Critic's Notebook: Why 'Key & Peele' Deserves an Emmy Nod for Its Final Season

The sketch series category is in its second year as the Comedy Central favorite (and repeat nominee) competes for the gold with boundary-pushing skits like "Negrotown."
Danny Feld/Comedy Central
'Key and Peele'

Good thing the outstanding variety sketch series expanded from five to six contenders this year because otherwise the narrative would have been one of relative boredom, as Inside Amy Schumer, Drunk History, Key & Peele, Portlandia and Saturday Night Live all are repeat nominees.

The category's newcomer is Documentary Now!, and even this IFC comedy isn't exactly an outlier, given that it's the third offering in this category from Lorne Michaels' Broadway Video and features SNL veterans Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and Seth Meyers as creators. Last year's narrative was about the huge breakthrough for Inside Amy Schumer and its star — and the biggest question was whether Schumer also would score a win for comedy lead actress. She didn't, but her show did win variety sketch series honors (and the song "Girl You Don't Need Makeup" scored a Creative Arts Emmy). The heat isn't as intense after a fourth season filled with great moments but lacking a "12 Angry Men"-style game-changer.

Will that be enough for a repeat or will Key & Peele sneak in and win for its final season? So far, Key & Peele has won zero Emmys, and it would be a shame if the boundary-pushing Comedy Central favorite didn't add to that number, though it's already a shame that the showstopping "Negrotown" musical number from the series finale wasn't nominated in any way. Though maybe the biggest shame of all would be the elevation of a season of limited peaks and Trump-shaped valleys for SNL.

This story first appeared in the Aug. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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