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Awards Season

7 New TV Comedies for Your Emmy Consideration

7 New TV Comedies for Your Emmy Consideration
Photo Source: Anne Marie Fox/HBO

“Atlanta” (FX)
Like the invisible car on “The Club” episode of this freshman series, fans watched actor-turned-rapper Donald Glover’s first foray into TV showrunning and didn’t know what hit them. From its astute commentary on the fetishization of black culture to the embrace of its namesake city’s eccentric inhabitants, “Atlanta” does doughnuts around the competition. The series manages to bring levity to the very real struggles of a working-class black man trying to keep his head above water—with surreal moments, which, in addition to that invisible vehicle, include a magical, glowing box of chicken and a show-within-a-show, complete with spoof commercials that address misogyny in rap lyrics. The series won Golden Globes for best comedy and best actor; while the Globes are known for rewarding newcomers, the TV Academy would be remiss to leave Glover’s whip-smart comedy and its brilliant cast off their lists. —Briana Rodriguez

“Divorce” (HBO)
For better or worse, richer or poorer, Sarah Jessica Parker’s turn on “Divorce” seems like a natural—albeit much bleaker—progression of Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex and the City,” the character she made so famous on HBO years ago. As Frances, one-half of a loveless marriage, Parker’s frustration and ennui are apparent minutes into the pilot. Episode after episode (all of which were written by the hilarious Sharon Horgan of “Catastrophe”), it seems Frances and Robert (Thomas Haden Church), her soon-to-be-ex-husband and a failed contractor who has lost most of their money, are about to crest the hill of hatred and be civil for the sake of their kids, friends, and pet snake. But as the dramedy’s title implies, this is a show about a failing marriage, and divorce is messy. Just like any good mess, it’s impossible to look away. —Allie White

“I Love Dick” (Amazon)
In the midst of her ongoing “Transparent” success with Amazon, Jill Soloway has debuted another series on the streaming platform that appears poised to carry the mantle of prestige with similarly dark comedy. “I Love Dick,” an adaptation of the Chris Kraus–penned novel that examines psychosexual obsession and its implications for a relationship, boosts Soloway’s creative prowess. She’s unafraid to make the kind of stylistic choices that run the risk of polarization but that, when executed with dexterity, can powerfully elevate the storytelling. Kevin Bacon as the titular Dick is scrumptious and enigmatic, and Griffin Dunne is wonderfully pitiful as his antagonized foil. Perhaps most significant, though, is this series’ potential, after so many years of MVP periphery work, to propel Kathryn Hahn to the leading lady stardom of which she’s always been worthy. —Casey Mink

“Insecure” (HBO)
In the last several years, 20-something-centered auteur projects have proliferated in the television landscape, yet Issa Rae’s “Insecure” has risen meteorically to the top due to its freshness and unrelenting audacity. Loosely based on Rae’s precursor web series, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” the Larry Wilmore co-creation depicts life in Los Angeles for Issa, played with blundering perfection by Rae. Although you constantly feel compelled to grab Issa by the shoulders to swivel her away from an impending bad decision, you never once lose empathy for the not-so-indefatigable heroine. Featuring as-wonderful supporting performances by Yvonne Orji as Issa’s unlucky-in-love best pal and Jay Ellis as her forlorn boyfriend, the HBO comedy has after just one season solidified its status among the finest offerings of TV’s ongoing golden age. —CM

“Lady Dynamite” (Netflix)
Maria Bamford’s brand of humor has always found the bittersweet spot between surreal absurdity, pitch-black personal comedy, and slapstick fun. “Lady Dynamite” is the result of this veteran comedy mixologist standing at the height of her powers. Ultimately a semiautobiographical account of Bamford’s experience in Hollywood while suffering from bipolar disorder (bits are directly inspired by her time in various mental hospitals in Minnesota, her home state), the Netflix series from co-creators Mitchell Hurwitz (“Arrested Development”) and Pam Brady (“South Park”) pulls no punches in showing the darkness (and hilarity) in losing control of oneself. The titular lady bares all and is bolstered by assists from Fred Melamed, who plays her manager, and Ana Gasteyer, who plays her agent, along with guest appearances by Jenny Slate, June Diane Raphael, Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, and more. Bamford commands major respect within L.A.’s inner comedy circles; with “Lady Dynamite,” she’s earned ours and then some. —Benjamin Lindsay

 

“The Mick” (FOX)
Prestige TV “The Mick” is not, but that’s precisely what makes it so fun. With her gift for physical, sometimes gross, comedy, Kaitlin Olson breathes new life into the well-worn “woman behaving badly” trope as Mackenzie “Mickey” Murphy, a hot mess of a woman left to care for her wealthy sister’s three kids after she and their father flee the country to escape tax fraud charges. With the help of the family’s housekeeper (Carla Jimenez, who turns Alba into so much more than just another Latina actor relegated to a uniform) and the “help” of her not-boyfriend, Jimmy (Scott MacArthur), the family navigates everything from golf course snubs to birth control to pyromania to a DIY oral surgery. Ridiculous? Yes. But it’s the ridiculousness of it all that makes it work for a delightfully dreadful 30 minutes of TV. —AW

“Search Party” (TBS)
“The pleasure lies not in discovering the truth, but in searching for it.” Tolstoy said it first, but the characters in this sleeper hit series live it—down to discovering a clue in a copy of “Anna Karenina” that highlights the phrase. A grab bag of indie comedy, film noir, and searing social commentary, TBS’ “Search Party” is satire for the selfie set, a takedown of the notion that a mystery can be neatly solved, Nancy Drew–style, if you keep plugging away at it. From executive producer Michael Showalter and creators Sarah Violet-Bliss and Charles Rogers, this dark comedy follows Dory (Alia Shawkat), a shiftless New York City millennial attempting to bring meaning to her life. When a college acquaintance she only vaguely remembers disappears, Dory becomes obsessed with finding her. Hilariously supported by a cast of millennial miscreants, “Search Party” takes on the quarter-life existential crisis and totally loses the plot—in the best possible way. —Rawaan Alkhatib

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