One Emmy Voter’s Ballot: Writing in a Comedy Series

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  • helmetz
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    #353080

    In this totally-online voting year, I can only hope that my ballot is in the capable hands of Ernst and Young and that I can finally reveal how I voted on my Emmy ballot for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series.  First of all, thank you all as always for your suggestions and your passion in sharing your favorite comedy scripts.  I could not have voted the way I have without your input.

    As an intro for newbies, here’s my preparation process.  I try to carve out a weekend after the eligible ballot entries are announced, though it rarely works out to be only one weekend.  I review the suggestions that you all have made and put the most passionately mentioned titles at the top of the pile.  I try to watch as many episodes as I can back-to-back-to-back so that it’s easier to compare the strengths and weaknesses of the contenders.

    In this phase, the voting is not preferential.  You just have to list the five comedy scripts that most impressed you this year.  Since the ballot entries are listed alphabetically by series, so are the five scripts as listed on my ballot.

    THE COMEBACK – “Valerie Makes a Pilot”
    OK, it is not “Valerie Gets What She Really Wants,” which IMHO was the best written half-hour hour comedy episode this season.  Why that episode wasn’t even submitted for consideration still baffles me.  “Valerie Makes a Pilot” is not in that league, but it is asked to do some very heavy lifting for a season premiere.  After all, it has been 9 years since the last episode of “The Comeback.”  During that time, the show’s stature has grown by word of mouth, so many viewers may not have previously even seen one episode of the series.  This script has to lay out the show’s premise for new viewers, catch fans up on what has happened to Valerie Cherish these past 9 years, and lay the groundwork for the plot of this new season.  A lot of business to do, and the script does it expertly, while still being hilarious.  The climax of Valerie bursting into an HBO casting session still remains one of the comic highlights of the season. 

    LOUIE – “Bobby’s House”
    This one threw me for a loop.  Act 1 is pretty straightforward with Louie and his brother Bobby thrown together for a terrific two-hander scene at Bobby’s house.  Louie then suffers a humiliating event at the top of Act 2, which causes his daughters and Pamela to laugh at him through his pain.  Act 3 is beyond words and one of the best pieces of writing Louis C.K. has ever done.  If Emmy voters are open to the plot twist, this could be another Emmy winner.

    MODERN FAMILY – “Connection Lost”
    Unless the winner is “Connection Lost.”  I know that Emmy voters have been called snobs on this board for rewarding “Modern Family,” but if they keep producing episodes with this level of writing, then call me a snob.  Yes, this is the likely winner for Steven Levitan’s great direction, but it’s all there on the page.  The social media concept of the episode is inspired, but the follow-through, particularly through the increasing anxiety of Claire as she has placed herself as ringmaster for this circle of family dysfunction.  Inventive writing, brilliantly realized.

    PARKS AND RECREATION – “Leslie & Ron”
    As anyone who has followed my ballots over the years knows, I’m a sucker for a script with only two characters.  The writing had better be great, though, and it is here, with my two favorite characters in this Emmy-undervalued show.   The improv background of the criminally under Emmy-ed Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman come to the forefront as Leslie and Ron are locked in a room by their friends to iron out their serious differences.  Leslie taunts Ron with kindness until he breaks — his reason for his break with his friend is simple but shattering.  I know the series finale has some support, but the quality writing here makes “Leslie & Ron” my choice.

    VEEP – “Election Night”
    There are so many spinning plates in this episode as Selina awaits the Presidential election returns that it’s breathtaking that none of them fall.  It’s hard enough to balance an “A” & “B” plot in a half-hour, but this episode manages to even get to a “G” & “H” plot.  It’s been a good season for “Veep,” and this is the episode that brings it all together masterfully, and it deserves a nomination.

    A few thoughts on some high-profile scripts that didn’t quite make the cut…

    black-ish – “Crime and Punishment”
    JANE THE VIRGIN – “Pilot”
    I liked both of these scripts very much, but they didn’t make the Top 5 because, in some form or fashion, I’d seen them before.  For “black-ish,” it was a parent who is forced, against his will, to act in a way that society would judge as parental, but he is uncomfortable and ultimately does the right thing.  For “Jane the Virgin,” with that whopping plot twist halfway through, still has a similarly comic telenovela tone as “Ugly Betty,” a style which by now has become a bit more familiar.  Very well done for freshman series, but not quite up to the daring of the Top 5.

    TRANSPARENT – “Pilot”
    I hugely admire the daring concept and writing of the “Transparent” pilot, but I didn’t vote for it because it’s not a comedy.  There’s a certain story structure for a comedy (that even an hour-long show like “Jane the Virgin” abides by) and a totally different one for drama (which “Orange” tried to get away with last year).  This family drama is much closer in structure to “Parenthood” than it is to “Modern Family.”

    Unlike some years, when the results are revealed on July 16, I have no freaking idea what the final 5 will be, but I’ll be thrilled if any of these scripts sneak in.  Thank you again for all of your help.

    Reply
    jf123
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    #353082

    Great choices! {#emotions_dlg.talli}

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    Halo_Insider
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    #353083

    Hooray for “Leslie and Ron”! My choice for Comedy Episode of the year.

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    Riley
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    #353084

    I actually have seen none of the episodes that you nominated; I have a ways to go in my Emmy watching.

    Did you watch the one that I suggested: “Teacup” from Man Seeking Woman?

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    KyleBailey
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    #353085

    Yay The Comeback and Parks and Rec! I hope all the voters are as smart as you 

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    AviChristiaans
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    #353086

    Always great seeing your choice helmetz. I personally only agree with Veep and Louie.
    And i think the black-ish episode is highly underrated. I hope it gets in.

    Out of the choices you made last year, only Veep’s “Special Relationship” and Louie’s “So Did the Fat Lady” got an Emmy nom.
    Your one choice that didn’t make your cut (Orange is the New Black’s I Wasn’t Ready ) also got a nomination.

    In 2013, only two of your choices made it in. 30 Rock’s “Last Lunch” and Louie’s “Daddy’s Girlfriend” (Part 1)”.

    Great stuff helmetz!

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    Icky
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    #353087

    Kinda disappointed to see nothing from my four favorite comedies of the season: Getting On, You’re the Worst, Broad City or New Girl. Somewhat surprised the finale of Community isn’t listed since you’ve voted for Community a few times before. Did no one suggest it? Is it not submitted? 

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    Gnarls
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    #353088

    I like seeing The Comeback on your ballot and Leslie & Ron is probably the standout episode of the final season of Parks and Rec,unfortunately I would be surprised if either got nominated.

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    Gabriel
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    #353089

    Disappointing to see no Broad City. Did you watch either of its two submissions?

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    OnTheAisle
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    Sep 19th, 2011
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    #353090

    In this totally-online voting year, I can only hope that my ballot is in the capable hands of Ernst and Young and that I can finally reveal how I voted on my Emmy ballot for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series.  First of all, thank you all as always for your suggestions and your passion in sharing your favorite comedy scripts.  I could not have voted the way I have without your input.

    Thank you! I now have set my  DVR to catch a few missed episodes of what appears to be excellent television.

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    David Buchanan
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    #353091

    This looks like a great selection of episodes, helmetz! As always, thank you for so generously considering all of our input.  I’m excited that my personal choice made the cut, and I’m particularly interested to see how the official nominees mirror your list; one discrepancy I can easily imagine is Episodes getting nominated again.

    Formerly known in the forums as PianoMann.

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    Anonymous
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    #353092

    Great seeing Modern Family, Parks & Rec and Veep there. What about your Drama Writing nominations? Did you vote for them too or just this category? 

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    Riley
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    #353093

    Somewhat surprised the finale of Community isn’t listed since you’ve voted for Community a few times before. Did no one suggest it? Is it not submitted?

    It is their sole submission; Teproc suggested it.

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    Ryan Showers
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    #353094

    Great choices! Are you going to share your Drama Series picks too?

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    Adam Rock
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    #353095

    I love the Louie support. There are mix feeling about this show, particularly this season, but the episode “Bobby’s House” was fantastic. I was not a fan of Veep this season but that finale kind of made up for a lot of it so I’m good with that. Disappointed by the Transparent omission but I understand because of its incorrect category placement.

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