In the days leading up to the 2019 Emmy Awards, we're pitting the 26 shows with the most nominations against each other to determine Primetimer readers' favorite Emmy-nominated series of the year. Full details in our kick-off post.
We have arrived at the semifinals, and lo and behold, our Final Four are all Outstanding Comedy Series nominees! This seems fitting, as (a) 2019 was a phenomenal year for good, creative, highly inventive and also hilarious comedy, and (b) the 2019 Emmys did an uncommonly excellent job of nominating the right shows at the right time. The four series that stand atop our Emmys bracket represent the most loved and admired of that crop of comedies. And while not all of them are being touted as frontrunners to win Emmy gold, they've clearly got a lot of loud support from Primetimer readers.
(Seed number appears before show title)
Network: Amazon Prime
Nominations: 11, including Outstanding Comedy Series
Let’s raise a Marks & Spencer’s pre-mixed gin and tonic can to Phoebe Waller-Bridge for the triumphant second season of Fleabag, which somehow managed to be perfect from start to finish. After dominating at the TCA Awards last month, can Phoebe Waller-Bridge replicate that success at the Emmys? In the acting categories, she's joined by recent Oscar-winner Olivia Colman (who is looking to add to her EGOT tally), scene-stealer Sian Clifford as Fleabag's sister, as well as Fiona Shaw and Kristin Scott Thomas in the guest category. The (Hot) Priest (Andrew Scott) told us this love would pass. I’m not sure he is right. -- Emma Fraser
Nominations: 4, including Outstanding Comedy Series
Nominees Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara have previously only won Emmys for writing (both for SCTV), but now they're both recognized for their roles as Johnny and Moira Rose. Awards is Moira’s favorite season, and while her movie The Crows Have Eyes III: The Crowening got unceremoniously shelved at the end of the season, O’Hara could win for this role within a role. Despite the failed comeback for the Rose matriarch, Season 5 features a number of personal triumphs, not to mention a Bob Fosse-worthy production of Cabaret. -- Emma Fraser
The Matchup: After besting Sharp Objects, in the quarterfinals, Fleabag now has to deal with the cult fandom of Schitt's Creek, which scored an upset win over the previously unbeatable Killing Eve. That's right, not even Villanelle could lay a finger on the Rose family, fragile though they may seem. These two shows just might be the comedies of the current moment, both straddling the line between their network-TV origins. Fleabag was produced for the BBC's digital platform, then carried over here by Amazon, while Schitt's Creek aired in Canada, before showing up on obscure cable channel Pop, only to be given its widest platform of all on Netflix. Of the two, Fleabag has more snob appeal (British vs. Canadian, after all), but you underestimate the lovability of the Rose clan at your own peril.
Vote now for who should advance to The Finals:
Primetimer Ultimate Emmys Bracket Semifinal 1— Primetimer (@primetimercom) September 19, 2019
'Fleabag' vs. 'Schitt's Creek'
Nominations: 13, including Outstanding Comedy Series
Netflix’s riff on Groundhog Day — game developer dies, then comes back during her 36th birthday party at the exact same time over and over again — was a big winner on Emmy nomination morning. The series got 13 nominations (high for a freshman series), including a nod for Natasha Lyonne’s tour-de-force lead performance as Nadia Vulvokov. The former Orange Is the New Black star was also nominated for co-writing the pilot. It’s a major coup for such a young series, and it gives Netflix a foothold in the Comedy Series category. You have to wonder, though: If it wins, will Lyonne keep giving her acceptance speech over and over? -- Kevin O'Keeffe
The Good Place
Nominations: 5, including Outstanding Comedy Series
After three seasons of lovable characters, ethical philosophy, bonkers comedy, and wild twists of plot, NBC's fervently beloved comedy series got its first Emmy nod for Best Comedy. Having just aired its most ambitious season, the show presents a double-edged sword for Emmy voters: its spotlight episodes are knockouts, but you'll need a whole lot of context to jump right in.
The Matchup: Two high-concept comedies face off in the second semi-final, though their respective moods could not be more diametrically opposed. Still, it's wild that we have two separate takes on the Kafka-esque afterlife. One a repetitive nightmare with a puzzle at the center to be solved. The other a cheery clearing house where ethical philosophy lessons make us better in death than we were in life. Hi, it's 2019, we all think we're going to die, and we're trying to make the best of it! As for which of these creative visions of life beyond death appeals to you, it might just come down to your appreciation of Natasha Lyonne's star turn in Russian Doll versus the A+ ensemble at the heart of The Good Place. It's going to be a very tough choice.
Vote now for who should advance to The Finals:
Primetimer Ultimate Emmys Bracket Semifinal 2— Primetimer (@primetimercom) September 19, 2019
'Russian Doll' vs 'The Good Place'
Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.