10 Shows to Watch as Emmy Season Begins

The eligibility window for the 73rd Primetime Emmys closes on Monday night, and with so many past winners and nominees not releasing new seasons in the 2020/2021 season, there is a lot of room for new or previously overlooked offerings to burrow into the hearts of viewers and voters.

There are plenty of established series that are sure to do well this summer with nominations. Familiar favorites like The Crown, This Is Us, and Black-ish are ready to contend for top awards. Other recent entries like Succession, Barry, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and What We Do in the Shadows have delayed their highly anticipated returns to our living rooms, ready to make their triumphant returns next season.

And while there may be a show ready to follow Schitt’s Creek by emerging in its later seasons, today we are looking at a few first and second seasons of some shows you might not have caught up with yet. All of these are eligible for Emmys this year, and deserve some attention and chatter.

With a mix of comedy and drama, from 30 minutes to 60, here are 10 series for you to check out this weekend:

Hailee Steinfeld in season two of “Dickinson,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

Dickinson — Apple TV+

Emily Dickinson is finally redeemed in the half-hour comedy from the mind of Alena Smith. Remembered in history for her seclusion and withdrawal from society, Hailee Steinfeld brings the poet back to vibrant, effervescent life. Gorgeous production and costume design mingle with brilliant casting choices (Wiz Khalifa as Death? John Mulaney as Henry David Thoreau? Yes please!) and a soundtrack that could make every CW show seethe with jealousy. The first season was great, the second season even better.

GIRLS5EVA — “Pilot” Episode 101 — Pictured: (l-r) Paula Pell as Gloria, Renée Elise Goldsberry as Wickie Roy, Jeremiah Craft as Lil Stinker, Sara Bareilles as Dawn Solano, Busy Philipps as Summer — (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/Peacock)

Girls5eva — Peacock

In its first year in the streaming game, NBC/Universal’s Peacock service has blessed us with some delightful offerings. One welcome newcomer is Girls5eva, the wacky and unexpected comedy about four middle-aged ladies seeking to reclaim their former glory as a one-hit-wonder pop group from the late 90s. Created by Tina Fey, the series stars Paula Pell, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Sara Bareilles, and Busy Philipps and is absolutely worth your time.

Hannah Einbinder and Jean Smart star in HACKS; Photograph by Jake Giles Netter/HBO Max

Hacks  — HBO

HBO is having a hell of a time giving Jean Smart the work she deserves and we are all so much richer for it. There was her perfect performance as Laurie in the many-award-winning Watchmen, and now this year she has two simultaneous projects: as Kate Winslet’s outspoken mother on Mare of Easttown, and as the outspoken, clinging-to-relevance comedian in Hacks. Even with its familiar foundation (late-career star teams up with young upstart to reinvigorate their creativity), Hacks is wickedly funny and given fresh life by Smart and her co-star, Hannah Einbinder.

Jonathan Majors, Michael K. Williams, and Jurnee Smollett star in LOVECRAFT COUNTRY; Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Lovecraft Country — HBO

Misha Green’s fantasy/horror/drama series brings together a great cast (Jonathan Majors, Michael K. Williams, and Jurnee Smollett, among others) for a story that starts out as a man searching for his missing father and ultimately becomes a riveting, strange, and sometimes outrageous journey through history. Lovecraft Country brings new context and horror to recent atrocities while exploring themes of race, gender, education, and more. There’s definitely a point where the first season becomes almost too weird to follow, but it’s held together by its stars.

Jana Schmieding and Ed Helms in Rutherford Falls, 2020. Getty Images / Courtesy of Colleen Hayes for Peacock

Rutherford Falls — Peacock

Historic statues and land rights are at the center of this new comedy from Peacock. Ed Helms is Nathan Rutherford, the caretaker of his family’s land and legacy in the small, northeastern town of Rutherford Falls. Alongside his lifelong friend Reagan Wells (Jana Schmieding), the series brings a fresh perspective to current topics and debates and does so with humor and heart. For different reasons, Nathan and Reagan are both outsiders working to preserve their heritage while local casino manager Terry Thomas (Michael Greyeyes) seeks to enforce a very old contract. Even when the conversations are uncomfortable, the humor is both goofy and smart.

Nell Tiger Free in “Servant,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

Servant — Apple TV+

Recently completing its second season, M. Night Shyamalan’s Servant is always tinged with just enough unsettling creepiness that you can never fully let your guard down. Dorothy and Sean Turner (Lauren Ambrose and Toby Kebbell) hire a young woman, Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) to care for their infant son. But, of course, it’s not that simple. There’s been a tragedy, the couple is grieving, and Leanne’s arrival brings chaos rather than healing. Introducing psychological trauma, religious cults, and more, this is definitely one of those shows that won’t be for everyone, but is addicting for fans of these types of stories.


Special — Netflix

With four Emmy nominations in 2019, including Outstanding Short Form Series, Special, from writer/creator/star Ryan O’Connell was upgraded to a half-hour comedy series in its second season. Based on his own memoir, I’m Special: and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves, O’Connell plays Ryan Hayes, a gay 20-something with cerebral palsy who lands an unpaid internship at an online magazine and finally gets the kickstart he needs to live life on his own terms. Funny, charming, awkward, and beautifully inclusive, Ryan and his friends (including Jessica Hecht as his mom and Punam Patel as his pal and co-worker Kim) are special in the purest sense.

Jason Sudeikis and Hannah Waddingham in “Ted Lasso,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

Ted Lasso — Apple TV+

The one new comedy everyone has been talking about over the last year is Ted Lasso. The fish-out-of-water show about a Division II football coach moving to London to coach the other kind of football is hilarious. Honestly, genuinely, gut-busting hilarious. Upon multiple viewings, the jokes get funnier. Jason Sudeikis has found his perfect role as Ted, but has no problem sharing the screen with Hannah Waddingham as Richmond team owner Rebecca, a recent divorcée seeking revenge against her football-obsessed jerk of an ex-husband, Rupert. Bringing together the personalities of a roomful of athletes, coaches, assistants and more, Ted Lasso works because it is positive and uplifting in tender ways, and never takes the easy route of becoming mean-spirited. Season 2 is coming in July. Catch up now.

Pictured (L-R): Helena Howard (Nora Reid), Mia Healey (Shelby Goodkind), Shannon Berry (Dot Campbell), Sophia Ali (Fatin Jadmani), Reign Edwards (Rachel Reid), Sarah Pidgeon (Leah Rilke); THE WILDS — Courtesy of Amazon Studios

The Wilds — Amazon Prime Video

Amazon gifted us with a twisting thriller of a series about complicated teenage angst and female friendship in The Wilds, a mystery drama from Sarah Streicher. A group of teenage girls have to figure out how to work together after a plane crash leaves them stranded on a deserted island. With different backgrounds, experiences and personalities, they have to overcome their differences to survive their circumstances. But what they don’t know is that the crash wasn’t an accident and they are all there for a reason. The story gets more compelling as the season goes on, and thoughtful and thought-provoking.

Skylar Astin and Jane Levy on ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ | CREDIT: NBC

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist — NBC

The future of NBC’s one-hour musical dramedy remains unknown as of this writing, but two seasons in and Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is a feast of color, music, inclusion, wit, and everything that makes for great network TV. When an unexplained power surge accidentally downloads an entire musical catalog into Zoey’s (Jane Levy) brain during a routine MRI, she develops the empathic power to hear the feelings of those around her through Broadway musical style song and dance numbers. Zoey uses her powers to help the people around her as they navigate tricky emotional situations, drawing closer to her friends and family and learning more about herself in the process. It’s funny, it’s sweet, and the broadcast network-induced sanitization of language, etc, somehow makes it work really well.

What are some of your favorite first and second season shows available now?

Written by
Karen Peterson is the Awards Editor for We Live Entertainment. She previously worked as the Assistant Editor at Awards Circuit, now owned by Variety. Her work can also be found at Citizen Dame and at the Watch and Talk podcast. Her non-awards season hobbies include Angels baseball, taking pictures of other peoples' pets, and tweeting about The Bachelor franchise.

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