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Emmys 2021: Who Will Win, Who Should Win

Ted Lasso and The Crown scored the most noms — but who's set up to win?
  • Photos: Apple TV+, HBO, HBO Max, Netflix, Disney+, NBC.
    Photos: Apple TV+, HBO, HBO Max, Netflix, Disney+, NBC.

    Sunday night's 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards will put a cap on yet another strange year of television, during which a good number of COVID-impacted shows couldn't air new seasons. The result was an unpredictable set of nominees in which certain shows — like The Crown, Ted Lasso, and The Handmaid's Tale — utterly dominate. But are those the shows that are destined to take home the night's top awards? Below, we've compiled all the major Emmy categories and made our predictions for who will win … and our preferences for who should win.

    Outstanding Drama Series

    • The Boys (Prime Video)
    • Bridgerton (Netflix)
    • The Crown (Netflix)
    • The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)
    • Lovecraft Country (HBO)
    • The Mandalorian (Disney+)
    • Pose (FX)
    • This Is Us (NBC)

    With the bigger guns like Succession ineligible this year, the field really seems to have cleared out for The Crown. The competition seems to be some sentimental faves (like Pose) or an old foe in The Handmaid's Tale. If not now for The Crown, honestly when?
    Will Win: The Crown.
    Should Win: The Crown

    Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series

    • Sterling K. Brown as Randall Pearson on This Is Us
    • Jonathan Majors as Atticus Freeman on Lovecraft Country
    • Josh O'Connor as Prince Charles on The Crown
    • Regé-Jean Page as Simon Bassett on Bridgerton
    • Billy Porter as Pray Tell on Pose
    • Matthew Rhys as Perry Mason on Perry Mason

    If The Crown is winning, it's likely going to win everything, and while we could see Billy Porter making one last push for a win, especially considering how many clip-worthy scenes he got in the final season of Pose, O'Connor has all the buzz.
    Will Win: Josh O'Connor
    Should Win: Jonathan Majors

    Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series

    • Uzo Aduba as Dr. Brooke Taylor on In Treatment
    • Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II on The Crown
    • Emma Corrin as Princess Diana on The Crown
    • Elisabeth Moss as June/Offred on The Handmaid's Tale
    • Mj Rodriguez as Blanca Rodriguez on Pose
    • Jurnee Smollett as Leti Lewis on Lovecraft Country

    Fun fact: there's a greater than zero chance that both the Emmy-winning and Oscar-winning performances this year will go to actresses playing Diana Spencer. Hope that didn't just put the jinx on Kristen Stewart.
    Will Win: Emma Corrin
    Should Win: Emma Corrin

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

    • Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon on The Mandalorian
    • O-T Fagbenle as Luke Bankole on The Handmaid's Tale
    • John Lithgow as E.B. Jonathan on Perry Mason
    • Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip on The Crown
    • Max Minghella as Commander Nick Blaine on The Handmaid's Tale
    • Chris Sullivan as Toby Damon on This Is Us
    • Bradley Whitford as Commander Joseph Lawrence on The Handmaid's Tale
    • Michael K. Williams as Montrose Freeman on Lovecraft Country

    This category is all over the map, but it's also the one where The Crown is weakest, which opens the field up for Academy faves like Lithgow and Whitford. But without a doubt, the untimely death of Michael Kenneth Williams this month has put all eyes on this category and has many, if not most, people hoping for a much deserved Emmy win for the great star of The Wire.
    Will Win: John Lithgow.
    Should Win: Michael K. Williams

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

    • Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher on The Crown
    • Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret on The Crown
    • Madeline Brewer as Janine Lindo on The Handmaid's Tale
    • Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia on The Handmaid's Tale
    • Aunjanue Ellis as Hippolyta Freeman on Lovecraft Country
    • Emerald Fennell as Camilla Parker Bowles on The Crown
    • Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy Waterford on The Handmaid's Tale
    • Samira Wiley as Moira on The Handmaid's Tale

    This category might be the biggest lock of the night, as Gillian Anderson has won everything short of the Pulitzer Prize for her performance as the Iron Lady.
    Will Win: Gillian Anderson
    Should Win: Aunjanue Ellis

    Outstanding Comedy Series

    • Black-ish (ABC)
    • Cobra Kai (Netflix)
    • Emily in Paris (Netflix)
    • The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)
    • Hacks (HBO Max)
    • The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
    • PEN15 (Hulu)
    • Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)

    The battle between Ted Lasso and Hacks will be decided right here. We can't see any other show even making a dent in their vote totals.
    Will Win: Ted Lasso
    Should Win: Emily in Paris... jk jk, it's PEN15.

    Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series

    • Anthony Anderson as Dre Johnson on Black-ish
    • Michael Douglas as Sandy Kominsky on The Kominsky Method
    • William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher on Shameless
    • Jason Sudeikis as Ted Lasso on Ted Lasso
    • Kenan Thompson as Kenan Williams on Kenan

    Okay, THIS is the biggest lock of the night, no offense to any of the nominees who aren't playing beloved soccer coaches.
    Will Win: Jason Sudekis
    Should Win: Jason Sudekis

    Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series

    • Aidy Bryant as Annie Easton on Shrill
    • Kaley Cuoco as Cassie Bowden on The Flight Attendant
    • Allison Janney as Bonnie Plunkett on Mom
    • Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow Johnson on Black-ish
    • Jean Smart as Deborah Vance on Hacks

    Jean Smart would be the odds-on favorite to win here even if the Emmys weren't historically very big fans of hers, but they are. Her Hacks performance is the kind of tour-de-force Emmys are made of.
    Will Win: Jean Smart
    Should Win: Jean Smart

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

    • Carl Clemons-Hopkins as Marcus Vaughan on Hacks
    • Brett Goldstein as Roy Kent on Ted Lasso
    • Brendan Hunt as Coach Beard on Ted Lasso
    • Nick Mohammed as Nathan Shelley on Ted Lasso
    • Paul Reiser as Martin Schneider on The Kominsky Method
    • Jeremy Swift as Leslie Higgins on Ted Lasso
    • Kenan Thompson as Various Characters on Saturday Night Live
    • Bowen Yang as Various Characters on Saturday Night Live

    The big question here is whether the Ted Lasso guys will split their votes more severely than the Saturday Night Live guys. Our bet is yes, they will, certainly enough to fall short of sentimental fave Kenan Thompson.
    Will Win: Kenan Thompson
    Should Win: Bowen Yang

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

    • Aidy Bryant as Various Characters on Saturday Night Live
    • Hannah Einbinder as Ava Daniels on Hacks
    • Kate McKinnon as Various Characters on Saturday Night Live
    • Rosie Perez as Megan Briscoe on The Flight Attendant
    • Cecily Strong as Various Characters on Saturday Night Live
    • Juno Temple as Keeley Jones on Ted Lasso
    • Hannah Waddingham as Rebecca Welton on Ted Lasso

    A farewell Emmy for Cecily Strong would seem more likely if she wasn't competing for farewell Emmys with her two co-stars as well. This one will almost certainly be given to one of the two Ted lasses.
    Will Win: Hannah Waddingham
    Should Win: Cecily Strong

    Outstanding Limited Series

    • I May Destroy You (HBO)
    • Mare of Easttown (HBO)
    • The Queen's Gambit (Netflix)
    • The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime Video)
    • WandaVision (Disney+)

    The night's strongest category seems likely to come down to a battle between The Queen's Gambit and Mare of Easttown, but WandaVision and I May Destroy You are dark horses that shouldn't be counted out.
    Will Win: The Queen's Gambit
    Should Win: Mare of Easttown

    Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series

    • Michaela Coel as Arabella in I May Destroy You
    • Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin in Genius: Aretha
    • Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in WandaVision
    • Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon in The Queen's Gambit
    • Kate Winslet as Mare Sheehan in Mare of Easttown

    This is almost exactly a mirror of the Limited Series category, since the major players there are all powered by their female leads. A split between the two categories is very possible, and would be an easy way for Emmy voters to spread the love, but The Queen's Gambit feels slightly ahead in both races.
    Will Win: Anya Taylor-Joy
    Should Win: Kate Winslet

    Outstanding Actor in a Limited Series

    • Paul Bettany as Vision in WandaVision
    • Hugh Grant as Jonathan Fraser in The Undoing
    • Ewan McGregor as Halston in Halston
    • Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton
    • Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr in Hamilton

    As strong as the Actress category is, this one is … not that. Which means anything could happen, including a Hamilton win or a long-awaited triumph for Hugh Grant, whose performance in the under-appreciated The Undoing was genuinely fantastic.
    Will Win: Hugh Grant
    Should Win: Hugh Grant

    Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series

    • Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Benny Watts on The Queen's Gambit
    • Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson on Hamilton
    • Paapa Essiedu as Kwame on I May Destroy You
    • Jonathan Groff as King George on Hamilton
    • Evan Peters as Colin Zabel on Mare of Easttown
    • Anthony Ramos as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton on Hamilton

    It's still incredibly strange that The Queen's Gambit's Bill Camp wasn't nominated. That really cleared the deck for a win for Mare's unfortunate detective.
    Will Win: Evan Peters
    Should Win: Evan Peters

    Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series

    • Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler on Hamilton
    • Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness on WandaVision
    • Moses Ingram as Jolene on The Queen's Gambit
    • Julianne Nicholson as Lori Ross on Mare of Easttown
    • Jean Smart as Helen Fahey on Mare of Easttown
    • Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton on Hamilton

    This one's wide open and quite exciting. Julianne Nicholson's performance in the Mare finale was prime Emmy-bait, but will too many voters drift to Jean Smart? If voters feel like WandaVision deserves to win something, this very well could be it.
    Will Win: Kathryn Hahn
    Should Win: Julianne Nicholson

    Outstanding Competition Series

    • The Amazing Race (CBS)
    • Nailed It! (Netflix)
    • RuPaul's Drag Race (VH1)
    • Top Chef (Bravo)
    • The Voice (NBC)

    The smart money in this category is always to bet on the show that's on a winning streak. That's Drag Race, even though Top Chef's accomplishments are the class of the category.
    Will Win: RuPaul's Drag Race
    Should Win: Top Chef

    Outstanding Variety Talk Series

    • Conan (TBS)
    • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
    • Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
    • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
    • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)

    As with the Reality category, voters don't tend to budge from their faves in this category. That's good news for John Oliver and bad news for a farewell award for Conan O'Brien.
    Will Win: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
    Should Win: Late Night with Seth Meyers, but since that's not an option, Conan.

    Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded)

    • 8:46 - Dave Chapelle (Netflix)
    • Bo Burnham: Inside (Netflix)
    • David Byrne's American Utopia (HBO)
    • Friends: The Reunion (HBO Max)
    • Hamilton (Disney+)
    • A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote (HBO Max)

    One of the year's most interesting categories might come down to nostalgia (Friends, The West Wing) versus something new and acclaimed like Bo Burnham. Or it could just go to Hamilton. Judging from the nominations, Emmy voters really seemed to like Hamilton.
    Will Win: Hamilton
    Should Win: David Byrne's American Utopia

    The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards air September 19th on CBS and Paramount+.

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    Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards, The Crown, Hacks, The Handmaid's Tale, Lovecraft Country, Mare of Easttown, The Queen's Gambit, Saturday Night Live, Ted Lasso, WandaVision, Hamilton