Emmy race for comedy directing: History says there will be a new winner this year

When it comes to the race for Best Comedy Directing, Emmy voters absolutely hate repeats.


Indeed, it’s been more than a decade since a comedy series (“Malcolm in the Middle,” 2000; 2001) won more than one trophy in the directing category. If history holds, this means that last year’s winner “Modern Family” and 2003 directing champ “Curb Your Enthusiasm” likely won’t be asked back to the winner’s circle. So which new comedy director will Emmy embrace this year?

Lena Dunham seems an unlikely choice to win for the episode “She Did” of “Girls,” as the relative newcomer faces an unfortunate gender bias in this category. The only time a female claimed gold as Best Comedy Director was in 1993, when Betty Thomas prevailed for “Dream On.” That said, perhaps Dunham’s across-the-board love (she’s also up for producing, Comedy Actress and Comedy Writing) will help her overcome this unfair obstacle.

Another performer with multiple bids is Louis C.K. Nominated here for directing the episode “Duckling” of his self-titled show “Louie,” C.K. also contends for Comedy Actor and Comedy Writing. Unlike his competition, C.K. was nominated for an hour-long episode, meaning he has twice the amount of time to convince Emmy voters that he deserves the directing title.

The only other new show in this race is “New Girl” which contends for the series pilot directed by Jake Kasdan. This is Kasdan’s first Emmy nomination, however he previously contended at the Grammys and Golden Globes for co-writing the title song from the film “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” (2007).

If Emmy voters continue the trend of honoring new series for Comedy Directing, then either “Girls,” “Louie” or “New Girl” will hear their names called on Emmy night. But as everyone knows, the Emmys love to surprise us every once in a while. Could “Curb Your Enthusiasm” or “Modern Family” make a rare comeback?

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Long-running laffer “Curb Your Enthusiasm” returns to the directing race for the first time since 2006. The nominated episode is “Palestinian Chicken” directed by 2003 winner Robert B. Weide, which was one of the most buzzed-about TV episodes from last season. This nod brings the total amount of directing nominations for “Curb Your Enthusiasm” to nine. Only “M*A*S*H” (26 directing nominations) and “Cheers” (11 directing nominations) can claim more.

The final two slots both go to “Modern Family.” Last year’s winner Michael Spiller is out, making way for previous directing nominees Steven Levitan (for the episode “Baby on Board”) and Jason Winer (for the episode “Virgin Territory”) to claim their first trophy in this race. These two are far from Emmy losers, however. Levitan has five Emmys on his shelf for writing and producing “Modern Family” and “Frasier,” while Winer has a trophy for producing “Modern Family.”

See also our write-ups for Best Comedy Writing, Best Drama Writing and Best Drama Directing.

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