July 17, 2021

EMMY NOMINATIONS 2021: ARE THE PRIMETIME EMMYS TRYING TO GO POPULAR?

The inclusion of certain shows among the 2021 nominations begs this question. On the other hand, the supporting and guest acting nominations this year are also quite strange, in some ways. Here are some thoughts on the 2021 Emmy nominations, announced earlier this week

 


COMEDY SHOCKER

When EMILY IN PARIS was nominated for the 2021 Golden Globe Awards, back in January, there was all sorts of speculation about why it was nominated, with regard to the integrity of the HFPA and whatnot. It was definitely surprising to see that show among the best comedy nominations, so even I questioned the HFPA’s integrity, when I read about how they were flown down to Paris for a junket during the filming of the series. Now EMILY IN PARIS is not a bad show. As a piece of entertainment, it works, and it’s good fun to watch, just like any other romantic comedy (that would never be considered for awards). Hence, I disregarded the show being nominated at the Globes as a one-off aberration. So on Tuesday, this week, when I saw EMILY IN PARIS among the 2021 Primetime Emmy Award nominations as well, I was baffled.

IS DRAMA A JOKE?


To make things worse, I saw BRIDGERTON was nominated for outstanding drama series, rubbing shoulders with the likes of THE CROWN and THE HANDMAID’S TALE. BRIDGERTON may be the most watched series, ever, on Netflix, and a huge conversation all over the internet, but does that make it good? If yes, then why isn’t NCIS or GREY’S ANATOMY nominated? They’re huge on ratings, aren’t they? BRIDGERTON was a popcorn entertainer at best. In fact, it was even a bit of a snooze in parts, and an over-indulgent piece of fluff even. The show even glossed over marital rape like it was okay. Now I don’t always agree with the Television Academy’s choices for the Emmys, but these two shows being included in the mix was quite bothersome for me this year. This is true especially considering that spectacular shows like THE GOOD FIGHT are ignored year after year. I give that as an example, because the Academy used to actually acknowledge THE GOOD WIFE, which THE GOOD FIGHT spun-off from, and the former even won a lot of Emmys in its time. Moreover, THE GOOD WIFE was a broadcast network show, not even a premium cable or streaming drama, which, by then, the Emmys had already shifted towards.

In fact, there has been such a conversation about the relevance of the Emmys or any awards for America’s broadcast network TV, where these awards are aired. If most of the work being recognized isn’t content that is accessible on network TV, then how does network TV make sense as a platform for such awards. So even if the members of the Television Academy are okay with devaluing the Emmy, while pandering to popular-choice TV, wouldn’t it then make sense for them to recognize more of the content that’s on a platform like the one that the Emmys are being aired on? Surely, if THIS IS US can be nominated even after it has lost its novelty and become downright tiresome, the TV Academy can find more such soapy broadcast dramas to recognize. Don’t get me wrong. THIS IS US is not a bad show either. In fact, it was very good when it started out. However, the novelty of THIS IS US wore off quickly, and it turned into an indulgent sob-fest that thrived on the same event of the characters’ lives for so long that it became tedious. And the gimmicky flash-forwards hinting at things like people growing old and dying are just revolting now. Yet, the show’s less-than-mediocre fifth season is considered as one of the eight best seasons of television in 2020-21 by the Emmys.

VARIETY OR COMEDY?

On the other hand, there is perhaps a little more recognition of broadcast TV in comedy. BLACK-ISH continues its late streak of being an awards contender, Allison Janney has earned her sixth nomination for MOM’s swansong, and KENAN and B POSITIVE have nods in other categories. And then, of course, there’s SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE—continuing to block out the supporting and guest acting categories in comedy, with 11 of the 26 nominations across the four categories. The show is literally not in the same set as comedy series, nominated otherwise as a ‘variety sketch series’, which is under the ‘variety’ set—separate from ‘comedy’, ‘drama’, ‘limited/anthology/movie’, ‘reality’ and ‘short form’. In fact, with two more spots among the comedy supporting and guest categories taken by another variety series—A BLACK LADY SKETCH SHOW—it comes to 13 comedy acting nominations (half of supporting and guest) being given to shows that aren’t even in the ‘comedy’ set. Surely the TV Academy can create a couple of acting categories under ‘variety’, if they can have up to 13 performances to recognize. If ‘short form’ can have its own acting categories, then why can’t ‘variety’? Meanwhile, so many performers from shows that actually qualify under the ‘comedy’ set remain snubbed, year after year, because SNL must be given their spots!

This year, in particular, with multiple nominees from so many shows in the same categories, it’s really limited comedy supporting and guest by including so many SNL performers. That’s not to say that the multiple nominees from other shows don’t deserve their spots. For whatever reason the TV Academy considered only a handful of series for the supporting categories in comedy, drama and limited/anthology/movie, it’s still a little refreshing to see supporting actors and actresses getting their due, since they don’t always. Secondary characters and actors, who are instrumental to their shows’ success, often get sidelined, with mostly the series and the leads getting all the recognition. I’m referring here to TED LASSO’s six supporting performers, THE HANDMAID’S TALE’s nine supporting and guest, MARE OF EASTTOWN’s three, and THE CROWN’s six.

CATEGORY CONFUSION CONTINUES 

Yet, when it comes to THE CROWN, I find it a little strange to see Claire Foy nominated for what was a prologue flashback, where the young queen sat at a table and read some lines. I love Claire Foy and she brought so much charm, grace and nuance to THE CROWN that made it an instant favorite of mine right at the outset. And I’m happy as a fan of her and the show to see the original queen still tied to the show and its success, two seasons after the cast changed. Yet, objectively speaking, I’m not so sure there wasn’t someone else who should have been given that spot instead. More glaring than this was Don Cheadle’s guest actor nomination for THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER. It was about a 90-second cameo. It’s not something that someone can’t be nominated for, but his role in those 90 seconds were not so captivating that it just had to be recognized. In fact, Cheadle even tweeted that he didn’t get it either. And isn’t FALCON… a limited series anyway? Just because the ‘limited/anthology/movie’ set doesn’t have guest acting categories, the academy just threw this into ‘drama’ it seems.  

EMMYS GOLD—THE GOLD STANDARD?

There’s a lot of good TV to recognize year after year, so it’s understandable that there are so many categories—18 for acting alone. However, some categories seem to be rather convenient, to throw in nominees that don’t fit in anywhere else, because they’re big names, or maybe from popular shows and just must be nominated. And then to see shows such as BRIDGERTON and EMILY IN PARIS and THIS IS US in the mix, it’s just very confusing to me how one can take the Primetime Emmys as seriously as they would like us to. I mean, it’s the Emmy. It’s an EGOT award, along with the Grammy, Oscar and Tony. It’s not the People’s Choice. And I agree, it’s not my choice either. But while I don’t always agree with the Television Academy’s choices—and that is okay—I am now beginning to question them.

 

Here are the nominations of the drama, comedy and limited/anthology/movie categories, at a glance

 

DRAMA SERIES

 

Outstanding Drama Series

THE BOYS

BRIDGERTON

THE CROWN

THE MANDALORIAN

LOVECRAFT COUNTRY

POSE

THE HANDMAID'S TALE

THIS IS US

 


Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Emma Corrin, THE CROWN

Olivia Colman, THE CROWN

Uzo Aduba, IN TREATMENT

Elisabeth Moss, THE HANDMAID'S TALE

Jurnee Smollett, LOVECRAFT COUNTRY

Mj Rodriguez, POSE

 


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Reg√©-Jean Page, BRIDGERTON

Sterling K. Brown, THIS IS US

Billy Porter, POSE

Jonathan Majors, LOVECRAFT COUNTRY

Matthew Rhys, PERRY MASON

Josh O'Connor, THE CROWN

 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Gillian Anderson, THE CROWN

Helena Bonham Carter, THE CROWN

Emerald Fennell, THE CROWN

Ann Dowd, THE HANDMAID'S TALE

Yvonne Strahovski, THE HANDMAID'S TALE

Samira Wiley, THE HANDMAID'S TALE

Madeline Brewer, THE HANDMAID'S TALE

Aunjanue Ellis, LOVECRAFT COUNTRY

 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Michael K. Williams, LOVECRAFT COUNTRY

Bradley Whitford, THE HANDMAID'S TALE

Max Minghella, THE HANDMAID'S TALE

O-T Fagbenle, THE HANDMAID'S TALE

John Lithgow, PERRY MASON

Tobias Menzies, THE CROWN

Giancarlo Esposito, THE MANDALORIAN

Chris Sullivan, THIS IS US

 

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Alexis Bledel, THE HANDMAID'S TALE

Mckenna Grace, THE HANDMAID'S TALE

Claire Foy, THE CROWN

Phylicia Rashad, THIS IS US

Sophie Okonedo, RATCHED

 

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Courtney B. Vance, LOVECRAFT COUNTRY

Charles Dance, THE CROWN

Don Cheadle, THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER

Timothy Olyphant, THE MANDALORIAN

Carl Weathers, THE MANDALORIAN

 

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series

Julie Anne Robinson, BRIDGERTON

Steven Canals, POSE

Benjamin Caron, THE CROWN

Jessica Hobbs, THE CROWN

Liz Garbus, THE HANDMAID’S TALE

Jon Favreau, THE MANDALORIAN

 

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

Rebecca Sonnenshine, THE BOYS

Peter Morgan, THE CROWN

Yahlin Chang, THE HANDMAID’S TALE

Misha Green, LOVECRAFT COUNTRY

Dave Filoni, THE MANDALORIAN

Jon Favreau, THE MANDALORIAN

Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals, Janet Mock, Our Lady J, POSE

 

 

COMEDY

 

Outstanding Comedy Series

BLACK-ISH

COBRA KAI

PEN15

EMILY IN PARIS

HACKS

TED LASSO

THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT

 


Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Aidy Bryant, SHRILL

Jean Smart, HACKS

Allison Janney, MOM

Kaley Cuoco, THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT

Tracee Ellis Ross, BLACK-ISH

 


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Jason Sudeikis, TED LASSO

Anthony Anderson, BLACK-ISH

Michael Douglas, THE KOMINSKY METHOD

William H. Macy, SHAMELESS

Kenan Thompson, KENAN

 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Kate McKinnon, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Cecily Strong, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Aidy Bryant, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Rosie Perez, THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT

Hannah Einbinder, HACKS

Hannah Waddingham, TED LASSO

Juno Temple, TED LASSO

 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Bowen Yang, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Kenan Thompson, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Brett Goldstein, TED LASSO

Brendan Hunt, TED LASSO

Nick Mohammed, TED LASSO

Jeremy Swift, TED LASSO

Paul Reiser, THE KOMINSKY METHOD

Carl Clemons-Hopkins, HACKS

 

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Maya Rudolph, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Kristen Wiig, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Issa Rae, A BLACK LADY SKETCH SHOW

Jane Adams, HACKS

Bernadette Peters, ZOEY'S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST

Yvette Nicole Brown, A BLACK LADY SKETCH SHOW

 

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Alec Baldwin, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Dave Chappelle, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Daniel Kaluuya, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Dan Levy, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Morgan Freeman, THE KOMINSKY METHOD

 

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series

James Burrows, B POSITIVE

Lucia Aniello, HACKS

James Widdoes, MOM

Declan Lowney, TED LASSO

Zach Braff, TED LASSO

MJ Delaney, TED LASSO

Susanna Fogel, THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT

 

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

Steve Yockey, THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT

Meredith Scardino, GIRLS5EVA

Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, Jen Statsky, HACKS

Maya Erskine, PEN15

Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt, Joe Kelly, TED LASSO

Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt, TED LASSO

 

 

LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE

 


Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series

MARE OF EASTTOWN

I MAY DESTROY YOU

WANDAVISION

THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

 

Outstanding Television Movie

Uncle Frank

Sylvie's Love

Oslo

Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia

Dolly Parton's Christmas on The Square

 


Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Kate Winslet, MARE OF EASTTOWN

Michaela Coel, I MAY DESTROY YOU

Anya Taylor-Joy, THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT

Elizabeth Olsen, WANDAVISION

Cynthia Erivo, GENIUS: ARETHA

 


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Paul Bettany, WANDAVISION

Hugh Grant, THE UNDOING

Ewan McGregor, HALSTON

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

Leslie Odom Jr., Hamilton

 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Daveed Diggs, Hamilton

Jonathan Groff, Hamilton

Anthony Ramos, Hamilton

Thomas Brodie-Sangster, THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT

Evan Peters, MARE OF EASTTOWN

Paapa Essiedu, I MAY DESTROY YOU

 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Jean Smart, MARE OF EASTTOWN

Julianne Nicholson, MARE OF EASTTOWN

Kathryn Hahn, WANDAVISION

Phillipa Soo, Hamilton

Renee Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton

Moses Ingram, THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT

 

Outstanding Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Thomas Kail, Hamilton

Sam Miller, Michaela Coel, I MAY DESTROY YOU

Sam Miller, I MAY DESTROY YOU

Craig Zobel, MARE OF EASTTOWN

Scott Frank, THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT

Barry Jenkins, THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

Matt Shakman, WANDAVISION

 

Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Michaela Coel, I MAY DESTROY YOU

Brad Ingelsby, MARE OF EASTTOWN

Scott Frank, THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT

Chuck Hayward, Peter Cameron, WANDAVISION

Jac Schaeffer, WANDAVISION

Laura Donney, WANDAVISION 

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