Last week, we noted that “Schitt’s Creek” is attempting to be the first show to sweep Best Comedy Series, Best Comedy Actress and Best Comedy Actor in the same Emmy ceremony since “30 Rock” 12 years ago. A big ask for sure. An even bigger ask? To become just the fourth show in Emmy history to do so.
Yup, fourth. Since Best Comedy Series was added at the fourth Emmys in 1952 — undergoing various name changes along the way — the only shows to win that prize and the lead comedy acting awards in the same year are “30 Rock,” “All in the Family” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” “30 Rock” scored victories for Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin in 2008, 30 years after “All in the Family” nabbed the lead prizes for Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton. The seminal Norman Lear sitcom also claimed the three categories in 1972. “The Dick Van Dyke Show” nabbed the trifecta in 1966, with wins for Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. The series also did so in 1964, but that one comes with an asterisk as the acting categories weren’t split into genres that year, which in some ways is more impressive that it pulled it off.
SEE Emmys: Can ‘Schitt’s Creek’ pull a ’30 Rock’ and win comedy series, actress and actor in the same year?
The other caveat comes with “Caesar’s Hour.” In 1957, the sketch series swept the two lead comedy races (Sid Caesar and Nanette Fabray) and the two non-genre-specific supporting categories (Carl Reiner and Pat Carroll), but that year — and that year only — the Emmys gave out prizes for Best Series — Half Hour or Less and Best Series — One Hour or More instead of Best Comedy Series and Best Drama Series. Two comedies prevailed: “The Phil Silver Shows” won the former and “Caesar’s Hour” took the latter, but the TV academy does not recognize either as having won Best Comedy Series.
So even if you count “Caesar’s Hour,” four is not a whole lot of precedence. As we previously noted, there are several shows that have won all three awards but not in the same year, including “Everybody Loves Raymond” (2003, 2005) and leads Patricia Heaton (2000-01) and Ray Romano (2002); “Will & Grace” (2000) and leads Eric McCormack (2001) and Debra Messing (2003); “Cheers” (1983-84, ’89, ’91) and leads Shelley Long (1983)/Kirstie Alley (1991) and Ted Danson (1990, ’93); and “Taxi” (1979-81) and leads Ruth Gordon (1979)/Carol Kane (1982) — both of whom were actually guest stars — and Judd Hirsch (1981, ’83).
The other factor is that, barring ensembles (see: “Modern Family,” “Friends”), it’s more common for comedies to have a single lead of either gender than one of each. The last three shows to win Best Comedy Series — “Veep” (2015-17), “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (2018) and “Fleabag” (2019) — were all headlined by women without a corresponding male lead and won for their respective leading ladies as well. In the ’90s, “Frasier” dominated for five straight years (1994-98) without a female lead. And other champs like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (1975-77), “Murphy Brown” (1990, ’92), “Seinfeld” (1993), “Ally McBeal” (1999), “Sex and the City” (2000) had undisputed solo leads.
SEE ‘Schitt’s Creek’ can get its Emmy happy ending as one of the few shows to nab its first comedy series win for its last season
In other words, for “Schitt’s Creek” to pull off this incredibly rare feat, all the stars need to align, which they might. The Pop TV series is one of those few shows that’s on the rise with the Emmys in its later years, having just broken through last year with four bids, including comedy series and the lead categories for Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy. That and its well-received sixth and final season might encourage voters to check out the show — because what do we have if not time right now? — on Netflix, where the Canadian series has built up its fan base over the years.
“Schitt’s Creek” is currently in second place in our comedy series odds, on the heels of 2018 champ “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” The two shows and “The Good Place,” which also concluded this year, are the only nominees from last year’s field of seven eligible to return. “Maisel” could also block “Schitt’s Creek” in actress, as O’Hara and former winner Rachel Brosnahan have been neck and neck all season in our odds; O’Hara recently pulled out in front, but the difference is negligible. For now, it appears the “easiest” category for “Schitt’s Creek” to win is actor, where “Maisel” does not have a contender. Levy, who won a writing Emmy with O’Hara and the “SCTV” team in 1982, holds a comfortable margin over “The Good Place’s” Danson.
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