YA and Middle-Grade Books as Emmy-Nominated Comedy Series


After the Emmy awards took place last week, the buzz surrounding the nominated television shows, casts, and crews has only amplified. Every Emmy nominee is deserving of recognition and praise, especially amidst the conflicts and struggles that have plagued the television industry this year. With that being said, the category for best comedy series was especially stacked this year, with shows and characters that explored a diverse range of subjects, both light and difficult, with humor and care. In the same way that these shows were able to convey subjects in an appealing way to national audiences, so too are books able to capture the attention and love of readers. To celebrate both this award season’s nominees and a variety of excellent books, here is a list of middle grade and YA books as Emmy nominees in the category of Outstanding Comedy Series.

Abbott Elementary as Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea     

Buyea’s novel follows a group of seventh grade students, each with their own struggles and goals, led and inspired by their teacher, Mr. Terupt. Throughout the novel, Mr. Terupt works to make his classroom a safe space conducive to their learning and personal growth. When a terrifying accident occurs one fateful wintry day, the ramifications change the trajectory of the lives of everyone in the classroom, and it quickly becomes evident that Mr. Terupt’s influence on his students will last far beyond just the seventh grade.
Because of Mr. Terupt and Abbott Elementary emphasize the importance of educators and their power to change lives. Like Mr. Terupt, the teachers at Abbott Elementary are dedicated to being a force for good in the lives of their students. While the show takes a more comedic approach to teaching, the core messages and overall uplifting tone are remarkably similar.

Jury Duty as The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Evelyn Hardcastle cannot escape death. At a party at the wealthy Hardcastle’s estate, she is doomed to die every night in a Groundhog Day-esque loop unless protagonist Aiden Bishop can somehow find her killer. Bishop has eight days to solve her murder, and the opportunity to experience the party through the perspectives of eight different guests. To add to the pressure of his situation, Bishop can only escape the manor once he finds Evelyn’s killer. Full of suspense and surprise twists, this novel will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last reveal.

While Jury Duty is no crime thriller, parallels can be drawn between the stories of Aiden Bishop and the unsuspecting Ronald Gladden, who finds himself serving on what (unbeknownst to him) is a fake jury for a fake trial. Both protagonists are asked to analyze a case in which the people around them seem to know far more than they do. Jury Duty and Turton’s novel both contain a diverse (and at times quite zany) ensemble cast that make the storylines all the more compelling. Albeit told in different tones, these narratives are full of exciting surprises and entertaining characters sure to draw in anyone who chooses to read or watch. 

The Bear as Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet follows Penelope Prado, a teenage girl with dreams to open a pastelería next to her father’s taco shop. However, her parents have different hopes for Penelope’s future, ones that cause her to question the trajectory of her life. When she meets Xander, an employee at the family restaurant, the two establish a powerful connection, and together begin to navigate their identities, the expectations placed upon them, and their own hopes and dreams. 

FX’s hit show The Bear and Kemp’s powerful novel both speak to the power of food to bring people together and explore the familial ties inherent in cooking. Just like Carmy, Sydney and the rest of The Bear family use cooking as a means of self-discovery, so too do Xander and Penelope navigate issues in their lives through the unifying power of food. 

Wednesday as Truly, Devious by Maureen Johnson

Truly, Devious tells the story of Stevie Bell, a freshman at Ellingham Academy, a private school in Vermont renowned for its collection of creative minds. A lover of all things true crime, Stevie is determined to solve the cold case that made Ellingham Academy infamous: the kidnapping of the founder’s wife and daughter. However, as Stevie begins to re-examine this mystery, something startling occurs: the kidnapper of decades ago returns to Ellingham, and murder once again takes place on the campus grounds. 

Boarding school, drama, intrigue, and a side of romance; what else could you want from a book or show? Both Wednesday and Truly, Devious follow eccentric female protagonists navigating mysteries at their respective schools, aided (and often hindered) by the peculiar crew of characters that surround them. With a similar generation-spanning mystery plot, Truly, Devious is the perfect read for fans of Wednesday.

Ted Lasso as Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Anxious People starts with a failed bank robbery, and from there transforms into a heartwarming novel full of twists and turns. An open house attended by a cast of eclectic characters quickly turns into a hostage situation when an unsuccessful bank robber enters the scene. Through character interactions, Backman delicately (and often humorously) explores themes of loss, grief, family, love, and empathy. Anxious People is full of heartfelt moments, unexpected twists, and beautiful prose that ties different elements and characters together.  

Backman’s novel captures the same quirky and earnest spirit that is at the heart of Ted Lasso. Both narratives bring together groups of people who, on the outside, seem to have nothing in common but who eventually grow to rely on, support, and love each other. The sentimentality and themes of shared humanity and empathy present in both works make them all the more powerful. 

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

After a traumatic experience in her role working at UCLA, chemist Elizabeth Zott transfers to Hastings Research Institute, where she faces 1960’s patriarchal systems meant to confine her to certain stereotypically feminine roles. However, after she meets and falls for chemist Calvin Evans, her life suddenly changes, and years later, Elizabeth Zott finds herself a single mother and star of a popular cooking show. Amidst the ups and downs that led her to this stardom, as well as the events that follow, Zott maintains a strong and sincere sense of identity that she works to instill into her daughter, and the large audience of women who watch her show. 

Both Lessons in Chemistry and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel explore heavy topics of sexism, motherhood, and overcoming adversity with grace and humor. Much like Miriam Maisel, Elizabeth Zott is fiercely funny, independent, and brilliant. The emphasis on strong female voices in both of these works makes for an empowering read and watch. 

Barry as Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass is the first installment of the hit series by Sarah J. Maas that follows the life and adventures of Celaena Sardothien, an assassin in the Kingdom of Adarlan. After enduring a year in a cruel prison work camp, Celaena is summoned to the castle to compete for a chance to earn the role as “King’s Champion,” serving the crown for four years until eventually gaining her freedom. During her time at the castle, Celaena is drawn to both the Crown Prince and the captain of the royal guard, and becomes involved in a web of secrets and mysteries surrounding Ardalan that threaten the entire kingdom. All the while, Celaena is keeping her own massive secret, hiding her true identity from even the people closest to her. 

While likely directed toward different audiences, both Barry and Throne of Glass explore the life of an assassin trying to fit into a new world and, in the process, escape their old self. The protagonists of both stories express desires to grow, moving beyond their “hitman” (or woman) labels to become something more, something better. Additionally, both Barry and Celaena, in these new lives they find themselves in, must keep their identities a secret to protect themselves and the people around them. 

Only Murders in the Building as Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

Finlay Donovan is a writer (albeit a struggling one) and single mom of two, willing to do almost anything (including potentially agree to a murder for hire gig) to get her life back on track. When Donovan lays out the plot for her new suspense novel to her agent at a restaurant, a distressed wife appears and makes Finlay an offer to “dispose” of her husband for a large sum of money. After unintentionally agreeing to this proposal, Finlay becomes involved in an all-too-real murder investigation that expands to involve her children’s sardonic nanny, her aggravating husband, a handsome local cop and more. 

Finlay Donovan is Killing It captures the same spirit of crime thriller-comedy that makes Only Murders in the Building so beloved. Both works involve an eccentric cast of characters who become involved in investigations somewhat against their will, forced to take on certain roles they are not well-equipped for, adding a layer of humor to some normally serious subjects. 

Sam Parker, Pine Reads Review Writer