6 Comedies That Won Emmys (And Didn’t Deserve It)
Emmy voters are apparently just like the great unwashed masses of TV land -- they love them some Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. But that doesn’t make those voters right! Sitcom fans have every reason to shake their collective comedy fist at Emmy sins ranging from no nominations for Freaks and Geeks or Party Down to Family Guy getting a Best Comedy nod over The Simpsons to nominating Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander seven dang times for playing George without a single trophy to show for it. Think that’s the worst of it? Here are six more times Emmy voters royally screwed up on the comedy front.
1992: A Claymation Easter
Hey, we like Claymation as much as the next guy (those California Raisins showed Motown a thing or two, eh?) But there’s no earthly reason A Claymation Easter should have won Outstanding Animated Program in 1992, not when you realize it beat out season three of The Simpsons and iconic episode Radio Bart. We were early enough in the Simpsons golden years that Matt Groening was still contributing (the episode’s premise was his idea), but it just goes to show you--you can send your love down the well, but that doesn’t guarantee you Emmy affection.
Maybe this was the gods punishing Bart for his Timmy O’Toole prank. At the end of the day, it’s never good karma to deceive Sting.
2012: Jon Cryer for Two And a Half Men
For the record, we think Jon Cryer is a righteous dude. We’re still ticked off that Molly Ringwald chose that rich preppie a-hole over Duckie. But come on, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy? Not in 2012. And never for Two and a Half Men.
The enduring mediocrity of the long-running sitcom was only half of the confusion. Cryer’s Alex Harper, basically a milquetoast second banana to Charlie Sheen’s peacocking Charlie, beat out a murderers’ row of comic talents, including Steve Carell (more on him later), Alec Baldwin, Larry David, and a pre-controversy Louis C.K. Google “worst Emmy win ever” and you’ll see we’re not alone on this.
Cryer’s win came in the year following Sheen’s historic public meltdown, a hot mess of rehab and tiger blood. Perhaps the award was simply the voters’ way of saying, “dude, we don’t know how you put up with all that hashtag-winning.”
2010-2014: Modern Family
Sometimes Emmy voters are just freaking lazy. Why bother watching six or seven shows when you can tick the box next to the comedy that won last year? It must be good since we voted for it before! This lackadaisical brand of voting lethargy took hold in the 1990s when Frasier took home the prize five years running. Dr. Crane and his neurotic friends were funny enough, but not five-years-in-a-row funny.
But voters were back at it again in the 2010s, reflexively voting for Modern Family for five straight seasons in the face of incredible competition, including Louie, Veep, Silicon Valley, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The Office. Should Modern Family have snagged an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series? Sure, maybe one or two, but voters didn’t need to essentially rename the award in its honor.
This is as good a time as any to lament that Parks and Rec never got its comedy Emmy due. Like fellow Mike Schur show The Good Place, it occasionally got invited to the party but never came home with a prize. Watch an episode of Parks followed by a Modern Family and tell us which one makes you laugh more. We’ll wait.
1993: Murphy Brown
The smug, intermittently funny Murphy Brown was another one of those automatic Emmy nominations in the 1990s, getting a nod for each of its first five seasons and picking up two victories.
But with a series win already under its belt, what were Emmy voters thinking when they gave the award to Brown over season three of Seinfeld, the year in which the show became a comedy juggernaut and, arguably, the defining sitcom of the 1990s?
The indignities didn’t stop there -- both Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander were nominated for 1993 comedy acting awards, losing to Craig T. Nelson for Coach and Michael Jeter for Evening Shade. Raise your hand if you’ve seen a single episode of either show. And don’t bother trying to find them on streaming unless you’ve got a Roku with a lot of obscure apps to download.
2010: Edie Falco for Nurse Jackie
Hey, Edie Falco is an amazing actress! She kicked ass on The Sopranos and Nurse Jackie! Both of which were dramas! What the heck, Emmy voters?
Should Falco have won in 2010 over Glee’s phonics-challenged Lea Michele? Sure. But over 30 Rock’s Tina Fey or Parks and Recreation’s Amy Poehler? No way. Especially when you consider that Poehler never took home the prize for her classic character Leslie Knope. Injustice, we say!
What did the Emmys have against Parks and Rec anyway? In addition to the lack of trophies for Poehler and the show itself, can we take a moment to lament that Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson was never even nominated? We would have given a nod for the mustache alone. Injustice, we say!
2011: Jim Parsons for Big Bang Theory
OK, Big Bang stans, we’ll throw you a bone. While the show isn’t our cup of tea, we don’t mind that Jim Parsons has taken home a trophy for his portrayal of Old Sheldon.
But did he deserve four of them? We say no, especially considering that Parsons’ 2011 statue came at the expense of Steve Carell’s heartfelt farewell as The Office’s Michael Scott. In fact, Carell won a grand total of zero Emmy comedy awards for The Office, despite Scott arguably being the most enduring sitcom character of the century.
His Office mates weren’t pleased.