Emmys 2021: With Last Year’s Winners Out, Which Comedies and Dramas Will Win Over the TV Academy?

With nominations opening next week for the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards, today we take a look at the key categories and start the process of predicting the races.

This year’s nominees will look much different from last year as some series celebrated their final bows a year ago, before the industry-wide pandemic shutdown halted productions. Here is a quick reminder of last year’s comedy and drama series winners, and which shows are still eligible in 2021. The carryover list is very short.

Drama Series

  • “Succession” (HBO) (Winner) — Not eligible
  • “Better Call Saul” (AMC) — Not eligible
  • “The Crown” (Netflix) — Eligible
  • “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu) — Eligible
  • “Killing Eve” (BBC/AMC) — Not eligible
  • “The Mandalorian” (Disney+) — Eligible
  • “Ozark” (Netflix) — Not eligible
  • “Stranger Things” (Netflix) — Not eligible

Last year’s big winner, Succession, will not air its highly anticipated third season until later this fall. Only three of 2020’s eight nominated dramas are eligible this season, and all three are very likely to score new nominations. The Crown and The Mandalorian both made their big impacts on the holiday television season while The Handmaid’s Tale is currently running its latest season, and with the finale set to air the day before voting opens. And while we’re missing some of our favorite duplicitous lawyers and spies and illicit family businesses and teenage hijinks, we’re sure to see some of them back where they belong next year.

Comedy Series

Last year’s nominees:

  • “Schitt’s Creek” (PopTV) (Winner) — Not eligible; series ended
  • “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO) — Not eligible
  • “Dead to Me” (Netflix) — Not eligible
  • “The Good Place” (NBC) — Not eligible
  • “Insecure” (HBO) — Not eligible
  • “The Kominsky Method” (Netflix) — Eligible
  • “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon) — Not eligible
  • “What We Do in the Shadows” (FX) — Not eligible

If 3/8 seemed like a sad number for drama series, the landscape is even more barren for comedy. Only one of last year’s nominated comedy series, The Kominsky Method, is eligible for a return trip to the Emmys. Schitt’s Creek and The Good Place each ended their run in the 19/20 season. We know that Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dead to Me, Insecure, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel have all been renewed but without premiere dates. And What We Do in the Shadows announced last week that season three is coming in September. So while we’ll miss some of our favorite funny ladies and gents this year, the door is wide open for some others to win over the Television Academy and fans.

Current 2021 Emmy Predictions

And now that we have a look at what will definitely be out of the running, here are our predictions in the Drama and Comedy Series categories.

Outstanding Drama Series

With 13 Emmy wins to date, it’s a little strange to realize that The Crown has never won the Emmy for Drama Series. In fact, of its 13 wins, most have been in the form of creative arts, where the period drama about the royal family really shines. The Handmaid’s Tale remains the only streaming series to have won the prize. With a fourth season that is sure to garner many nominations (and likely at least 4 in acting alone), the introduction of Princess Diana could be exactly what gives Netflix their first win in this category.

The new season of The Handmaid’s Tale is also there, though, and with some real momentum fans have been craving, we could see it making a return trip to the stage. Also likely returning is The Mandalorian, which nabbed 15 nominations for its first year. But is it a winner? Probably not. So what else will join those three? After being shut out last year, This Is Us and Pose are looking for comebacks and both are deserving. After ten years away, HBO brought back In Treatment, this time with Emmy-winner Uzo Aduba in the lead, and with a lot of positive buzz. But there are a lot of brand new shows hoping for attention. HBO has Lovecraft Country, Netflix is juggling the wildly popular Bridgerton and the less buzzed about Ratched, while Apple TV+ has The Mosquito Coast and Servant. And Disney+ is hoping for some nominations on the Marvel series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which is conspicuously submitted for Drama Series instead of Limited, despite the fact that a second season has not been announced. Most likely, they didn’t want to compete against themselves, with WandaVision a stronger contender, but the category selection is noteworthy, nonethless.

  1. “The Crown” (Netflix)
  2. “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
  3. “The Mandalorian” (Disney+)
  4. “This Is Us” (NBC)
  5. “Bridgerton” (Netflix)
  6. “Lovecraft Country” (HBO)
  7. “Pose” (FX)
  8. “In Treatment” (HBO)

Next in line

9. “Ratched” (Netflix)
10. “The Mosquito Coast” (Apple TV+)
11. “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (Disney+)
12. “The Boys” (Amazon)
13. “P-Valley” (Starz)
14. “Perry Mason” (HBO)
15. “Yellowstone” (Paramount)

Billy Porter as Pray Tell on POSE — Eric Liebowitz/FX

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Do we dare hope for such a diverse lineup of lead actors? We dare.

  1. Billy Porter, “Pose” (FX)
  2. Josh O’Connor, “The Crown” (Netflix)
  3. Regé-Jean Page, “Bridgerton” (Netflix)
  4. Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us” (NBC)
  5. Jonathan Majors, “Lovecraft Country” (HBO)
  6. Pedro Pascal, “The Mandalorian” (Disney+)

Next in line

7. Matthew Rhys, “Perry Mason” (HBO)
8. Joseph Fiennes, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
9. Justin Theroux, “The Mosquito Coast” (Apple TV+)
10. Anthony Mackie, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (Disney+)

Emma Corrin is Diana, Princess of Wales in THE CROWN — Courtesy of Netflix

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Olivia Colman did an incredible job of taking over the role of Queen Elizabeth II from Emmy winner Claire Foy and then making it her own. But when Emma Corrin came along and brought new life to the “People’s Princess,” it was Diana’s chance to outshine the queen once again.

  1. Emma Corrin, “The Crown” (Netflix)
  2. Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
  3. Olivia Colman, “The Crown” (Netflix)
  4. Uzo Aduba, “In Treatment” (HBO)
  5. Sarah Paulson, “Ratched” (Netflix)
  6. Mandy Moore, “This Is Us” (NBC)

Next in line

7. Mj Rodriguez, “Pose” (FX)
8. Jurnee Smollett, “Lovecraft Country” (HBO)
9. Phoebe Dynevor, “Bridgerton” (Netflix)
10. Christian Serratos, “Selena: The Series” (Netflix)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

There is such a wealth of talent in the supporting actor lineup and so many deserving candidates. With new and returning series, and a few familiar faces, it’s going to be interesting to see who ultimately makes it.

  1. Bradley Whitford, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
  2. Michael K. Williams, “Lovecraft Country” (HBO)
  3. Tobias Menzies, “The Crown” (Netflix)
  4. Giancarlo Esposito, “The Mandalorian” (Disney+)
  5. Anthony Ramos, “In Treatment” (HBO)
  6. Chris Sullivan, “This Is Us” (NBC)
  7. John Lithgow, “Perry Mason” (HBO)
  8. John Benjamin Hickey, “In Treatment” (HBO)

Next in line

9. O-T Fagbenle, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
10. Daniel Brühl, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (Disney+)
11. Max Minghella, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
12. Jonathan Bailey, “Bridgerton” (Netflix)

Gillian Anderson is Margaret Thatcher in THE CROWN season 4 — Courtesy of Netflix

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Despite a great performance, in some ways, Olivia Colman was upstaged by two ladies this year. Her likely co-nominee, Emma Corrin, and supporting actress Gillian Anderson, who transformed into a version of Margaret Thatcher we’ve never seen before.

  1. Gillian Anderson, “The Crown” (Netflix)
  2. Samira Wiley, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Netflix)
  3. Ann Dowd, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Netflix)
  4. Wunmi Mosaku, “Lovecraft Country” (HBO)
  5. Yvonne Strahovski, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Netflix)
  6. Madeline Brewer, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Netflix)
  7. Helena Bonham Carter, “The Crown” (Netflix)
  8. Susan Kelechi-Watson, “This Is Us” (NBC)

Next in line

9. Emerald Fennell, “The Crown” (Netflix)
10. Cynthia Nixon, “Ratched” (Netflix)
11. Aunjanue Ellis, “Lovecraft Country” (HBO)
12. Tatiana Maslany, “Perry Mason” (HBO)

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

Outstanding Comedy Series

The new show that has been on everyone’s mind this year is Ted Lasso from Apple TV+. A character originally created for a promotional campaign, Jason Sudeikis’ Coach Lasso arrived exactly when we needed him most, right at the height of the pandemic. The show is funny and endearing, charming and uplifting without being mean-spirited or crass. This is, without a doubt, the show to beat in 2021.

  1. “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+)
  2. “The Flight Attendant” (HBO)
  3. “Hacks” (HBO)
  4. “The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
  5. “Shameless” (Showtime)
  6. “Black-ish” (ABC)
  7. “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” (NBC)
  8. “Superstore” (NBC)

Next in line:

9. “Girls5eva” (Peacock)
10. “Pen15” (Hulu)
11. “Mythic Quest” (Apple TV+)
12. “Cobra Kai” (Netflix)
13. “Rutherford Falls” (Peacock)
14. “Dickinson” (Apple TV+)
15. “Made for Love” (HBO)

Jason Sudeikis stars in TED LASSO — Courtesy of Apple TV+

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

  1. Jason Sudeikis, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+)
  2. Michael Douglas, “The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
  3. William H. Macy, “Shameless” (Showtime)
  4. Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish” (ABC)
  5. Ted Danson, “Mr. Mayor” (NBC)
  6. Ed Helms, “Rutherford Falls” (Peacock)

Next in line:

7. Kenan Thompson, “Kenan” (NBC)
8. Rob McElhenney, “Mythic Quest” (Apple TV+)
9. Ralph Macchio, “Cobra Kai” (Netflix)
10. William Zabka, “Cobra Kai” (Netflix)

Kaley Cuoco stars in THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT — Courtesy of HBO

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Jean Smart has been having an incredible year over at HBO, and that could be enough to make her an Emmy winner once again. But then there’s Kaley Cuoco with The Flight Attendant. The dramedy/thriller defies description, but gave us a new appreciation for Cuoco’s talent and ability to carry a series on her own. It’s going to be a tough competition.

  1. Kaley Cuoco, “The Flight Attendant” (HBO)
  2. Jean Smart, “Hacks” (HBO)
  3. Renée-Elise Goldsberry, “Girls5eva” (Peacock)
  4. Sara Bareilles, “Girls5eva” (Peacock)
  5. Tracee EllisRoss, “Black-ish” (NBC)
  6. Jane Levy, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” (NBC)

Next in line:

7. Allison Janney, “Mom” (CBS)
8. Hailee Steinfeld, “Dickinson” (Apple TV+)
9. Maya Erskine, “Pen15” (Hulu)
10. Aidy Bryant, “Shrill” (Hulu)

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBCUniversal

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

As it has so often in recent years, Saturday Night Live is on track to dominate the supporting acting races once again. The debate continues over whether there should be a different category for the stars of sketch comedies and variety series, but for now, they still get to compete against scripted characters with multi-episode arcs.

  1. Kenan Thompson, “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
  2. Brett Goldstein, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+)
  3. Bowen Yang, “Saturday Night Live (NBC)
  4. Pete Davison, “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
  5. Brendan Hunt, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+)
  6. Nico Santos, “Superstore” (NBC)
  7. Paul Reiser, “The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
  8. Alex Newell, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” (NBC)

Next in line:

9. Michiel Huisman, “The Flight Attendant” (HBO)
10. Laurence Fishburne, “Black-ish” (ABC)
11. Nick Mohammed, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+)
12. Jeremy Swift, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+)

Hannah Waddingham stars in TED LASSO — Apple TV+

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

  1. Hannah Waddingham, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+)
  2. Cecily Strong, “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
  3. Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
  4. Juno Temple, “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+)
  5. Rosie Perez, “The Flight Attendant” (HBO)
  6. Zosia Mamet, “The Flight Attendant” (HBO)
  7. Hannah Einbinder, “Hacks” (HBO)
  8. Paula Pell, “Girls5eva” (Peacock)

Next in line:

9. Naomi Ackie, “Master of None” (Netflix)
10. Aidy Bryant, “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
11. Busy Phillips, “Girls5eva” (Peacock)
12. Michelle Gomez, “The Flight Attendant” (HBO)

Which comedies and dramas will win over the TV Academy for the 73rd Primetime Emmys? Comment and share your predictions!

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