Emmy Awards 2016: Comedy Writing frontrunners – ‘Veep,’ ‘black-ish,’ ‘Master of None,’ ‘Catastrophe’ …

The Emmy Awards ballot for Best Comedy Writing lists a staggering 191 episodes from 90 series. This is the first year that there will be officially six nominees, although there were that many last year because of a tie:

“Episodes” season 4
“Episode Nine” (David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik)

The Last Man on Earth” season 1
“Alive in Tucson” (Will Forte)

“Louie” season 5
“Bobby’s House” (Louis C.K.)

Silicon Valley” season 2
“Two Days of the Condor” (Alec Berg)

Transparent” season 1
“Pilot” (Jill Soloway)

Winner: Veep” season 4
“Election Night” (Simon Blackwell & Tony Roche & Armando Iannucci)

Of these shows, “Episodes” and “Louie” are on hiatus. Aside from last year’s other nominees, the only eligible shows previously nominated for Best Comedy Writing are “Girls” (2012) and “Modern Family” (2010 and 2011; it won both years).

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However, the Emmys are fickle. The last show to return as a nominee after multi-year snubs was “Frasier. It reaped 12 nominations from 1994 to 2000, winning in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1999. After being absent for three years, it was welcomed back for its series finale in 2004.

“The Last Man on Earth” and “Transparent” were nominated for their pilots last year. In the last decade, four comedies —  “My Name is Earl” (2006 — win), “Pushing Daisies” (2008), “Glee” (2010) and “Girls” (2012) — were nominated for their pilots and never again. (Another, “Orange is the New Black” was so nominated in 2014 before being moved by the TV academy over to drama last year where it was snubbed.)

Baskets,” “Catastrophe” and “Lady Dynamite” are banking on this affinity for pilots and have each only submitted their first episode. “Baskets” hails from Louis C.K., who won this race twice for “Louie” (2012, 2014). Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, who both created and star in “Catastrophe,” are fresh from their BAFTA win for Best Comedy Writing. Also working in their favor is the penchant of the writers’ branch specifically for British collaborations such as “Episodes,” which has been nominated for Best Comedy Writing every season despite never being nominated for Best Comedy Series. And “Lady Dynamite” is Mitch Hurtwitz’s most acclaimed project since “Arrested Development,” for which he won consecutive Emmys in this category (2003, 2004).

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Critics’ Choice Award winner for Best Comedy Series “Master of None” is playing the long game by not submitting its first episode. Every comedy in recent history that has been nominated in for a first-season script other than its pilot has become a perennial nominee: “Silicon Valley” (2014; again in 2015), “Louie” (2011; again in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015), “Flight of the Conchords” (2008; again in 2009), “30 Rock” (2007; then twice in 2008 with a win; four times in 2009 with a win; twice in 2010; once in 2011; and twice in 2013 with a win) and “Extras” (2006; again in 2007).

The Writers Guild Awards share voters with the Emmy writers’ branch, so their nominations list is a good place to identify leading contenders. “black-ish” and “Maron” were nominated for Best Comedy Episode Writing; “Broad City” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” were nominated for Best Comedy Series Writing, which is especially correlative with the Emmys. “Broad City” is only the second nominee in that category’s 11-year history to not have been nominated for either Best Comedy Series or Best Comedy Writing at the Emmys; the first was “The Simpsons,” which submitted instead for Best Animated Program.

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However, “Broad City” may have stacked the deck against itself by submitting four episodes. None of the nominated comedies last year entered so many episodes, strategically consolidating their votes with just one (“Episodes”, “Louie”, “Transparent”, “Veep”), two (“Silicon Valley”) or three (“The Last Man on Earth”).

The negative effects of vote-splitting were felt by “Veep,” which submitted five episodes its first two seasons and was snubbed both years. Season two had won Best Comedy Series Writing at WGA, signaling that the show was the most popular among writers but their votes were split too many ways at the Emmys. It submitted only one episode for each of its next two seasons, was nominated for both and won last year. Coming off of its first Best Comedy Series win at the Emmys and another Best Comedy Series Writing win at WGA, “Veep” is aiming for multiple nominations this year by submitting three.

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Submissions from top contenders:

“Baskets” season 1
“Renoir” (Louis C.K. & Zach Galifianakis & Jonathan Krisel)

“black-ish” season 2
“Hope” (Kenya Barris)

“Broad City” season 3
“B&B-NYC” (Paul W. Downs & Lucia Aniello)
“Burning Bridges” (Abbi Jacobson & Ilana Glazer)
“Rat Pack” (Jen Statsky)
“2016” (Chris Kelly)

“Catastrophe” seasons 1 & 2
“Episode 1” (Rob Delaney & Sharon Horgan)

“Lady Dynamite” season 1
“Pilot” (Pam Brady & Mitch Hurwitz)

“The Last Man on Earth” season 2
“Pitch Black” (David Noel & John Solomon)
“Silent Night” (Tim McAuliffe)

“Maron” seasons 3 & 4
“Racegate” (Dave Anthony)
“Step 1” (Sivert Glarum & Michael Jamin)

“Master of None” season 1
“Parents” (Aziz Ansari & Alan Yang)

“Silicon Valley” season 3
“Founder Friendly” (Dan O’Keefe)
“The Uptick” (Alec Berg)

“Transparent” season 2
“Kina Hora” (Jill Soloway)
“Man on the Land” (Ali Liebegott)
“The Book of Life” (Ethan Kuperberg)

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” season 2
“Kimmy Finds Her Mom!” (Tina Fey & Sam Means)
“Kimmy Goes on a Playdate!” (Robert Carlock)

“Veep” season 5
“Kissing Your Sister” (Erik Kenward)
“Morning After” (David Mandel)
“Mother” (Alex Gregory & Peter Huyck)

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