Emmys: 12 Drama and Comedy Writer Contenders to Watch

6:07 PM PST 06/21/2011 by Stacey Wilson
David Livingston/Getty Images
Chuck Lorre

This year's pool of Emmy-worthy scribes is a refreshing mishmash of big names, upstarts and 2011's most famous showrunner.

With 30 Rock's Tina Fey being one of the few female winners to emerge in the past five years, the fact that nearly half of THR's early picks for writing-award contenders are women is exciting. There are not only newer women writers contending alongside Fey in comedy, but also in the normally ultra-male drama series category. Add to these changes that network and cable shows are almost neck-and-neck this season, and there could be some big surprises on Emmy night. Here are 12 standout contenders and the reasons why their submitted episodes are in the race.

COMEDY SERIES

Greg Daniels
"Goodbye, Michael" (The Office)
The year's most-watched comedy series finale also saw the departure of Steve Carell, a bittersweet zeitgeist moment.

VIDEO: Emmy Roundtable: Comedy Showrunners

Brad Falchuk
"Born This Way" (Glee)
Writing a Lady Gaga-themed episode could have become a preachy mess, yet this one achieved the perfect pop-music/life-lesson balance.

Darlene Hunt
"The Pilot" (The Big C)
TV's first cancer-themed comedy series kicked off flawlessly in this pitch-perfect portrait of a regular gal who decides to laugh in fate's face.

VIDEO: Emmy Roundtable: Drama Showrunners

Emily Kapnek
"Ron & Tammy: Part Two" (Parks and Recreation)
Real-life couple Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman reunite (again) onscreen for a second round of dysfunctional lust.

Abraham Higginbotham
"The Kiss" (Modern Family)
The buildup to Cam and Mitchell's first onscreen smooch was handled like everything on Family: deftly and hilariously avoiding cliche.

PHOTOS: Emmys: On the Set of 'Modern Family'

Chuck Lorre
"The Agreement Dissection" (The Big Bang Theory)
Six people total are credited with writing this episode where Sheldon nerds his way through girls' night out.

DRAMA SERIES

Wendy Calhoun
"For Blood or Money" (Justified)
A break from the cowboy-hero format was Calhoun's heart-wrenching look at a father's desperate attempt at redemption.

PHOTOS: 'Justified': Behind the Scenes

Michelle King
"VIP Treatment" (The Good Wife)
A night-in-the-life format lends a rare intensity to King's ripped-from-the-headlines sexual-harassment plot.

Erin Levy
"The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" (Mad Men)
Matt Weiner protege Levy won the WGA Award for her impeccable script about Japanese culture, therapy and divorce.

Tucker Cawley
"Let the Sunshine In" (Men of a Certain Age)
Colonoscopies have never been funnier or more poignant than through the eyes of co-creator and star Ray Romano.

John Wells
"Pilot" (Shameless)
The TV vet adapted the British series so flawlessly, the script feels as untamed as the original. Wells' grip on realism shines through his young actors.

Terence Winter
"A Return to Normalcy" (Boardwalk Empire)
Steve Buscemi finally unleashes Nucky Thompson's tragic backstory in the series' hyperviolent season finale.

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