Emmys Directing: Multi-Hyphenates Rule Comedy Series, Female Drama Helmers Give Ground After 2017 Breakthrough


“I want to thank me for hiring me as a director when no one else would,” Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan quipped when accepting the 2012 Emmy Award for directing an episode of the Emmy-winning series. Two years before that, Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy had started the trend of creators winning the comedy series directing Emmy for helming episodes of their shows. In the eight years since 2010, creators have won the directing for a comedy series category five times, including the last three years, Transparents Jill Soloway (2015, 2016) and Atlantas Donald Glover (Atlanta).

Louis CK took the concept of multi-hyphenated creator to a new level with seven Emmy nominations in 2015 — four for his FX series Louie — lead actor in a comedy series, writing, directing and executive producing the best comedy series-nominated show — as well as a guest actor in a comedy series nom for guest hosting Saturday Night Live, and two noms for vis comedy special.

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Glover and SNL alum Bill Hader are carrying the torch this year, matching the same five series nominations CK got in 2015 for their series — FXs Atlanta and HBOs Barry, respectively, both best comedy series nominees — and for each hosting SNL.

In fact, four of the six nominees for comedy series directing this year are the shows creators/co-creators, Glover for Atlanta, Hader for Barry, Amy Sherman Palladino for Amazons The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Mike Judge for HBOs Silicon Valley. (The other two nominees are Hiro Murai for Atlanta and Jesse Peretz for GLOW).


On the Emmy drama directing side, we have a letdown after a banner 2017 for female directors. Last year, three women — tied as the most ever — were nominated for drama series directing, Kate Dennis and Reed Morano for Handmaids Tale and Lesli Linka Glatter for Homeland.

At the September Emmy ceremony, Morano won, becoming only the third woman ever to top the category — and the first in 22 years — after Karen Arthur won for Cagney & Lacey in 1985 and Mimi Leader for ER in 1995.

But, despite major advances for female drama directors over the past year, including a major breakthrough during broadcast pilot season and a strong showing at the upfronts where they outperformed their male counterparts, they have given up the Emmy gains from last year.

There is only one woman among the six nominees in the directing for a drama series category — The Handmaids Tales Kari Skogland. She is joined by Ozarks Jason Bateman and Daniel Sackheim, Stranger Things Duffer Brothers, Game of Thrones Alan Taylor and Jeremy Podeswa and The Crowns Stephen Daldry.

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