In the last 15 years, 16 pilots have been nominated for Best Comedy Directing at the Primetime Emmys, and eight have won, but none are nominated this year.
Stand-up comedian Louis C.K. reaped his first Directors Guild nomination for the third season finale of FX's dramedy "Louie" and that same episode is now the frontrunner to win the Emmy, according to Gold Derby's racetrack odds. Titled "New Year's Eve," it was written by C.K., who also directs, produces, and stars in the episode. In it, Louie flies to China on a whim after witnessing the sudden death of a former love interest and feeling lonely without his daughters after Christmas.
Four HBO series have won this award, but "Louie" would be the first basic cable series to do so. Even if C.K. does not win here, however, chances are he'll take home a trophy in one category or another because he is up for a record-breaking nine awards, including the same two writing categories he won last year (Comedy Writing and Variety Special Writing). This would be his first directing Emmy out of four nominations accumulated between this year and last.
Our experts and editors consider this a slam-dunk for "Louie," but Gold Derby's users are less certain, ranking "Hogcock!/Last Lunch," the two-part series finale of NBC's "30 Rock," a close second. This marks Beth McCarthy-Miller's third Emmy nomination for directing the sitcom and her eighth bid overall, but she has never won despite two DGA Awards. "30 Rock" has been nominated eight times each by the Emmys and DGA, but has never won either.
"Hogcock!/Last Lunch" would be the first comedy series finale to win the directing Emmy since "The Larry Sanders Show" in 1998; like "30 Rock," "Larry Sanders" had never won the directing Emmy before then, despite six prior nominations. Four series finales have been nominated since then, most recently "The Comeback" in 2006.
ABC's "Modern Family" has won this award for the last two years and scored six nominations in this category for its first three seasons. Gail Mancuso represents the series this year with the episode "Arrested," in which Haley Dunphy (Sarah Hyland) is arrested at college and expelled. Mancuso was previously nominated in 2011 for "Slow Down Your Neighbors." This year, Gold Derby ranks her in the middle of the pack.
Lena Dunham won this year's DGA Award, but for the pilot of HBO’s "Girls," which was already nominated at last year's Emmys due to the awards' different eligibility periods. This year, she is nominated for "On All Fours," a dark episode that Dunham also co-wrote, in which Dunham's character, Hannah Horvath, sticks a Q-Tip dangerously far into her ear and Adam Sackler (Adam Driver) gets aggressive with his girlfriend during sex after he falls off the wagon.
Despite the risqué material and apparent support for Dunham, who is also nominated for producing and acting on the series this year, our odds rule "On All Fours" a distant fourth in the category, perhaps because of declining buzz for "Girls," which was snubbed from Comedy Writing and was recently overlooked in the top comedy categories at both the Television Critics Association and Critics' Choice TV Awards.
Paris Barclay was newly elected DGA president during Emmy voting for nominations. It seems that industry good will extended to the TV Academy's directors branch, which nominated him this year for directing the "Diva" episode of "Glee." FOX's musical series earned him one previous nomination, for the episode "Wheels" in 2010.
Although most of the original cast had graduated by "Diva," the episode brings the focus back to those fan favorites; it even features a sing-off between Lea Michele and Chris Colfer in a call-back to a storyline from "Wheels." Of the seven songs performed in the episode, only one contains vocals from new cast members.
The last time a show won this category multiple times separated by three years or more was NBC's "Cheers," which won in 1983 and not again until 1991, although that series was nominated every year in between, unlike "Glee," which won in 2010 for its pilot and wasn't nominated again until now. Gold Derby ranks Barclay last in this race, though he won two Emmys in the 1990s for directing "NYPD Blue" and has seven total career nominations.