Move over, darling! Emmy’s comedy series category could make history with most female-forward nominees ever

Stop what you are doing right now and take a gander at the comedy series that our 26 Gold Derby Experts have chosen as the likely recipients of a nomination berth when the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards contenders are announced on July 16. Do you spy anything unusual?

Here’s a hint. How many male-dominated shows do you see on the list? A mere two. There is the second season of HBO’s  “Barry,” with Bill Hader as an assassin who aspires to be an actor and Henry Winkler who coaches him. And there is Netflix’s newcomer, “The Kominsky  Method,” with Michael Douglas as an acting coach and Alan Arkin as his agent and only friend.

One weird coincidence is how the two shows sound a bit redundant, save for “Barry’s” criminal element. Be that as it may, the rest of the front-runners are decidedly female-driven efforts:  HBO’s “Veep” (backed by 21 Experts to win in its last season); Amazon Prime’s “Fleabag” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” 2018’s champ; Netflix’s “GLOW,” “Dead to Me” and “Russian Doll”; and NBC’s “The Good Place.”

Consider that just last year, only three lady-led shows made the cut — “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “GLOW” and Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” in its penultimate season. But with eight sitcoms deemed eligible to vie for outstanding comedy series, four male-headed shows along, with ABC’s family-themed “Black-ish,” were also up for the honor: FX’s “Atlanta,” HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Silicon Valley” as well as “Barry.”

SEE ‘Mrs. Maisel’s’ secret weapon is it subtle but substantial hint 21st century female empowerment

But the sad fact is, the 2018 line-up tied the long-ago record originally set in 1955, when “I Love Lucy,” “Our Miss Brooks” and “Private Secretary” were in the running. The next time  it happened was in the years 1989, 1990 and 1991 with CBS’s “Designing Women” and “Murphy Brown” (which won twice) as well as NBC’s “The Golden Girls” repeating each of those years. But the 2019 Emmys can change all that if at least four femme-forward shows squeeze into the category — namely, by breaking the record for the most ever in one year.

The days when sitcom women were defined as housewives or mothers are long gone. Perhaps Rachel Brosnahan as Midge on “Mrs. Maisel” and Christina Applegate as Jen on “Dead to Me” deal with parenting. But since Midge is separated from her cheating spouse as she pursues a stand-up career and real-estate agent Jen has been left widowed by a hit-and-run driver, neither would be described as primarily maternal figure or as a role that woman take on too frequently, the supportive wife or girlfriend.

How did sitcom women finally become liberated from June Cleaver’s apron and pearls? It has been a slow-moving evolution from the single career gal a the center of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and the sexually liberated and in-charge female foursome on “Sex and the City” to the edgier versions of 21st century femininity in the forms of “Nurse Jackie” and “Girls.” Matters have progressed so much that most of the contenders this year could best described as dramedies — but their sometimes serious overtones never get in the way of providing the more honest laughs that viewers seem to crave these days.

That certainly includes “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Amazon’s first big win for an original series, which won a record-setting eight Primetime Emmys — the most ever won in a single season by a comedy series. Uncensored cable and streaming outlets also liberated female discourse and depictions of sexuality. Plus, the #MeToo movement not only has crushed some men’s acting and directing careers, it has also made portraits of male predators no joking matter. If anything should reflect the welcome shift in gender attitudes, it is what the 25,000 or so Emmy voters will choose to celebrate on Tuesday. And that is nothing to laugh at.

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