2011 Primetime Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Directing for Drama and Comedy Series

The 2011 Primetime Emmys are so close! September 18th to be exact. Up until the ceremony airs on FOX, I’ll be working through most of the major categories and discussing who could win, who should win and of course, who will win. I’ll likely be tackling two categories in each post, just so you know.

Let’s kick things off with the directing categories in both drama and comedy, shall we?

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series


  • Martin Scorsese, Boardwalk Empire, “Boardwalk Empire (Pilot)”
  • Jeremy Podeswa, Boardwalk Empire, “Anastasia”
  • Neil Jordan, The Borgais, “The Poisoned Chalice/The Assassin”
  • Tim Van Patten, Game of Thrones, “Winter Is Coming”
  • Patty Jenkins, The Killing, “Pilot”

What won’t happen: If I wanted to be completely boring – and probably smart – I could throw out four of these nominees and point to the one that just happens to be one of the most respected directors in the history of film, but I won’t do that yet. However, I do think that if we want to pretend that this is a race at all, it’s a three-person one. Jeremy Podeswa’s work is fine, but his Boardwalk Empire episode is going to be canceled out by the proximity to Martin Scorsese. He’s out. I don’t quite understand why Neil Jordan is nominated at all, especially when he got the nod over the likes of Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead) and Jennifer Getzinger (Mad Men). I know the voters love Showtime, but c’mon.

What could happen: Despite the hatred for the series and its showrunner, there’s a possibility that Emmy voters stayed charmed by the pilot episode of The Killing, which is pretty good. Patty Jenkins’ direction is one of the stronger elements of the episode, so I guess it’s possible. There’s also a somewhat strong possibility that Game of Thrones makes a surprise run at all the major awards, a situation that always leads to some run-off wins in directing and writing. If it’s a good night for Thrones, Tim Van Patten could absolutely walk away with this. He’s a known, respected quantity.

What should happen: No matter how I feel about the content of the episode, that Boardwalk Empire pilot is beautiful. I don’t really care for many of the nominees – I prefer the two snubs I mentioned earlier – so I’m totally fine with giving Marty an Emmy.

What will happen: I want to try to stay away from the “sure thing” proclamations since a few of last year’s obvious choices – sup, Julianna Margulies – didn’t walk away with the award. But if a sure thing exists, Marty is pretty much it. Voters are going to love Boardwalk Empire and they certainly love him. He wins.

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series


  • Pamela Fryman, How I Met Your Mother, “Subway Wars”
  • Michael Alan Spiller, Modern Family, “Halloween”
  • Gail Mancuso, Modern Family, “Slow Down Your Neighbors”
  • Steve Levitan, Modern Family, “See You Next Fall”
  • Beth McCarthy, 30 Rock, “Live Show”

What won’t happen: The comedy side of this category is much, much more interesting than its drama counterpart. Modern Family’s likely dominance in all comedy categories could very well continue here, but the three nominees for the series make things a bit murky to predict. Outside of Family, we have two multi-camera episodes, one from a respected director who certainly deserved a nomination (Pamela Fryman) and the other from a series that’s not typically shot in the multi-camera style (30 Rock’s live episode). 30 Rock’s had tons of success in all the major categories but directing and I’m not sure the novelty of the live show puts the veteran NBC series any closer to victory. Fryman’s a well-respected multi-camera director, but I have a little factoid for you: A multi-camera comedy hasn’t won in this category since Thomas Schlamme’s work on Sports Night in 1999. That’s a long time. Taken together, these things don’t bode well for Fryman or Beth McCarthy’s work on the 30 Rock live episode. It seems like they’re out of the race.

What could happen: Any of the Modern Family directors have a chance in this race. “Halloween” is the quote-unquote best episode of the three and Michael Spiller has the respectable journeyman kind of history that I’d like to see win (and I’d also like to know why he wasn’t nominated for the very awesome “Manny Get Your Gun”). Steve Levitan is obviously the biggest name of the bunch and I remember folks liking “See You Next Fall,” especially when compared with the fairly rote “Slow Down Your Neighbors.” But who knows, Gail Mancuso could win as well.

What should happen: I’m not the biggest Modern Family fan, so I’ll throw some love to Pamela Fryman. She’s directed almost every single episode of HIMYM and done a wonderful job all along the way. Compared to most of the series’ episodes, “Subway Wars” is more complicated and therefore probably more challenging for the director. It’s awesome, Fryman is awesome, so yay!

What will happen: A Modern Family director definitely takes this one, it’s just a matter of which name to pick. I’m going to say that Spiller takes it. He’s directed all sorts of good stuff and handled most of Modern Family’s season two episodes. If the series has to win, it should and probably will go to him.


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