Emmy Awards 2021: Watch to Watch For
“The Crown” and Netflix could have a big night and bring the streaming service its first top award for a series. Here’s what else to expect, and a look at the favorites and potential upsets.,
At long last, it should be the year that a streaming platform is triumphant at the Emmys.
The tech companies upended the entertainment industry years ago but they’ve had mixed results breaking through with members of the Television Academy, who vote on the winners.
That will likely come to an end on Sunday when the envelopes are unsealed at the 73rd Emmy Awards, which will be broadcast on CBS — and, fittingly, streamed live on Paramount+.
“The Crown,” the lush Netflix drama chronicling the British royal family, is the heavy favorite to win one of night’s the biggest awards — best drama — on the strength of its fourth season, which took viewers into the 1980s as it portrayed the relationship of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
Seven of the show’s cast members landed acting nominations, including Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles) for best actor and Emma Corrin (Princess Diana) and Olivia Colman (Queen Elizabeth II) for best actress. Gillian Anderson (Margaret Thatcher) and Helena Bonham Carter (Princess Margaret) are among the nominees for best actress in a supporting role.
“The Crown” already picked up four Emmys in the first batch of awards handed out during last weekend’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards, which recognizes achievements in technical categories.
Netflix built a considerable lead over its television and streaming rivals at the Creative Arts Emmys, all but guaranteeing that it will win more awards than any other studio, streaming platform or TV network.
A best drama win for “The Crown” would also be a significant first for Netflix. The streaming service has never won a top series award, despite a whopping 30 nominations in best drama, comedy and limited series from 2013 to 2020. Only one streaming service, Hulu, has won best drama, an award that went to “The Handmaid’s Tale” four years ago.
It would be a fitting win in a ceremony that is recognizing the best shows aired or streamed amid the pandemic. During the stay-at-home months last year and early this year, people increasingly turned away from cable and embraced streaming video entertainment, accelerating a trend that was already underway.
While “The Crown” is the favorite, keep an eye out for spoilers in the best drama race. “The Mandalorian,” the Star Wars action adventure show on Disney+, picked up seven technical awards last weekend, and Television Academy voters love themselves some popular, action-packed entertainment, as evinced by “Game of Thrones” winning the best drama category a record-tying four times.
A show with an outside shot is “Bridgerton,” the popular Netflix bodice-ripper from the super producer Shonda Rhimes. FX’s “Pose,” nominated for its final, emotional season, has the best chance at an upset of any of the cable or network series nominated.
‘Ted Lasso’ and Jason Sudeikis are favorites.
It looks like Apple’s streaming service, not quite two years old, is on the verge of getting its first major Emmys win, thanks to an aphorism-spouting, fish-out-of-water soccer coach.
The feel-good Apple TV+ comedy, “Ted Lasso,” is the favorite in the comedy category. Nominated for its rookie season, which had its premiere in August 2020, the show already won best cast in a comedy last weekend. The winner of that award has gone on to win best comedy six years in a row. “Ted Lasso” also cleaned up at the Television Critics Association Awards earlier this month, winning best new series, best comedy and best overall show.
Jason Sudeikis, the former “Saturday Night Live” stalwart, is poised to win multiple Emmys, including for best writing and best actor in a comedy series. Those would represent his first Emmy wins.
A long shot competitor for best comedy is the HBO Max series “Hacks,” starring Jean Smart, who is also likely to win her fourth acting Emmy for her role as a Joan Rivers-like stand-up comic.
When it comes to comedy this year, the broadcast and cable networks are on the outside looking in: They earned only one nomination in the category, from ABC’s “black-ish,” its lowest combined total in the history of the Emmys.
Cedric the Entertainer hosts a potentially boozy ceremony.
The Emmys will be an in-person event for the first time in two years, but it won’t be up to the level, in crowd size or spectacle, of the Before Time. Instead of taking place at the 7,100-seat Microsoft Theater, the ceremony will take place in a tent in downtown Los Angeles, with a few hundred people attending.
Most nominees will be seated at tables, with food and drink, a la the Golden Globes, a dash of glamour that the show’s producers hope will provide a jolt to sagging ratings, which last year hit a new low. Some casts and production staffs plan to gather remotely. Nominees from “The Crown” will be ready to celebrate at a party in London, similar to the one “Schitt’s Creek” had last year in Toronto.
Cedric the Entertainer, the stand-up comedian and star of the CBS sitcom “The Neighborhood,” will host. He has suggested that he won’t go for the kind of lacerating political commentary that figured in the onstage comments made by the recent Emmys hosts Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Michael Che and Colin Jost.
“I want to bring a familiarity that comes with my brand of stand-up,” he told The New York Times. “I’m somebody you know. I’m your cousin or your uncle, and we’re here to celebrate each other.”
The downsized ceremony matches the reduced circumstance of the TV industry over the last year. Because of production delays during the pandemic, the number of shows submitted for the best drama and comedy races was down 30 percent.
Michael K. Williams could win.
Michael K. Williams, the beloved star of “The Wire” who was found dead on Sept. 6, is nominated for best supporting actor in a drama for the recently canceled HBO series, “Lovecraft Country.” If he does win — and he’s a slight favorite over Tobias Menzies from “The Crown” — it will not be because Emmys voters wanted to give him the award posthumously. The Emmy voting period ended before Williams’s death.
A win for Mj Rodriguez could be one of the night’s biggest moments. Rodriguez’s performance as Blanca Evangelista on FX’s “Pose” earned her a nomination in the best actress in a drama race, the first time a transgender person has been up for the award. To pull it off, Rodriguez would have to beat Corrin, the favorite for her role as a young Princess Diana in “The Crown.”
‘The Queen’s Gambit’ vs. ‘Mare of Easttown’
As usual, the Emmys tightest race will come down to best limited series.
Months ago, Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit” seemed like a sure bet, especially after it claimed limited series honors at the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Television Awards.
But there are signs the race has turned into a dead heat. At the Television Critics Association Awards on Sept. 15, HBO’s gritty whodunit “Mare of Easttown” took best limited series honors, and Michaela Coel, the creator and star of another HBO limited series, “I May Destroy You,” won for best performer in any television drama.
The best actress in a mini-series will be a showdown, pitting Coel against Kate Winslet, who played the weary detective of “Mare of Easttown,” and Anya Taylor-Joy, who played the chess prodigy in “The Queen’s Gambit.”