5 Takeaways From The 2021 Emmy Nominations. This year’s Emmy nominees spanned a period when the coronavirus outbreak flipped the television business on its head. It stands to reason that some of the events and performances announced on Tuesday would be a little out of the ordinary.
Cobra Kai, Netflix’s continuation of The Karate Kid franchise, nominated for best comedy series? Lovecraft Country, a series that HBO terminated when it opted not to create a second season despite receiving 18 awards, including the best drama series? Emily in Paris, Netflix’s mediocre comedy that received a Golden Globe nomination this year, has been nominated for an Emmy for best comedy series.
Streaming services are more dominant than ever.
Sure, HBO is the most nominated media outlet, with 130 nominations. However, it only made it, thereby adding the nominees for streaming corporate sister HBO Max in its total. Despite this, streaming behemoth Netflix received the second-highest number of nominations, with 129, while upstart Disney+ received the third-highest number, with 71.
Takeaways From The 2021 Emmy Nominations. A look at the shows that have received the most nominations reveals Netflix’s The Crown and Disney+’s The Mandalorian tied for the most nominations with 24, followed by Disney+’s WandaVision (23) and Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale (21). Indeed, just three of the top ten most-nominated series — NBC’s Saturday Night Live, Mare of Easttown, and Lovecraft Country on HBO – were not developed by streaming platforms.
A lot of diversity, yet it is still typically concentrated on Black people.
It was fantastic to see Pose actor Mj Rodriguez nominated for best actress in a drama, honoring her influential work on the show with the first lead acting nomination for a transgender person. And seeing nominations for ambitious, Black-centered shows like Lovecraft Country, Amazon Prime Video’s The Underground Railroad, and ABC’s Black-ish right next to critical nods for accomplished Black performers like Bridgerton’s Regé-Jean Page and Uzo Adubo from In Treatment. This like a dream come true for critics who have advocated for ethnic diversity in TV for decades. Best of all, Michaela Coel and her pioneering series, I May Destroy You, was honored by the Emmys, but the Golden Globes didn’t.
However, it is time for the Emmys — and the television industry as a whole — to share that riches beyond Black artists and Black-centered shows. Yes, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Rosie Perez, Anthony Ramos, Bowen Yang, and Phillipa Soo were all nominated for major awards. However, many of the nominations would not have occurred if Disney+’s adaptation of Hamilton had not been eligible. So I’m hoping that this is a beginning step toward introducing greater — and more well-rounded — diversity to major Hollywood award nominees.
Superhero and genre shows are becoming more popular than ever.
Game of Thrones was frequently nominated for a slew of awards back in the day. However, numerous series in the horror/superhero genre is frequently neglected by major Hollywood awards. They received considerable recognition this year, including WandaVision, The Mandalorian, Lovecraft Country, and Amazon Prime Video’s dark superhero comedy, The Boys (which was the biggest surprise for me). This year saw Marvel receive its first Emmy nominations, implying that this is only the beginning of future geekdom.
Saturday Night Live continues to be a powerful force.
Every few years, a snide critic writes an obituary for this irritatingly inconsistent-yet-often-brilliant sketch comedy icon. Then SNL piles up Emmy nominations, proving how premature those predictions of death were. It wasn’t just that its 21 nominations edged out comic favorite Ted Lasso by one; it also had a strong showing in the supporting and guest actor comedy categories. Kenan Thompson was nominated for best lead actor in a comedy for his sitcom, Kenan, while simultaneously acting as a critical figure on Saturday Night Live. He was also nominated for best supporting actor in a comedy.
To be sure, less competition in the comedy sector contributed to its dominance this year. (The epidemic appears to have eliminated more comedy shows than dramas.) However, SNL produced several excellent shows when the whole cast and creative team worked remotely from home. They followed those episodes by bringing back a live audience well before vaccinations were widely accessible. Not bad for a series on the verge of getting its own AARP card.
Fewer notable snubs, but intense competition made some inevitable
There were sure to be huge shows left out, no matter what was nominated for best limited series, simply because the competition in this sector has risen enormously due to big-name performers coming on for projects meant to last only one season. This contains shows starring Kate Winslet, such as Mare of Easttown.
Small Axe, Steve McQueen’s homage to Black immigrants in Britain, was left out of the category: Showtime’s The Good Lord Bird, HBO Max’s It’s a Sin, and HBO’s The Undoing. Similarly, Undoing star Nicole Kidman’s lack of an acting nomination, along with Ethan Hawke from The Good Lord Bird, had to be among the most high-profile snubs. The Emmys also seemed to ignore the third season of Netflix’s Master of None, passing up the chance to recognize Naomi Ackie and Lena Waithe’s portrayal of a shattered marriage. This omission would make me question if former series actor Aziz Ansari’s #MeToo scandal had any bearing.
And, as much as everyone enjoyed seeing Conan’s last season nominated for best variety talk series and A Black Lady Sketch Show nominated for best variety sketch series, Emmy snubbed NBC’s Late Night With Seth Meyers and The Amber Ruffin Show on Peacock in both categories. (Late Night was nominated for directing, while Amber Ruffin was nominated for writing.) It’s time to broaden these categories a little so that more excellent work may be recognized.
The winners of the 73rd Emmy Awards will be revealed during a ceremony hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, which will telecast and be streamed on CBS and Paramount+ on September 19th.
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