The Wire Knows Who Will and Who Should Win the Emmys: The Comedy Categories

Orange Is the New Black looks to unseat Modern Family after 100 years of Emmy dominance. We've got who should win and who will win. 

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Did you know that the Emmy Awards are this Monday? If that sounds a little weird, it is—the Emmys are strangely early this year, and while most award shows (including this one) tend to favor Sunday airtimes, the Seth Meyers-hosted TV awards are trying to avoid (preseason) football. So we get Monday Night Emmys! While we’ve already gone in-depth on the acting races and seen many trophies handed out (including the Guest Acting awards) at the Creative Arts Emmys, here’s a comprehensive look at the big show. Let’s break down every category and tell you who should win and who will win, continuing with the comedy nominees.

Outstanding Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family
Orange is the New Black
Silicon Valley

[Last year: Modern Family]

Modern Family’s four-year stranglehold on the trophy (ugh) finally feels like it’s slipping. The actors aren’t being nominated in the same uniform blocs, and it’s harder to pick out what storylines are new and what we’ve already seen in syndication. Instead, the trophy will go to Netflix’s prison dramedy Orange is the New Black, which snuck into the comedy category because it has a wry take on serious matters. It’s night and day with Modern Family or The Big Bang Theory, but my pick for the trophy, the always-exciting and different Louie, got equally dramatic this year. So who am I to complain? Nonetheless, Orange is the New Black has all the momentum and long, dramatic 60-minute episodes to wow the voters with. Its biggest contender to the crown is Veep, which had its buzziest, funniest year yet, but still might have to settle for more acting trophies.

Will Win: Orange is the New Black
Should Win: Louie

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Louis C.K., Louie
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Ricky Gervais, Derek
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes 

William H. Macy, Shameless
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

[Last year: Jim Parsons]
The Wire's analysis of episodes submitted to voters.

This is probably the saddest line-up in any of the major categories. For some reason, this has been a weak field in recent years, but still, that doesn’t necessitate picking uninteresting work by Cheadle and LeBlanc (and arguably Macy) just because they’re well-known. Macy is an Emmy favorite who could pose a real threat to win, but his show is probably not beloved enough to push him over the line. Gervais submitted the most treacly, heart-tugging episode possible, but Derek is still little-seen in the States and reviled by critics. I think it comes down to Parsons and C.K., both known quantities to voters, and C.K. takes it this year because he’s never won an acting trophy. But I would have said the same last year, and Parsons won then.

Will Win: Louis C.K.
Should Win: Louis C.K.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation
Taylor Schilling, Orange is the New Black
[Last year: Julia Louis-Dreyfus]
The Wire's analysis of episodes submitted to voters.

And the Emmy goes to … Julia Louis-Dreyfus! That was easy! Pack it all away, guys!

Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Should Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Fred Armisen, Portlandia
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Adam Driver, Girls
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Tony Hale,
[Last year: Tony Hale]
The Wire's analysis of episodes submitted to voters.

Hale’s win last year was a genuine surprise, but to me, he’s the favorite to repeat if you’re going on submissions alone, since he submitted the nosebleed episode, which is a real doozy centered around one of the funniest single scenes of the year. Braugher is his strongest challenger; he’s a zillion-time nominee and two-time winner who branched out into (deadpan) comedy this year to great success. His submitted episode is verrrrry deadpan, but it may not matter. Still, Hale will not be easy to beat. Ferguson continues to suffer from playing a very prickly character, Burrell has already won, and Driver didn’t have as arresting a season this year on Girls. You never know with Armisen—he did well to nudge into the nominee field—but I think Braugher edges everyone by a nose.

Will Win: Andre Braugher
Should Win: Tony Hale

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Anna Chlumsky, Veep 

Allison Janney, Mom
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

Kate Mulgrew, Orange is the New Black
[Last year: Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie]
The Wire's analysis of episodes submitted to voters.

McKinnon, Bialik and Chlumsky are all fantastic parts of their respective shows but never get to be showy enough to win the trophy (well, McKinnon does, but this is not a category kind to SNL actors). Julie Bowen has too many Emmys as it is, although there’s no doubt the Academy likes her. But this feels like a showdown between two legendary women of television—Allison Janney, who already has FIVE Emmys (including one for Masters of Sex that she won this year), and Kate Mulgrew, who’s been around since Ryan’s Hope back in the ‘70s. Many are tipping Janney’s showy, sitcom-y work, which is just another string to her bow, but I think Mulgrew wins with the advantage of Orange’s buzz and her terrific tape, which lets her be funny, serious, and the star of the show for a whole 60 minutes. I’d probably give it to McKinnon, but who’s listening to me?

Will Win: Kate Mulgrew
Should Win: Kate McKinnon

Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series

Paris Barclay, Glee (“100”)
Louis C.K., Louie (“Elevator Part 6”)
Jodie Foster, Orange is the New Black (“Lesbian Request Denied”)
Mike Judge, Silicon Valley (“Minimum Viable Product”) 
Gail Mancuso, Modern Family (“Vegas”)
Iain B. McDonald, Episodes (“Episode 309”)
[Last year: Gail Mancuso, Modern Family]

Modern Family has taken this for the last three years, and Glee won the year before that for its pilot, but there’s a new game in town and its name is Orange is the New Black. It is very, very tough to compete with expensive cable dramas in the “Directing in a Comedy Series” category these days, as ridiculous as that sentence might seem. It’s especially difficult when the director you’re competing against is a famous movie star who has won two Oscars. I’m not guaranteeing that Jodie Foster will walk away with this one, but there’s a lot of things in her favor right now. Myself, I’d go with Mike Judge’s deft work, which kept Silicon Valley feeling realistic and involving even when it forgot to be funny, but Foster did great work on Orange this year.

Will Win: Jodie Foster
Should Win: Mike Judge

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

Alec Berg, Silicon Valley (“Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency”)
Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche, Armando Iannucci, Veep (“Special Relationship”) 
Louis C.K., Louie (“So Did the Fat Lady”)
David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik, Episodes (“Episode 305”)
Liz Friedman & Jenji Kohan, Orange is the New Black (“I Wasn’t Ready”)

[Last year: Tina Fey & Tracy Wigfield, 30 Rock]

Often a tough one to predict, last year this went to 30 Rock’s series finale, and the year before Louis C.K. snagged a trophy in his show’s second season. Orange has the huge advantage of a pilot script, which is usually the easiest way to win a writing trophy, but I’d say this is not Orange’s strongest category, since Emmy often throws the smaller show a bone here. So watch out for those HBO dark horses Silicon Valley and Veep, either of which I’d be happy with (Veep suffers in this category from its reputation as a show with a lot of improv, even though the plotting and writing the crew comes up with on the spot is so crucial). Another dark horse is Louie, nominated for “So Did the Fat Lady,” which ended with a long, impassioned monologue, which is the best way to show off an episode's writing. But I think Orange sneaks by.

Will Win: “I Wasn’t Ready”
Should Win: “Special Relationship”

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.