Variety is the spice of life. And just like our Bloody Mary, we love it spicy! So today we continue our EMMY prognostications with a look at the Variety categories. We haven’t seen every episode of every series nominated, but we have sampled at least a little of all the shows in question. Getting to watch these shows is generally a perk. At this level they are all well written and generally fun to watch.
So pour a Bloody and get up to speed for a look at the Variety categories.
You Go Girls!
In Outstanding Variety Sketch Series, the nominees are At Home with Amy Sedaris, Drunk History, I Love You America with Sarah Silverman, Portlandia, Saturday Night Live, and Tracey Ullman’s Show.
This has been a year featuring an increased presence and stronger, louder voices from women, and the Variety categories showcase that (Tiffany Haddish has already won a EMMY for her guest spot on SNL). Between the venerable Ullman to Sedaris’ unique humor and the unpredictability of Silverman, it seems like this could be the time to shine for one of them.
But Saturday Night Live, which broke the mold 43 years ago and has proceeded to reconstruct it and break it over and over again in recent years, is the behemoth in the room.
It showcases political humor as well as delivering pointed social commentary.
But, you may ask as you freshen your Bloody with some more Stoli and a dash of tobasco, so do many of the other series. Yes, they do. However while each fills a certain niche brought to life by the title star’s voice, none do it as broadly as SNL. The ever-changing guest host gives increased versatility to a show with a diversely talented standing cast.
If you want to look for a dark horse, we suggest I Love You America with Sarah Silverman. Sarah has a great show, a recognizable name and fresh buzz about her.
Can We Talk
Moving on to Outstanding Variety Talk Series, the nominees are The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, The Late Late Show with James Corden, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
This is a tougher category to call. Four of the nominees are legacies of Jon Stewart; his successor Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, and John Oliver. Oliver’s won this category the last two years and could easily claim the statue to complete the trifecta. Noah does a fine job with The Daily Show, but even if it’s unfair, he’s always compared to Jon Stewart. Stewart was the king of this format and any host is going to pale in comparison.
As for the network guys, Colbert has honed his niche for skewering the administration on a nightly basis. Meanwhile, Corden is ‘the nice guy’ who sings with celebs. A nice respite from the borderline venom spewing from so many outlets. And Kimmel has upped his social commentary with thoughtful monologues when the occasion calls for them. Recently his ex, Sarah Silverman, lamented that she dated “Man Show” Jimmy and now his wife is married to “Woke” Jimmy.
They’re all making waves and impressions on their target audiences. But the fact is network guys, even in late night, just can’t (don’t/won’t) push the envelope as far as their cable brothers and sisters.
That said, we look for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee to take this category. Her show offers the only female perspective in this category, making for a unique and underappreciated point of view. Bee also had some controversy this year when she dropped the “c” word in describing a member of the First Family. That controversy, and the fact that many believe she was treated more harshly than a man would be treated for dropping the same word, could rally voters around her nomination. Artists love the opportunity to flip the bird to people in power.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
A Bloody Mary (we love symmetry to our posts). From olives to bacon, from oysters to anchovies, there are dozens of ingredients you can add. The varieties are endless, so it’s the perfect cocktail for the Variety category.