Will "Modern Family" win an Emmy for best comedy at the 67th annual Emmys this Sunday?
Here's the math: If "Modern Family" does win an Emmy, that will be six in a row, breaking the tie with "Frasier," and becoming -- in one mighty whoosh -- the most celebrated comedy in TV history.
Nothing -- not "Seinfeld," not "Cheers," not "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," not "All in the Family" won six.
Only "Modern Family," standing there alone...
This week, I want to take a look at a few key races, and how the new rules affecting this year's awards season just might mean a whole new Emmys on Sunday -- one with upsets, and surprises, and maybe even one or two "OMGs." (OK, let's not get carried away. This is a post about the Emmys).
I begin today with "Modern Family" because more any than any other series, this is the one that has come to represent the conundrum of the 21st century Emmys telecast: A great series that just won't stop winning. It has eviscerated the best comedy category. It is the unofficial rubber stamp of the Emmy awards. When the name is called -- as it has been -- in the closing minutes of the last five telecasts, people in the audience are already getting up out of their seats. You can almost hear the audible and collective sigh: "We know it's won again..."
In some sense, the rule changes are -- I suspect -- designed to derail this locomotive once and for all. Not that the Emmys are tired of the Dunphys -- just that the Emmys want someone else up there on the stage.
Will "Modern Family" win this Sunday? Let's sort out the issues.
First of all, consecutive wins in both the drama and comedy category are as old as the awards themselves. "I Love Lucy" got two in a row in the early years, then "The Phil Silvers Show" went on a run. This is perfectly natural. Good shows are good shows. There's no reason for them to be less good the following year (and consistency is in fact a key component of quality) so no reason for Emmy voters to disavow their earlier choices.
But the Emmy voting process has been locked into place for some years too. Simply put, Emmy voters -- 20,000-plus now -- cast ballots and top shows are selected. Those then go to a "blue ribbon panel" comprised of a couple dozen voters who select the winner.
Before you declare that undemocratic, consider that the U.S. presidential process is not all that dissimilar. Electoral votes are proxies for voters. The blue ribbon panels are proxies for Emmy voters.
But this year, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences dumped the panels. Winners Sunday will be chosen by the full voting body. Yes,that is a huge change. Even revolutionary.
Back to "Modern Family." This season, the show submitted six episodes for Emmy consideration -- "Closet? You'll Love It," "Connection Lost," "Spring Break," "Marco Polo," "American Skyper," and "The Day We Almost Died." Upon these episodes, a great record depends...
I have seen three of these -- "Spring Break," "Marco Polo" and "The Day We Almost Died" -- and don't remember the other three, but am sure they were fine.
There's a pattern in many comedies. They start off strong, and gradually diminish -- as the vein of ore is mined out, the ideas dry up, or the producers get better paying gigs elsewhere. (Jeff Morton, for example, one of the true guiding forces of "MF" left this year for his own new sitcom, "Life in Pieces").
But my sense with "Family" is that it has not diminished -- but has remained vital, and above all funny. Of course, opinions may vary and always do (The fifth season wasn't as good as the fourth, perhaps, or the 4th as good as the first...and so on).
The sixth wobbled at first ("The Long Honeymoon?" Meh), but pretty quickly gained its stride. By "Marco Polo" (the 5th episode of the season) it was at full sprint. By "The Day We Almost Died," the first episode of the new year, it was in full "Family" form.
"Died" in fact was the perfect "Modern Family" episode -- a brilliant farce that inverted every Dunphy fantasy and bucket list item (and nearly killed a roller-skating Mitchell in the process). If the blue ribbon panel was to watch only this one episode, then " Family" would be secured a sixth win.
But the panels are gone. It's up to the 20,000 voters. What will they do?
Here are the other shows "Family" is up against:
"Louie:" An FX classic which should have won by now, but -- as you know -- has not.
"Silicon Valley:" HBO sophomore that is one of the smartest shows on TV, and "smart" in an unexpected way, for it comically explores that which has devoured us all -- tech.
"Transparent:" One of TV's (or the streaming world's) the most original comedies, with a performance by Jeffrey Tambor that is touching, melancholy and hilarious.
"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt:" Starring Ellie Kemper, who may be the funniest woman on TV right now.
"Veep:" Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has already won her share of Emmys for this, but it's certainly high time the rest of the extraordinary cast share in the glory.
"Parks and Recreation:" A true classic that not only grew in complexity over seven seasons but grew in depth, intelligence, humor, character and -- most of all -- love.
So, you've made it to the end of this post, and want an answer.
Will "Modern Family" win a 6th Emmy Sunday?
It's a close one, friends.
I may be wrong (or may be right).
But decisions must be made, answers rendered.
My final answer must be...
"Parks and Rec" will win. Or should win.
Left to the voters, "Family's" glorious run comes to an end because voters -- as they tend to do -- will decide that it's time for someone else.
Best of all, this "someone else" is overdue.