Emmys curse: ‘Transparent’ is latest dramedy to burn twice as bright half as long

The big snub for Best Comedy Series in the Emmy nominations last Thursday was “Transparent.” It had ranked fifth in Gold Derby’s aggregate predictions, with 8/1 odds. This meant that it was considered more likely than three comedies that ultimately received nominations: “Master of None” (9/1), “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (16/1) and “Modern Family” (25/1). “Transparent” had won eight Emmys over its first two seasons, including consecutive wins for Best Comedy Actor (Jeffrey Tambor) and Directing (Jill Soloway), but none of its directors were nominated this year. How did it fall out of favor with the TV academy so quickly and suddenly?

This question comes up every few years, as new dramedies come and go. “Ally McBeal” has a special place in Emmy history as the only hour-long dramedy ever to win Best Comedy Series, which it did in 1999 when it received 13 nominations for its second season. (See complete list of Emmy’s Best Comedy Series winners in our photo gallery below.) It was never nominated for the top award again, falling to three nominations the next year. With 15 nominations for its first season, “Desperate Housewives” was the most nominated Best Comedy Series nominee of 2005 and it went on to win a leading six trophies. It was never nominated for Best Comedy Series again and its second season received only six nominations with no wins. With 10 nominations for its first season, “Ugly Betty” was the most nominated Best Comedy Series nominee of 2007 and it went on to win Best Comedy Actress (America Ferrera), Directing and Casting. It was never nominated for Best Comedy Series or Directing again, falling to six nominations for its second season, two for its third season and zero for its fourth and final season.

2010 saw a pair of new dramedies break through with Best Comedy Series nominations: “Glee” and “Nurse Jackie.” The latter scored seven other nominations, winning Best Comedy Actress (Edie Falco) and Best Original Main Title Theme Music. It was never nominated for Best Comedy Series again and received only two nominations the next year. “Glee” scored 20 for its first season, then 12 for its second, then only three for its third season. It was never nominated for Best Comedy Series after its second season, nor was “Girls,” which premiered in 2012. Most recently, “Orange is the New Black” received 12 nominations in 2014 for its first season, including Best Comedy Series, then four for its second, including Best Drama Series, then only a Best Drama Casting nomination for its third.

With nominations for its acting, directing, casting, editing and main titles, “Weeds” seemed to be just on the outskirts of a Best Comedy Series nomination in its first three seasons. It finally broke through in 2009 for its fourth, when it earned a series-best six nominations, but the success was short-lived, as “Weeds” was reduced to only a Best Half-Hour Sound Mixing nomination the next year and was shut out entirely for its three remaining seasons. “Entourage” and “Louie” are the rare dramedies each to be nominated three times for Best Comedy Series, but it is curious that it took each until its third season. Before 2007, “Entourage” received nominations for its acting, directing and casting for each of its first two seasons, as well as a writing nomination for its second. It is the only series in the last two decades that received multiple Best Comedy Directing nominations for a season that was not nominated for Best Comedy Series. “Louie” was also nominated for its acting, writing and directing before it broke into Best Comedy Series for its third season in 2013. Its second season is the only season to win Best Comedy Writing in the last decade without being nominated for Best Comedy Series.

The fall of “Transparent” at the Emmys was foreshadowed by its trajectory with other industry-voted awards. It won the Producers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Series last year for its first season, then was not even nominated this year, with its second and third seasons eligible together. It won the Directors Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Directing for its first season, then was merely nominated for its second, then was snubbed for its third. Jeffrey Tambor won Best Comedy Actor at the Screen Actors Guild Awards last year, with the rest of the main cast sharing in a Best Comedy Ensemble nomination; Tambor lost this year to the man who won before him — William H. Macy (“Shameless”), who’s also up for the Emmy — and the show did not earn another nomination for Best Comedy Ensemble. The American Cinema Editors nominated the pilot for Best Half-Hour Editing, but snubbed the second and third seasons.

It is the same story with critic-voted awards, although the series continue get strong notices. Review aggregate Metacritic assigned the first three seasons respective scores of 92, 94 and 90. The Television Critics Association gave the first season a leading four nominations, then shut out the second and third seasons. The first two seasons amassed a combined 10 Critics’ Choice Award nominations, including consecutive Best Comedy Actor wins and consecutive Best Comedy Series nominations, but the third season reaped only two nominations (Best Comedy Actor and Supporting Actress for Judith Light) with no wins.

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on September 17. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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