The old saying goes, write what you know. That’s probably why so many people in Hollywood end up writing stories about people in Hollywood. Nowhere is that more true than in this year’s Emmy race for Best Comedy Series, where five of the eight nominees are about the entertainment business. But only one such show has won in the 21st century so far: “30 Rock,” which prevailed for three years in a row (2007-2009). Can one of this year’s contenders bring the Emmy back to Hollywood? (See the complete list of nominees here.)
The most nominated series of the year is FX’s sophomore comedy “Atlanta” with 16 bids. It follows a down-on-his-luck music manager (Best Comedy Actor nominee Donald Glover) struggling to guide his cousin Paper Boi (Best Comedy Supporting Actor nominee Brian Tyree Henry) through his burgeoning rap career.
Right behind “Atlanta” with 14 nominations is Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Set in the 1950s, it tells the story of a housewife (Best Comedy Actress nominee Rachel Brosnahan) who starts a career as a stand-up comic after her husband suddenly walks out on her.
“Barry” debuted just a few months ago, but it made a strong enough impression that it’s now a 13-time nominee. Bill Hader co-created, writes, directs, produces and stars in the HBO series about a hitman with dreams of becoming an actor. Henry Winkler picked up a Best Comedy Supporting Actor nom for playing his acting coach.
Another freshman series, Netflix’s “GLOW,” is up for 10 awards. It’s an ensemble comedy about an aspiring actress (Alison Brie) in the 1980s who signs up to make a women’s wrestling TV show alongside her estranged best friend (Best Comedy Supporting Actress nominee Betty Gilpin).
And the long-running HBO comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm” earned four nominations for its ninth season. It was created by Larry David, who contends for Best Comedy Actor for playing a version of himself, an irascible TV writer.
You could even argue that “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” from “30 Rock” creator Tina Fey, is a showbiz comedy too. Scene-stealer Tituss Burgess (nominated for Best Comedy Supporting Actor) plays a vain struggling actor, though the show isn’t centrally focused on his career exploits.
The Best Comedy Series category is rounded out by “Black-ish” and “Silicon Valley,” so with such a glut of entertainment-based shows, can one of those two surprise? Family comedies like “Black-ish” certainly have a storied Emmy history, including two-time Comedy Series winner “Everybody Loves Raymond” (2003, 2005) and five-time winner “Modern Family” (2010-2014), just to name a couple of recent examples.
And workplace comedies like “Silicon” have also proved successful, as evidenced by “The Office” (2006) and “Veep” (2015-2017). “30 Rock” also qualifies as a workplace sitcom in addition to its behind-the-scenes TV industry setting.
But with the mass of nominations for “Atlanta,” “Mrs. Maisel,” “Barry” and “GLOW” this year it will probably be lights, camera, action when the envelope is opened on September 17.
Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before winners are announced on September 17. Be sure to also predict winners for the Creative Arts ceremonies slated for September 8 and 9. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.