Best Emmy-Winning and Nominated Shows of 2021

The 10 Best Emmy-Nominated Shows For Your Next Binge

From Ted Lasso to Mare of Easttown, these series completely deserve the award-season love.

The votes are in!

Last night, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced the Emmy winners for the 2021 edition of the awards honoring primetime TV, and they include an amazing collection of must-see series. Netflix celebrated a historic night taking eleven trophies for The Crown, while Apple TV+’s comedy Ted Lasso capped off its streaming streak with a win for Outstanding Comedy Series. We’re also thrilled that KCM fave Mare of Easttown did so well, with our beloved Kate Winslet nabbing Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.

Here are our picks for the best 2021 Emmy-winning and nominated shows to catch up on — or enjoy all over again. If you’re still in the mood for more Emmys goodness, check out our red carpet roundup of all the best looks from the night!

Our 10 Favorite 2021 Emmy Winners and Nominees

Hacks (HBO Max)

This incredible series is as hilarious as you’d expect from a show about a stand-up comic, but it’s also got plenty of serious things to say about aging, gender, and how the Hollywood machine runs down even the brightest talents. Jean Smart is incredible as a legendary comedian who finds fresh inspiration from a young writer who works for her. They butt heads, but from their tension comes a meaningful dialogue about what it means to be funny — and how to use humor in the game of life.

BIG WINS: Jean Smart, Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Nominations: Outstanding Comedy Series; Hannah Einbinder, Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series; Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series; Jane Adams, Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)

A unique concept, gorgeous shots and Anya Taylor-Joy’s tour-de-force performance made this show Netflix’s most-watched scripted miniseries ever within four weeks of its release last autumn. The subtle but gripping coming-of-age drama based on Walter Tevis’s 1983 novel of the same name follows orphan Beth Harmon (played by Taylor-Joy) on her rise to the top of the chess world while struggling with drug and alcohol dependency.

BIG WINS: Outstanding Limited Or Anthology Series, Outstanding Cinematography For A Limited Or Anthology Series Or Movie, Outstanding Period Costumes, Outstanding Directing For A Limited Or Anthology Series Or Movie

Nominations: Anya Taylor-Joy, Outstanding Lead Actress In A Limited Or Anthology Series Or Movie; Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Limited Or Anthology Series Or Movie; Moses Ingram, Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Or Anthology Series Or Movie

Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)

Jason Sudeikis as a mustachioed American who ends up totally out of his league as the coach of a British soccer team? Sign us up. Come for the hilarious cultural confusion, stay for Sudeikis’s nuanced and hysterical portrayal of the titular character, who we dare you not to fall in love with. It’s a jolly good time for all, even if you wouldn’t usually pick a show about sports.

BIG WINS: Outstanding Comedy Series; Jason Sudeikis, Lead Actor in a Comedy Series; Brett Goldstein, Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series; Hannah Waddingham, Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Nominations: Brendan Hunt, Nick Mohammed, and Jeremy Swift, Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series; Juno Temple, Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

The Crown (Netflix)

You’ve heard about how stellar this show is for years now, but its fourth season upped the ante with the introduction of Emma Corrin as Diana, Princess of Wales. She’s an incredible foil for Olivia Colman’s closed-off Queen Elizabeth, who in turn delivers perfect sparring matches with Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher. It’s got all the dishy drama you’d want from the royal family. Even Prince Harry admitted he’s seen it!

BIG WINS: Outstanding Drama Series; Olivia Colman, Lead Actress in a Drama Series; Josh O’Connor, Lead Actor in a Drama Series, Gillian Anderson, Supporting Actress in a Drama Series; Tobias Menzies, Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, Claire Foy, Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Nominations: Emma Corrin, Lead Actress in a Drama Series; Helena Bonham Carter, and Emerald Fennell, Supporting Actress in a Drama Series; Charles Dance, Guest Actor in a Drama Series

I May Destroy You (HBO)

There’s nothing else quite like this show, created by and starring the singular voice that is Michaela Coel. She plays a millennial writer working through the experience of a rape she can hardly remember. The series walks a careful tightrope of deep pain and razor-sharp comedy as Coel unpacks the idea of trauma and how it manifests in the furthest recesses of our minds. After an inexplicable snub by the Golden Globes, she deserves every ounce of this Emmy recognition. 

BIG WINS: Writing for a limited series, movie or drama

Nominations: Outstanding Limited Series; Michaela Coel, Lead Actress in a Limited Series, Movie or Anthology; Paapa Essiedu, Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Mare of Easttown (HBO)

Kate Winslet turns in her greatest performance in years as Mare, a detective working to solve the mystery of a murder in her town. On top of it, she’s still reeling from the impossible grief of losing her own son. It’s dark, but Winslet’s perfectly cranky portrayal — and her scenes with Jean Smart, who plays Mare’s mother — add a delightful comic touch. And if you haven’t already heard about the amazing Pennsylvania accents, you’re in for a treat.

BIG WINS: Julianne Nicholson, Supporting Actress in a Series, Evan Peters, Supporting Actor in a Series, Movie or Anthology; Kate Winslet, Lead Actress in a Limited Series

Nominations: Outstanding Limited Series; Movie or Anthology; Jean Smart Supporting Actress in a Series, Movie or Anthology

PEN15 (Hulu)

Think of the most cringeworthy things you did as a 13-year-old. Now think about how funny those things are when they happen to someone else — specifically, two actresses in their 30s who are playing teenagers, surrounded by a cast of actual teenagers. Creators and stars Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine transform themselves into middle schoolers in this laugh-out-loud series about being a kid who thinks they’re closer to adulthood than they actually are. From crushes to awkward parties to private family heartache, this is the perfect show to watch with some old friends and thank the heavens you’re not that age anymore.

Nominations: Outstanding Comedy Series

The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)

Kaley Cuoco stars as an alcoholic flight attendant whose life is a total mess — and things only get worse when she wakes up from a bender in Bangkok to find a dead body in bed next to her. The series follows along as she tries to unravel the mystery of what happened, running into a handful of suspicious characters along the way. This certainly is no Big Bang Theory, and Cuoco deserves all the praise she’s gotten for her layered performance.

Nominations: Outstanding Comedy Series; Kaley Cuoco, Lead Actress in a Comedy Series; Rosie Perez, Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

WandaVision (Disney+)

Expanding the idea of what a series within the Marvel universe could be, WandaVision slowly reveals itself through its 9 episodes, transforming as it goes along. Packed with references to classic sitcoms like The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Brady Bunch, and Family Ties as well as the layered history of Marvel itself, the show rewards attentive viewers who watch closely. It’s fun, ambitious, and wonderfully weird, with a terrifically versatile leading performance by Elizabeth Olsen.  

Nominations: Outstanding Limited Series; Elizabeth Olsen, Lead Actress in a Limited Series, Movie or Anthology; Paul Bettany, Lead Actor in a Limited Series, Movie or Anthology; Kathryn Hahn, Supporting Actress, Limited Series, Movie or Anthology

Pose (FX)

We were sad to see this fantastic series come to an end this year, but its Emmy accolades are the perfect reason to revisit it. Pose is a look inside the drag ball culture of 1990s New York City, and the show maintains the best characteristics of that scene: It’s fabulous, extravagant, and unforgettable. It also boasts an incredible cast of trans and gender-nonconforming actors, including Mj Rodriguez, who is the first trans woman to earn a major acting nomination at the Emmys.

Nominations: Outstanding Drama Series; Billy Porter, Lead Actor in a Drama Series; Mj Rodriguez, Lead Actress in a Drama Series