While the Emmys seem to be moving on from “The Big Bang Theory,” don’t be surprised if it picks up its first Best Comedy Directing nomination this year for its ninth season. Not only is a series-best episode in contention, but the show is statistically overdue for a nomination.
“The Big Bang Theory” is one of only five comedies to have had a helmer contend at the Directors Guild of America Award but not the Emmys. The other four — “The Odd Couple” (1971), “Rhoda” (1974), “Just Shoot Me!” (1998) and “8 Simple Rules” (2003) — reaped just one DGA bid each, but “The Big Bang Theory” has had three (2013, two for 2014).
The Best Comedy Directing category at the Emmys is expanding from five to six slots and four of the comedies that have been nominated over “The Big Bang Theory” since it broke through at DGA — “Episodes,” “Glee,” “Louie,” “Orange is the New Black” — are ineligible.
Even without its DGA history, “The Big Bang Theory” is still a strong possibilty at the Emmys, which has a history of granting seemingly random nominations to shows relatively late in their runs. Despite never being nominated for Best Comedy Series, “Episodes” and “Monk” received their only directing nominations for their third seasons. “Monk” earned only one other nomination that year: Comedy Actor for Tony Shalhoub.
The best template for “The Big Bang Theory” is “How I Met Your Mother,” which earned its only directing nomination for its sixth season, two years after the show received its only Best Comedy Series nomination and the year after supporting actor Neil Patrick Harris reaped his fourth and final nomination. “The Big Bang Theory” was dropped from the Best Comedy Series race last year after four nominations and Jim Parsons was absent from the Best Comedy Actor race after his fourth win. (Despite this decline, “The Big Bang Theory” remained formidable with six Emmy nominations — equaling Best Comedy Series nominees “Modern Family” and “Louie” — for its eighth season, including a repeat win for Best Comedy Multi-Camera Picture Editing.)
“The Big Bang Theory” has submitted two episodes for consideration: “The Fermentation Bifurcation” by normal assistant director Nikki Lorre — daughter of co-creator Chuck Lorre — and “The Opening Night Excitation” by main director and two-time DGA nominee Mark Cendrowski.
The latter is the show’s highest-rated on IMDb and the only one from the past two seasons to rank in the top thirty. It is the episode in which the characters Sheldon Cooper (Parsons) and Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik) finally have sex after dating for six seasons. In a five-star review for Vulture, Kimberly Potts hailed it “the most perfect TBBT episode.” Tom Eames of Digital Spy proclaimed it “genuinely one of the best ‘Big Bang Theory’ episodes of all time.” And giving it his highest grade of the season, Kyle Fowle of The A.V. Club said that the payoff worked out “just about perfectly.” He also named Bialik’s performance the “highlight of the episode.”
Bialik won a Critics’ Choice Award a month after the episode aired; she was the sole nomination for the 2013 Best Comedy Series winner. Gold Derby’s aggregate predictions peg her for a fifth consecutive nomination for Best Comedy Supporting Actress at the Emmys, representing the show in the acting categories with guest Bob Newhart, who won in 2013 and is submitted for his return in “The Opening Night Excitation.”
Also entered for both Best Writing and Editing consideration, it is the one episode of the show that Emmy voters received on DVD this year. This focused campaign ensures that if voters see any episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” it is one that they can mark off on their ballot. Voters may have already seen the episode on their own though, given that its promotion as the one in which Sheldon and Amy have sex resulted in the show’s largest audience of the season — a massive 24 million including a week’s worth of DVR viewing. Jesse Schedeen admitted in a review for IGN, “that spoiler took some of the wind out of the show’s sails,” but still awarded the episode his highest score of the season and summed it up as “amazing.”
Be sure to make your Emmy predictions right here. You’ll compete to win our contest prizes for best picks — $500 (first place), $300 (second place) and $200 (third place) in Amazon gift certificates — a place of honor on our leaderboard and a starring role in next year’s Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year’s Emmy nominations). Be sure to read our contest rules.