The acting categories tend to get most of the attention at the Emmys, but you would be ill-advised to use them to forecast the winner of Best Comedy Series. You would also be ill-advised to consider which comedy racked up the most nominations, since the nominations leader has only matched the Best Comedy winner eight times in the last 15 years. It’s wiser instead to look to the nominees in certain lower-profile categories to determine which show is really ahead.
A nomination for Writing is usually needed. “Modern Family” won Best Comedy last year despite being snubbed in that race, but it was the first in 10 years to do so and only the third in the last 15: “Friends” in 2002 and “Will & Grace” in 2000 also lacked writing bids. “Modern Family” is absent from the category again this year; “Louie” and “30 Rock” are the only current Best Comedy nominees with bids for writing.
A Directing nod is almost as important. “The Office” in 2006 was the last winner without one; “Everybody Loves Raymond” in 2003, “Friends” in 2002, and “Frasier” in 1998 were the only other exceptions in the last 15 years.
The only comedy to win top honors without a nomination for either writing or directing was more than a decade ago (“Friends” in 2002). This may be bad news for “The Big Bang Theory” and “Veep,” which are snubbed in both categories. “30 Rock” was similarly snubbed last year, but it has made a comeback in both races this time around, making it one of only two Comedy Series nominees competing for both; the other is “Louie.”
Picture Editing may be the most essential category when forecasting the Best Comedy winner. Only twice in the last 15 years did a comedy win the top prize without it: “30 Rock” in 2007 and “Sex and the City” in 2001. After being snubbed for its first two seasons, “Louie” finally competes in that race this year.
Best Sound Mixing is also important, and “Modern Family” and “30 Rock” are the only Comedy Series nominees in contention there. The last winner without a Sound Mixing bid was “Arrested Development” in 2004. There are only two other examples in the last 15 years: “Sex and the City” in 2001 and “Will & Grace” in 2000.
Winning series without writing, directing, editing or sound mixing bids is all but impossible—sorry, “Veep.”
Best Casting is the last indicator; of the six Best Comedy nominees, only “The Big Bang Theory” and “Louie” missed out. A comedy won without a Casting nomination only three times out of the last 15. “Everybody Loves Raymond” pulled it off twice (2003 and 2005), for its seventh and ninth seasons, so six-year old “Big Bang” should not necessarily be ruled out because of its snub there. Then again, “30 Rock” managed a bid for its seventh and final season.
Five years in the last 15 have seen comedies hit all five categories, and all five went on to win the big one. “30 Rock” achieved that feat this year, while “Modern Family” has four (missing Writing), “Louie” has three (missing Sound Mixing and Casting), and “Girls” has two (Directing and Casting). “The Big Bang Theory” and “Veep” managed just one apiece (Editing and Casting, respectively). Visit our forums for more detailed statistics.