Emmys comedy race takes edgy turn as cable outnumbers networks

Thu Aug 21, 2014 7:34pm EDT
 
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When ABC's "Modern Family" vies for its fifth consecutive best comedy Emmy award on Monday, not only will it battle the beloved geeks of CBS' "The Big Bang Theory" but also a bunch of irreverent, foul-mouthed characters from cable and Netflix.

For the first time in Emmy history, networks are outnumbered by cable and online streaming outlets in the coveted best comedy series category, a sign of a growing appetite for comedy free from the confines of network TV.

"Modern Family" made waves when its contemporary family dynamic and gay couple appeared on Walt Disney Co's ABC in 2010. But today, along with CBS Corp's "The Big Bang Theory," it would be considered a safe choice for Emmy voters.

The network stalwarts are joined by two previous cable nominees: the dark and sometimes melancholy comedy "Louie" on Twenty-First Century Fox's basic cable FX, and HBO's "Veep," a political satire rich with curse words from U.S. Vice President Selina Meyer.

And then there are the newcomers, like HBO's technology satire, "Silicon Valley," where startup culture gets a dose of gross-out humor.

"In order to get people to love a show, you need to alienate some people, whereas network shows in general have a business model where they have to go for the middle," said Alec Berg, executive producer and writer for "Silicon Valley," nominated in its first season.

"They need to get the most people, but unfortunately that costs you the people who are super passionate."

The other new kid in the comedy race is "Orange Is the New Black," the darling of Netflix's original summer programming. The series is based on a real-life story about a women's prison, with situations that often stray far from laughs.   Continued...

 
The cast of the television series "Veep" arrives on the red carpet at the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, May 3, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst