For the first time in Emmy history, networks are outnumbered
by cable and online streaming outlets in the coveted best comedy
series category, a sign of a growing appetite for comedy free
from the confines of network TV.
"Modern Family" made waves when its contemporary family dynamic
and gay couple appeared on Walt Disney Co's ABC in 2010. But
today, along with CBS Corp's "The Big Bang Theory," it would be
considered a safe choice for Emmy voters.
The network stalwarts are joined by two previous cable nominees:
the dark and sometimes melancholy comedy "Louie" on Twenty-First
Century Fox's basic cable FX, and HBO's "Veep," a political
satire rich with curse words from U.S. Vice President Selina
And then there are the newcomers, like HBO's technology satire,
"Silicon Valley," where startup culture gets a dose of gross-out
"In order to get people to love a show, you need to alienate
some people, whereas network shows in general have a business
model where they have to go for the middle," said Alec Berg,
executive producer and writer for "Silicon Valley," nominated in
its first season.
"They need to get the most people, but unfortunately that costs
you the people who are super passionate."
The other new kid in the comedy race is "Orange Is the New
Black," the darling of Netflix's original summer programming.
The series is based on a real-life story about a women's prison,
with situations that often stray far from laughs.
To date, HBO's sexually explicit female-driven "Sex and the
City," which won the best comedy Emmy in 2002, is the only cable
show to do so.
A FRESH 'ORANGE'
Much of the difference between a broadcast network comedy and a
cable show comes down to advertiser interests, which networks
must cater to, but premium cable channels such as HBO and
ad-free streaming platform Netflix can avoid. This leads to
content that pushes the boundaries, said Berg.
[to top of second column]
"People are getting more used to watching things in places where
there are no FCC (Federal Communications Commission) guidelines,
there are no censors and there are no standards and practices people
sitting around," Berg said. "Those (guidelines) are starting to feel
For Netflix, which entered the Emmy race just last year and has a
total of 31 nominations this year, "Orange" may just be its "Sex and
the City," after scooping up 12 nods.
"'Orange' has the dramatic element, it has the feel of its time and
it has a strong ensemble of women," said Glenn Whipp, awards
columnist for the Los Angeles Times. "It feels fresh."
"Orange" may also have benefited from the buzz surrounding its
second season release in June, which coincided with the Emmy voting
But "Modern Family" still holds its place as a frontrunner for many
awards predictors, who believe the ABC show will win its fifth best
comedy Emmy on Monday as it continues to reflect contemporary family
dynamics and featured a gay wedding in its latest season. Whipp said
traditionally, Emmy voters tend to select more conservative choices
within the comedy field.
"The show is just going to be hugely appealing to voters because it
makes a social statement, but it is done in an audience-friendly
way," said Whipp. "It is both a critical and a commercial, popular
(The story corrects spelling of "censor" from "sensor" in paragraph
(Editing by Mary Milliken and Tom Brown)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.