has not gone solely to Louis C.K., signifying that support for the show extends beyond him and solidifying its position as a key contender for best comedy this weekend. It stood a legitimate shot to win editing, given that no single-camera comedy has ever won twice, and it was the only nominee this year without a previous win. If it had triumphed, it might have become the frontrunner, but the Emmys instead awarded NBC’s mockumentary “The Office” a record-breaking second win.
Without writing or directing nominations, HBO’s political satire “Veep” looks like a longshot for best comedy and even more so after the Creative Arts. It contended in just one category, but was seen as a strong contender to win the award, which was casting. Instead, it lost to “30 Rock” against the odds, so support for “Veep” appears to be shallower than expected.
Although it lost hairstyling and editing, Sunday was a good night for CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” which won both its first craft award, for technical direction, as well as its first acting award for someone other than lead actor Jim Parsons, who competes for a third Emmy next Sunday. Guest actor Bob Newhart prevailed, bringing the series’ total wins to four.