Emmy nominations 2021: Michaela Coel and Jason Sudeikis may destroy, Steve McQueen’s Small Axe gets cut short

Pose's Mj makes history as the first trans woman nominated for lead actress in a dramatic series ... while The Crown and The Mandalorian racked up 24 nominations apiece.


The 73rd Emmy nominations were announced this morning, and while the list of contenders offered nothing as earth-shaking as Schitt’s Creek crashing the party last year, there were still a few surprises – and at least one milestone.

Mj Rodriguez became the first trans woman to be nominated for outstanding lead actress in a drama with a nod for her performance in FX’s Pose; Laverne Cox was nominated multiple times as a guest star on Orange Is The New Black, and Rain Valdez was nominated in the short-form category, but this is the first time a trans performer has been recognized on this level.

Rodriguez’s castmate Billy Porter was nominated once again for outstanding lead actor in a drama; the show is up for a total of 10 awards this year, including outstanding dramatic series.

Michaela Coel was nominated three times – as a writer, director and lead actress – for her work on the incendiary I May Destroy You. The HBO series is up for nine awards in total, including outstanding limited series – which Coel would also share.

Barry Jenkins’s Amazon Studios adaptation of The Underground Railroad earned seven nominations, including outstanding limited series and a directing nod for Jenkins, though none of its cast was nominated. Another Amazon series, Steve McQueen’s Small Axe, was snubbed entirely despite a rapturous critical reception; I can only assume that Emmy voters couldn’t see past the format of packaging five short features as “episodes.”

The television academy seemed much more comfortable with Amazon’s superhero satire The Boys, bestowing six nominations upon it including outstanding writing and outstanding dramatic series. This would be the first time anyone positioned The Boys as a drama, but every awards body makes its own calls, I guess.

It’s the same reason Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom, Jr., Jonathan Groff, Daveed Diggs, Anthony Ramos, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Philippa Soo can be nominated in the “limited anthology series or movie” category for Hamilton, the filmed record of their stage production that premiered on Disney+ last summer; the show itself is nominated for outstanding pre-recorded variety special, and all of its technical nominations are for a variety special… but there are no acting options in that stream so the cast gets shunted into the limited/anthology movie space. Nothing means anything. Let’s have more prizes!

The Disney+ series WandaVision pulled 23 nominations in the limited-series category, including acting nods for Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen and Kathryn Hahn, three writing nominations and a director nod.

Meanwhile, its fellow Marvel Studios show The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, which also looked and felt like a limited series, scored five nominations in the dramatic series category – four in technical categories, and a guest star nod for Don Cheadle – while another Disney property, The Mandalorian, earned nods for outstanding dramatic series, outstanding supporting actor for Giancarlo Esposito, and a pair of guest star nominations for Timothy Olyphant and Carl Weathers.

With 24 nominations in total, the second season of the Star Wars spinoff ties with The Crown for the most overall recognition. Olivia Colman, Josh O’Connor, Emma Corrin, Tobias Menzies, Gillian Anderson and Helena Bonham Carter were all recognized with acting nominations for the Netflix series about the life of Queen Elizabeth II. Charles Dance, Claire Foy and Emerald Fennell – who won an Oscar for writing Promising Young Woman earlier this year – received guest-star nods.

But plenty of shows did very, very well: Apple’s breakout comedy Ted Lasso scored 20 nominations, including outstanding comedy series and a total of seven acting nominations – creator/star Jason Sudeikis is up for outstanding actor, with Roy Goldstein, Nick Mohammed, Jeremy Swift and co-creator Brendan Hunt in contention for the supporting actor prize and Juno Temple and Hannah Waddingham up for supporting actress. (The show also picked up three directing nominations and two apiece for writing and editing.)

There were a few surprises: Netflix’s largely ridiculed Emily In Paris ended up among the contenders for outstanding comedy series, with only one other nod – for production design – to its name. It’s up against two other Netflix shows, Cobra Kai and The Kominsky Method, as well as ABC’s Blackish, HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant, HBO’s Hacks, Hulu’s PEN15 and the aforementioned Ted Lasso.

Over in the limited-series stream, Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit and HBO’s Mare Of Easttown snapped up 18 and 16 nominations, respectively, both landing writing and directing nominations, lead actress nods for Anya Taylor-Joy and Kate Winslet (again, respectively) and various supporting nominations. (One of the Mare nominees, supporting actress Jean Smart, is also up for a leading actress award in the comedy stream for her performance as a waning stand-up diva in Hacks.)

Even HBO’s freshly cancelled Lovecraft Country nabbed 18 nominations, including outstanding dramatic series and acting nods for leads Jonathan Majors, Jurnee Smollett, supporting players Aunjanue Ellis and Michael K. Williams and guest star Courtney B. Vance.

Netflix’s holiday sensation Bridgerton racked up 12 nominations in the drama categories, including outstanding dramatic series, outstanding lead actor for breakout star Regé-Jean Page and outstanding character voiceover performance for Julie Andrews as Lady Whistledown, the Regency-era gossip girl whose missives drive the story. She’s up against the likes of Stacey Abrams, Tituss Burgess, Seth MacFarlane, Maya Rudolph, Stanley Tucci and the late Jessica Walter, but when has Julie Andrews ever not been the favourite.

The 73rd Emmy awards ceremony will take place on the evening of September 19, 2021.

@normwilner

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