Editors’ Emmy smackdown: Can any show beat ‘Modern Family’ for Best Comedy Series?

Our Editors are unanimous when it comes to the race for Best Comedy Series at the Emmys: “Modern Family” will win for the third year in a row. (See their complete predictions here.)


But could an upset be possible? Instead of explaining why they think “Modern Family” will win again, the editors discuss what show they believe has the best chance of staging an Emmy coup. Though they agree it’s unlikely, they offer their insights into why “Parks and Recreation,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and “The Big Bang Theory” could unseat the reigning champ:

Marcus Dixon: “Parks and Recreation
If any series other than “Modern Family” hears its name called on Emmy night, it will be “Parks and Recreation.” The show hit a creative high point this season, and no other show in contention can claim that. Arguably, “Curb Your Enthusiasm’s” “Seinfeld” season was its best, and “30 Rock” peaked years ago. “The Big Bang Theory” may be a hit with Emmy voters in the acting branch, but the show isn’t really considered a serious contender to claim the comedy crown. Besides “Parks and Recreation,” the only other possible upsets would be the HBO twosome of “Veep” and “Girls.” It’s still unknown how these two series will be received by the TV Academy, so it’ll be a fun race to watch.

Daniel Montgomery: “Parks and Recreation”
Emmy voters are prone to inertia. Having honored “Modern Family” twice in a row, they seem likely to do it again unless a strong enough challenger knocks it off its perch. The likeliest candidate is “Parks and Recreation,” which has the benefit of critical success, a timely political storyline, and underdog appeal: candidate Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), like the ratings-challenged show itself, is a plucky challenger with strong rooting value up against a Goliath opponent. It also has an upward trajectory at the Emmys, earning its first Best Comedy bid last year, which gives it an edge over “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which has aired eight seasons in twelve years and has probably missed its window.

Matt Noble: “Parks and Recreation”
“Modern Family” seems pretty comfortable in that top slot. If anything were to upset it this year I’d say it would be either “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which is overdue, or “Parks and Recreation,” which broke through last year. If I had to pick one I’d go with “Parks.” While it didn’t have its best season, it was still a strong outing. It broke through in the series category last year, so if it can further increase its nominations haul it will have momentum. It also can cobble together a competitive set of tapes.

Can “Parks,” “Curb,” or “Big Bang” defeat “Modern Family” for Best Comedy?

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Chris Beachum: “Parks and Recreation” or “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
If a show is to beat “Modern Family,” it must have a directing or writing nomination. The only show to win as Best Comedy Series in 30+ years without one of those category slots was “Friends” in 2002. Both “Parks and Recreation” (with its election episodes) and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (with its acclaimed New York episodes) are probably best positioned to gain that advantage. There are no other shows with better story arcs and the potential for those critical directing and/or writing nods.

Rob Licuria: “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
If anything can beat “Modern Family,” it’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”: always nominated, well liked within the industry, and with the might of HBO behind it. With one of the best episodes of comedy I have ever seen — “Palestinian Chicken” — as one of its possible submissions, Larry David is poised to upset. Maybe. Nothing else seems to be in the same ballpark.

Andrew Pickett: “The Big Bang Theory”
There really isn’t much chance of any series overcoming “Modern Family” for the Best Comedy Series Emmy, but the closest contender would probably be “The Big Bang Theory.” It is the most popular comedy on television and has already won two Emmys for lead actor Jim Parsons. Parsons’ co-star Johnny Galecki was nominated for the first time last year, so there is growing support for the show among voters, while the show has also improved with the addition of more female roles and is now one of the funniest on television.


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