The Good, Bad, and Baffling of the 2021 Emmy Award Nominees


Every year, we partake in the sacred ritual of applauding, booing, and scratching our heads at the annual Emmy Award nominations. It is a tradition perhaps long-antiquated, but a tradition nonetheless—and there’s certainly power in the status quo. So when the Emmys voters almost get their picks right, there’s a general sense of bewildered glee. The 2021 nominations finally landed on July 13, 2021, and as always, there’s plenty to unpack. Let’s break down the good, the bad, and the baffling.

First, the good: MJ Rodriguez has finally made TV history with today’s announcement. The Pose actress is the first-ever transgender nominee in the Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series category, nominated for her game-changing turn as Blanca Rodriguez in the critically acclaimed FX drama, which ended its three-season tenure earlier this summer.

Next, the Comedy category is appropriately stacked, with nominations for Apple TV+’s beloved Ted Lasso, HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant and Hacks, Hulu’s Pen15, and Netflix’s Karate Kid spin-off Cobra Kai. In the Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series category, Michaela Coel’s brilliant I May Destroy You finally got the recognition it deserves, filling out the list alongside heavyweights including Mare of Easttown, The Queen’s Gambit, The Underground Railroad and WandaVision. Meanwhile, Netflix’s The Crown and Disney+’s The Mandalorian tied for most Emmy nominations overall with 24 each. But perhaps most interesting is the growing war of the platforms: HBO/HBO Max beat Netflix, 130-129, for total nominations.

Now, for the bad: Awards shows are apparently continuing their eyebrow-raising love affair with Emily in Paris, nominating the so-bad-it’s-still-bad Netflix comedy for an Emmy following its earlier Golden Globe nomination.

The Television Academy also snubbed the five-part anthology Small Axe, Showtime’s late-night hit Desus & Mero, and Apple TV+’s comedy Mythic Quest. But perhaps most egregious is the missing nomination for Thuso Mbedu, who led Barry Jenkins’s The Underground Railroad adaptation in a profound turn as protagonist Cora.

Finally, the baffling: Don Cheadle earned a Guest Actor nomination for his minutes-long appearance in the Disney+ Marvel series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, for which the actor seemed just as surprised as his fans.

And over in drama, Netflix’s regency romance Bridgerton was nominated alongside Amazon Prime Video’s violent superhero satire The Boys, which tells you all you need to know about modern television’s understanding of “drama.”

The Primetime Emmys is scheduled to air Sunday, Sept. 19 on CBS and stream on Paramount+, with Cedric the Entertainer slated to host the in-person event.

Read the full list of nominees below.

Drama Series

The Boys (Amazon Prime Video)

Bridgerton (Netflix)

The Crown (Netflix)

The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

Lovecraft Country (HBO)

The Mandalorian (Disney Plus)

Pose (FX)

This Is Us (NBC)

Comedy Series

Black-ish (ABC)

Cobra Kai (Netflix)

Emily in Paris (Netflix)

Hacks (HBO Max)

The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)

The Kominsky Method (Netflix)

Pen15 (Hulu)

Ted Lasso (Apple TV Plus)

Limited Series

I May Destroy You (HBO)

Mare of Easttown (HBO)

The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)

The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime Video)

WandaVision (Disney+)

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)

Jonathan Majors (Lovecraft Country)

Josh O’Connor (The Crown)

Regé-Jean Page (Bridgerton)

Billy Porter (Pose)

Matthew Rhys (Perry Mason)

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Uzo Aduba (In Treatment)

Olivia Colman (The Crown)

Emma Corrin (The Crown)

Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Mj Rodriguez (Pose)

Jurnee Smollett (Lovecraft Country)

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson (Black-ish)

Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method)

William H. Macy (Shameless)

Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso)

Kenan Thompson (Kenan)

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Aidy Bryant (Shrill)

Kaley Cuoco (The Flight Attendant)

Allison Janney (Mom)

Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish)

Jean Smart (Hacks)

Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Paul Bettany (WandaVision)

Hugh Grant (The Undoing)

Ewan McGregor (Halston)

Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton)

Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton)

Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You)

Cynthia Erivo (Genius: Aretha)

Elizabeth Olsen (WandaVision)

Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit)

Kate Winslet (Mare of Easttown)

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Giancarlo Esposito (The Mandalorian)

O-T Fagbenie (The Handmaid’s Tale)

John Lithgow (Perry Mason)

Tobias Menzies (The Crown)

Max Minghella (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Chris Sullivan (This Is Us)

Bradley Whitford (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Michael K. Williams (Lovecraft Country)

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Gillian Anderson (The Crown)

Helena Bonham Carter (The Crown)

Madeline Brewer (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Aunjanue Ellis (Lovecraft Country)

Emerald Fennell (The Crown)

Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Samira Wiley (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Carl Clemons-Hopkins (Hacks)

Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso)

Brendan Hunt (Ted Lasso)

Nick Mohammed (Ted Lasso)

Paul Reiser (The Kominsky Method)

Jeremy Swift (Ted Lasso)

Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live)

Bowen Yang (Saturday Night Live)

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live)

Hannah Einbinder (Hacks)

Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)

Rosie Perez (The Flight Attendant)

Cecily Strong (Saturday Night Live)

Juno Temple (Ted Lasso)

Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso)

Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Thomas Brodie Sangster (The Queen’s Gambit)

Daveed Diggs (Hamilton)

Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You)

Jonathan Groff (Hamilton)

Evan Peters (Mare Of Easttown)

Anthony Ramos (Hamilton)

Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton)

Kathryn Hahn (WandaVision)

Moses Ingram (The Queen’s Gambit)

Julianne Nicholson (Mare Of Easttown)

Jean Smart (Mare Of Easttown)

Phillipa Soo (Hamilton)

Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Don Cheadle (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier)

Charles Dance (The Crown)

Timothy Olyphant (The Mandalorian)

Courtney B. Vance (Lovecraft Country)

Carl Weathers (The Mandalorian)

Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Alexis Bledel (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Claire Foy (The Crown)

Mckenna Grace (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Sophie Okonedo (Ratched)

Phylicia Rashad (This Is Us)

Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Alec Baldwin (Saturday Night Live)

Dave Chappelle (Saturday Night Live)

Morgan Freeman (The Kominsky Method)

Daniel Kaluuya (Saturday Night Live)

Daniel Levy (Saturday Night Live)

Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Jane Adams (Hacks)

Yvette Nicole Brown (A Black Lady Sketch Show)

Bernadette Peters (Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist)

Issa Rae (A Black Lady Sketch Show)

Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live)

Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live)

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