The Crown and The Mandalorian are leading the Emmys race with 24 nominations each. On the network side, HBO and HBO Max are leading with 130 nominations, closely followed by Netflix, with 129.
All will be in the running when the Emmy winners are revealed on 19 September during a ceremony to be hosted in Los Angeles by Cedric the Entertainer.
While big names are leading the expected categories, this year’s list of nominees also includes its share of oversights and unexpected shoutouts.
Here are the five biggest snubs and surprises of the 2021 Emmys nominations:
‘The Underground Railroad’ deserved more
The Underground Railroad rightfully picked up a nomination for Outstanding Limited Series – but where was Thuso Mbedu’s nod for Outstanding Lead Actress? No newcomer made a debut quite like the South African star did in Barry Jenkins’s challenging if rewarding Amazon Prime series based on Coulson Whitehead’s novel. As Cora, Mbedu put her heart and soul into a role that would have been tough for the most experienced of actors, running an extreme gamut of emotions. Her performance showcased an astonishing trajectory in one season of TV that most characters fail to get in entire series arcs. (JS)
Recognition for ‘WandaVision’
It’s a joy to see Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, and Kathryn Hahn in the running for Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, and Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, respectively. Their performances as Vision, Wanda Maximoff, and Agatha Harkness made WandaVision, the first TV series in Marvel’s Phase Four and the studio’s first show with Disney+, a success.
That the Emmys would also recognise the programme by nominating it for Outstanding Limited Series wasn’t a done deal. The category, after all, is ulta-competitive, with deserving contenders such as Mare of Easttown, The Queen’s Gambit, The Underground Railroad, and I May Destroy You. But the Emmys appear as open to supporting Marvel’s shows as they have done with Star War’s The Mandalorian. It’s fun to see the resulting list of nominees run a wide gamut from prestige TV to more commercial properties. (CM)
Zilch for Steve McQueen’s ‘Small Axe’
It’s a glaring lack of a nod for Small Axe. The BBC anthology series was by no means expected to clean up this year, but picking up zero nominations feels like a definite snub. Earlier this year, Steve McQueen’s five-episode series exploring the stories of Caribbean people living in London from the Sixties to the Eighties, led the Bafta pack with no less than 15 nods.
Acting-wise, the most expected choice would’ve been Letitia Wright and John Boyega, but look past the more high-profile names and you’d find the less obvious Shaun Parkes. The actor’s portrayal as Frank Crichlow in the first instalment “Mangrove” was nothing short of spectacular – without a doubt, one of 2020’s most mesmerising small-screen performances. And one sorely in need of some official recognition. (AN)
Where is Ethan Hawke’s nomination for ‘The Good Lord Bird’?
As well as starring in this miniseries about the abolitionist John Brown, based on James McBride’s 2013 National Book Award-winning novel, Hawke also helped create and executive-produce it. Clearly it’s a story that struck a chord with him, and that passion and righteous energy is shot right through his powerful, physical performance. As he sweats, grunts and roars his way around the American South doing battle against the forces of slavery, it’s clear that he has God on his side – but not, in this case, the Emmy judges. (KP)
What happened to ‘Mythic Quest’?
Rob McElhenney has already created one all-time great sitcom in the nihilistic, no-holds-barred shape of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, but with Mythic Quest he’s somehow managed to one-up himself by creating a show that takes daring narrative risks while still delivering laughs and a whole lot of heart. The second season of the show was even smarter and sharper than the first, with stand-out performances from Charlotte Nicdao and the consistently hilarious David Hornsby. In a more just world, Mythic Quest would be receiving as many plaudits as its equally big-hearted Apple TV+ compatriot Ted Lasso. (KP)