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Emmy voters face a hilarious existential debate in best comedy series

In the Comedy Emmy competition, voters have to make a choice. Yes, literally they have to choose between Abbott Elementary and Bear and Barry and Ted Russo and others. But there is a more existential choice on the table: between optimism and cynicism.

On the one hand, Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso and ABC’s Abbott Elementary

etc. The show is about the essential goodness of people. In the former, nearly all staid Brits received an encouraging message from the Kansas coach; in the latter, nearly all staid Brits received an encouraging message from the Kansas coach. In the latter, Philadelphia teachers take care of children and each other while trying to fend off a charter school invasion that will make public education less equitable.

But on the other hand, you have HBO/Max’s Barry, which in its final season proved more than ever All the time, I believe that human beings are rotten to the core. Even the superficially lovable gangsters in Bill Hader’s dark narrative take morally reprehensible paths, and by the end, the message is creepier than ever.

Then there’s the option to walk somewhere in the middle, but tend to be skeptical of humanity. FX/Hulu’s The Bear finds its hero back in Chicago after his brother’s death with the idea of ​​running the family’s Italian beef shop like a Michelin-starred kitchen – and all cruelty. Even this year’s Prime Video’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” , with its flash-mob structure, addresses the fact that the eponymous comedian’s daughter resents her mother, who never seems to No real attention was paid. Talk about her kids.

Shrinking from Lasso Brett Goldstein and Bill Lawrence carry on the show’s “everyone is doing their best” spirit, with co-creator and star Jason Segel’s character trying to shake off depression after the death of his wife.

So what will prevail? Good vibes at Lasso or Abbott? Barry threat? Or bear grief?

If the past few Emmys are anything to go by, the Sweet Series reigns supreme. Lasso has won the past two titles in the first two seasons. Before that, Schitt’s Creek – another comedy with a community good idea in mind – triumphed.

Recent Emmy voters don’t always want their comedy to have no edge. In 2018, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s poisonous tongue And hornyFleabag took home the trophy, foul-mouthed political satireVeep kept the award for three years, The times are

and 2015. But as soon as Lasso appeared on the stage, the positive energy on his body was irresistible. Lasso follows the misadventures of an American football coach (played by co-creator Jason Sudeikis) hired to lead a football team in London, at every turn Both promote goodness. By the end of the run, nearly every possible antagonist — from boss Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) to one-time traitor Nate (Nick Muhammad) — is friends again.

However, this year the Lasso may be beaten. Its third — and likely final — season didn’t generate the same enthusiasm as its first two seasons. Meanwhile, Abbott Primary School , 2018 series The nominees and it’s now in its second season with rave reviews and might beat Lasso.

Janelle James as principal Ava Coleman in ABC’s Abbott Elementary.

Janelle James as Principal Ava Coleman on ABC show Abbott Elementary School .

by Gilles Mingasson /ABC offers 166220

Abbott Not as explicit a “be kind to one another” message as Lasso, but altruism is baked into its premise, and creator Quinta Brunson Brunson as Janine Teagues, a teacher at a public elementary school on a tight budget. Jenny may be the most naive of her co-workers when it comes to the limitations of their work, but they are all committed to the work they do, even when it is difficult. (Well, everyone except the headmaster, Ava, is hilariously portrayed by Janelle James. Even she shows up sometimes.) Abbott manages to be heartwarming without being tiresome, and also leads to genuine charity.

However, this year does feel like darkness is creeping in. Some of the competitors of Abbott and Lasso are not only more serious than funny, but also reflect a worldview: with those who believe The opposite of a series where only a few people can make a big difference.

Barry is the cruelest of the bunch. From 2018, Harder and Alec Berg’s show is a show about a A violent saga of a fallen assassin. Went into an acting class to take out a target and eventually fell in love with the craft. Throughout, there’s the lingering question: Can Barry’s soul be saved: Can show business make him less willing to take human life? The answer is ultimately “no,” and, most importantly, Harder and Berg bid farewell to their characters, freeing him — in a sense — from everything. They construct an unsettling ending in which the entertainment industry shapes a misleading narrative around Barry that’s so confusing you have to laugh.

Although it may not be as completely empty as Barry , Bear *ism*) is less a joke than a struggle with the grief of the protagonist Kami (Jeremy Allen White). He does end up willing to work with talented sous chef Sidney (Ayo Edbiri), but he can’t quite get over the culture of abuse at his restaurant or the pain of his brother’s suicide.

The question of whether The Bear should really be considered a comedy has been lingering in the game , but there are skeptics about it even in the Maisel full of yuk, it is in ‘s first season wins. Amid all the Amy Sherman-Palladino jokes, there’s also a look at how Mitch (Rachel Brosnahan) has struggled to succeed in his personal life, and being honest with Lennie Bruce’s (Luke Kirby) downward spiral. ), originally portrayed as the heroine’s guardian angel of comedy. Compared to Barry or Bear, Maisel is still is an easy choice), but not as sunny as Lasso or Abbott.

It’s easy to see why, in the age of coronavirus, hilarity reigns supreme in the comedy category, where the name of comedy means laughter. Viewers and voters are looking for something to lift them out of the global downturn. So maybe, now that the world has opened up, people are ready for a plan as brutal and ruthless as Barry . Or maybe they just wanted to reward the great teachers at Abbott Elementary .

This story first appeared in the June Independent issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe .



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