Emmy experts civil war: They disagree on ‘Atlanta’ vs. ‘Veep’ for Best Comedy Series

The Emmy Award contest for Best Comedy Series is a close two-way race according to our experts, with “Atlanta” and “Veep” dividing our pundits almost right down the middle. Eight are betting on the breakout freshman series on FX, while the other seven are forecasting HBO’s two-time defending champ.

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As of this writing we’ve polled 15 experts from top media outlets for their early Emmy picks, and the eight predicting “Atlanta” to win on its first try are Kerr Lordygan (Rotten Tomatoes), Lynette Rice (Entertainment Weekly), Robert Rorke (New York Post), Matt Roush (TV Guide Magazine), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Ken Tucker (Yahoo) and Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Times).

Emmy voters are often slow to embrace new shows, but there’s good reason to believe “Atlanta” will be an exception to that rule. Consider how well it did during the winter awards season. It won the Golden Globe for Best TV Comedy Series, which isn’t unusual since Globe voters can’t resist a cool new show. But then “Atlanta” swept through a number of key industry awards, winning Best Comedy Series from the Producers Guild and Writers Guild and earning a nomination from the Directors Guild. It was overlooked by the SAG Awards, but that’s rarely a fatal blow: the SAG Awards have been late to the party with other shows like “Homeland” and “Transparent” that nevertheless scored top Emmy nominations and wins for their first seasons.

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But Emmy voters love repeat winners. In fact, in the last 10 years of Best Comedy Series, only three shows have won: “30 Rock” (2007-2009), “Modern Family” (2010-2014) and “Veep” (2015-2016). So it’s reasonable to believe that “Veep” will continue its winning streak uninterrupted. The seven experts predicting that outcome are Debra Birnbaum (Variety), Eric Deggans (NPR), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Adnan Virk (ESPN) and Jarett Wieselman (Buzzfeed).

On top of Emmy voters’ fondness for repeat winners, “Veep” could also get a boost from parallels to the absurd politics of the real world. Then again, “Veep” might seem tame compared to the actual political climate.

None of our experts are predicting any other shows to win, but they’re unanimous that ABC’s “Black-ish” will be nominated again. It earned its first nomination in this category last year for its second season, and since then the show has been steadily increasing its awards momentum, earning its first Golden Globe nom for Best Comedy Series and its first SAG Awards nom for Best Comedy Ensemble. If it prevails it certainly wouldn’t be the first time it took Emmy voters a few years to catch on to a show — just look at “Veep,” which didn’t win until season four.

Emmy experts are nearly unanimous that Donald Glover (‘Atlanta’) will win Best Comedy Actor

Along with “Veep” and “Black-ish,” the other five returning Comedy Series nominees from last year are also eligible to return, but how many of them will get back in with newcomer “Atlanta” widely expected to grab a slot? Almost all of our experts — 13 out of 15 — are predicting a third consecutive nomination for Amazon’s dramedy “Transparent,” while 12 experts are betting on a fourth straight bid for HBO’s tech-industry comedy “Silicon Valley.” Both shows were among last year’s most nominated comedies, with 10 and 9 nominations, respectively.

Ten experts say Netflix’s “Master of None” will return after breaking through for its first season last year. Another seven experts are betting on a return nomination for a second Netflix show, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” which has been nominated for the last two years. “Master of None” premieres its new season on May 12, and “Kimmy Schmidt” will follow on May 19, so both shows will be fresh in voters’ minds when they’re marking their ballots in June.

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Five experts forecast a nomination for another first-year show, HBO’s “Insecure.” The series was created by and stars Issa Rae, who earned a Golden Globe nom for her performance. And four experts think her fellow HBO series “Girls” will return. “Girls” earned nominations for Best Comedy in 2012 and 2013, but hasn’t contended since. However, sentiment and acclaim for its sixth and final season, which aired this spring, may inspire voters to rally behind it again.

After years of “Modern Family” dominating the Emmys, only three of our experts are now predicting it to be nominated. It tied “Frasier’s” all-time record with five straight Comedy Series victories, and it has been nominated for all seven seasons it’s been eligible.

Several other shows have support from one expert: FXX’s acclaimed black comedy “You’re the Worst,” Netflix’s social commentary “Dear White People,” Amazon’s BAFTA-nominated “Fleabag,” FX’s  Pamela Adlon comedy “Better Things” and CBS’s top-rated “The Big Bang Theory.”

Predict the Emmy nominees now; change them until July 13

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on July 13. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums.

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