Tonight, the 66th Annual Primetime Emmys will air on NBC, and many of television’s most beloved performers will converge on the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles to find out who will be awarded this year’s top prizes.
The nominees for Outstanding Comedy Series cover a wide range of topics: the tech industry, a group of brainy friends, a dysfunctional but loving family, the day-to-day struggles of a stand-up comic living in New York, and life inside a women’s prison. Which show will be named the best of the year? Here are the nominees.
Nobody styles his comedy with a dark dose of reality better than Louis CK. His FX series about a New York City-based stand-up comedian and single dad showcases his unique style perfectly. Louie has featured a number of memorable guest performances from A-list actors — including the recently deceased Robin Williams — and tackles issues like suicide, women’s rights, dating, and insecurity with a truthful and poignant hilarity.
Why it could win: Its stellar writing and gritty aesthetic set it apart from the other nominees.
Will it win? Probably not. It’s a critical favorite, but not always a crowd pleaser.
Modern Family (ABC)
It’s been one of the most popular comedy series since it debuted in 2009, and, staying true to its name, Modern Family has kept up with the times. It tells interwoven stories of three distinctly different nuclear families that share a patriarch but not a whole lot else in common. The dry humor and relatable scenes of domestic life have made this mockumentary-style series a hit with critics and audiences.
Why it could win: It’s already won four back-to-back Outstanding Comedy Series trophies. Many pundits see it as the one to beat.
Will it win? It’s a strong possibility, unless the Academy of Arts & Sciences decides this will be the year to break tradition.
Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
In its second season, Orange is the New Black became the must-binge series of the summer. Fans of the show — based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name — champion it for its predominantly female cast and crew, and the complex characters who inhabit its fictional New York women’s correctional facility. Its popularity has helped establish Netflix as a viable television production company, and the show is only gaining in fans and followers.
Why it could win: The ensemble cast is strong and the writing is bitingly funny. Plus, OITNB has momentum in the shape of a slew of recent accolades that could bolster its appeal to Academy voters.
Will it win? It’s pretty likely that the new darling of television comedy will pick up this year’s top prize.
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Mike Judge set the gold standard for workplace comedy with his 1999 cult classic film, Office Space. But last year, he set the bar a little higher with his new sitcom, Silicon Valley. It centers around a startup created by six friends. And if you’re in the tech industry — or you know someone who is — then the show will have you rolling on the ground with its true-to-life portrayal.
Why it could win: The Academy has always loved HBO shows, and this one has been called the network’s best and funniest comedies in years.
Will it win? Almost definitely not. It hasn’t reached the level of attention as many of the other nominees, which means it could be overlooked.
The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
About to begin its eighth season on the air, this modern sitcom follows five brilliant-but-awkward geniuses and their socially adept neighbor. It’s long been a fan favorite, last year ranking as the most-watched scripted program by the coveted 18-to-49 demographic. It has reinvigorated ’90s stars Johnny Galecki, Mayim Bialik, and Sara Gilberts’ careers, and made Jim Parsons one of the most recognizable faces on television. It’s even spawned a geek battle cry of sorts: “Bazinga!”
Why it could win: Though it’s been nominated for the Outstanding Comedy Series trophy numerous times and collected other Emmys along the way, it’s never taken home the prize. Emmy voters may decide it’s time to reward the show for its successful run.
Will it win? It could happen if voters want to shake things up but aren’t ready to reward a more cutting-edge show like Orange is the New Black.