Emmy Picks: My Choices for Outstanding Writing


For the last entry in my Emmy picks, I’m doing the category most near and dear to my heart: outstanding writing. There were some truly well-crafted, touching, hilarious episodes of TV this round so let’s talk about them!

Comedy Series

Who should win:

Dan Harmon & Chris McKenna for “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” (Community)

This episode managed to pack in so many pay offs and feel like a perfect ending to this bizarre roller coaster of a show in a way I honestly didn’t think could ever be possible. All of the jokes and all of the details were perfect for each of these characters who the audience has become so attached to. They managed to do the big concept of imagining and re-imagining a seventh season over and over before getting back to reality and creating a quiet, grounded and emotional resonant end. There are so many great emotional moments in this episode, but the one that hit me hardest was the simplest. After dropping off Annie and Abed, the relative youngsters of the show, Jeff rejoins Britta, Craig, Frankie and Chang at the bar. It’s such a simple scene, just them smiling and joking but it was a quiet reminder of how much I’ve grown up with this show. Jeff realizing that you can’t make things be the way they were in college forever and happily taking his seat at the adult table was a perfect, understated moment. And the end tag was, of course, one of the weirdest things this show has ever done and fit it perfectly. People express their intense attachment to this show in different ways. For a lot of the audience, it’s a desperate desire for it to last forever, a desire that was acknowledged as valid in this episode. For others, we just want an ending that feels fitting and right and we got that with “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television.”

Who else should be nominated:

Michael Schur for “Leslie and Ron” (Parks and Recreation)

This episode was a nice exploration of the most central relationship of this show. As Leslie and Ron hashed out their feud, we got to see the full depths of their relationship and more vulnerability from Ron than we’d ever seen before.

Raphael Bob-Waksberg for “Later” (BoJack Horseman)

In its first season, BoJack Horseman defined itself as a show that would never do the expected thing. The episode previous to “Later” felt like a finale, but instead of ending there, they gave us this episode. It served as a jarring reminder that life keeps moving on and people keep waking up every day. The scene between BoJack and Diane was incredible. BoJack tells Diane he really wanted her to like her and her simple response of, “I know” flew in the face of every female character who’s written solely to make the male main character feel better about himself. This was a wonderful final chapter to a first season that defied all expectations.

Alec Berg for “Two Days of the Condor” (Silicon Valley)

This is one of the most tightly plotted sitcom episodes I’ve ever seen. Every twist was both surprising and an inevitable, organic result of who these characters are. This is the episode that gave us “is this a wheat beer? I can’t drink this without a lemon” as a major plot point.

Dan Goor for “Captain Peralta” (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

This episode benefited from a bit more emotional weight than most episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Jake spending time with his often mentioned but never before seen absentee dad was a great source of tension and emotional resonance. At the same time, the episode never suffered from tonal issues and found some great humor from the material.

Amy Harris for “Valerie is Brought to Her Knees” (The Comeback)

This was probably the most intense episode of The Comeback prior to the finale. Valerie has to act out a fantasy scene in Seeing Red where she gives a blow job to Paulie G. She’s obviously uncomfortable but tries to keep her usual chipper attitude. The quiet pay off with guest star Seth Rogen (who’s playing himself) helping her through the scene was such a surprising choice, where the writer chose to actually give Valerie a break, to great effect.

Drama Series

Who should win:

Stephen Falk for “You Also Have a Pizza” (Orange is the New Black)

This sweet, funny and earnest episode explored the idea of love as the inmates celebrate Valentine’s Day. This led to a beautiful scene between Lorna and Suzanne. The flashbacks focused on Poussey Washington, who was easily one of the best characters of season two.

Who else should be nominated:

Thomas Higgins for “Now Hear This” (The Fosters)

There was so much incredible character work in this episode. It had one of the biggest forward moves in the relationship between Jude and Connor, heartbreaking conflict between Mariana and Callie and Callie’s continued struggle with keeping secrets from Stef and Lena.

Kerry Ehrin for “Norma Louise” (Bates Motel)

This was a true stand out of Bates Motel‘s third season. Norma’s day spent away from home was a breaking point for both her and Norman. Meanwhile, Dylan and Emma emerged as stronger players in the story than they ever had been previously.

Rob Thomas & Diane Ruggiero for “Pilot” (iZombie)

This pilot worked incredibly well as a set up to the series, but it’s also a surprisingly good stand alone piece. It would have made an excellent short film all on its own. The way zombie-ism was used as a metaphor was incredibly powerful as we saw Liv’s heartbreaking scenes dealing with the family and friends she had drifted so far from. The moment when she visits Major’s house and sees him playing a zombie shooter was a perfect emotional scene.

Lee Daniels & Danny Strong for “Pilot” (Empire)

This pilot defined all of the characters in this ensemble with stunning efficiency. It’s not surprise that Cookie Lyon was an immediate break out character, instantly becoming one of the strongest characters on TV.

Nick Jones for “Low Self-Esteem City” (Orange is the New Black)

This was another standout episode in Orange is the New Black‘s generally excellent second season. The flashbacks gave us insight into Gloria Mendoza. Back in the present, there were strong scenes with Piper and the other inmates.


About Author

Pop Culture Spin Managing Editor Lenny Burnham is a writer/comedian in New York City. He hosts the podcast The Filmographers.

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