From Ted Lasso to Mare of Easttown, these series completely deserve the award-season love.
Emmy season is officially here!
On Tuesday, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced the Emmy nominees for the 2021 edition of the awards honoring primetime TV, and they include an amazing collection of must-see series. The Crown and The Mandalorian lead the pack with 24 nominations each, while HBO was the most recognized network with a total of 130 nominations, followed closely by Netflix with 129.
The 73rd Emmy Awards, hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, will air Sept. 19. After last year’s ceremony was largely scaled down due to Covid-19 restrictions, we can expect Hollywood to make a return to form this year with an extravagant affair featuring all your favorite stars.
In the meantime, here are our picks for the best 2021 Emmy-nominated shows to catch up on — or enjoy all over again — before the trophies are handed out at the 2021 Emmys.
Our 10 Favorite 2021 Emmy 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.
Nominations: Outstanding Comedy Series; Jean Smart, Lead Actress in a 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
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.
Nominations: Outstanding Comedy Series; Jason Sudeikis, Lead Actor in a Comedy Series; Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Nick Mohammed, and Jeremy Swift, Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series; Hannah Waddingham and 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!
Nominations: Outstanding Drama Series; Olivia Colman and Emma Corrin, Lead Actress in a Drama Series; Josh O’Connor, Lead Actor in a Drama Series; Tobias Menzies, Supporting Actor in a Drama Series; Gillian Anderson, Helena Bonham Carter, and Emerald Fennell, Supporting Actress in a Drama Series; Charles Dance, Guest Actor in a Drama Series; Claire Foy, Guest Actress 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.
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.
Nominations: Outstanding Limited Series; Kate Winslet, Lead Actress in a Limited Series, Movie or Anthology; Jean Smart and Julianne Nicholson, Supporting Actress in a Series, Movie or Anthology; Evan Peters, Supporting Actor in a Series, Movie or Anthology
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 your old friends and say, “Thank goodness we’re not that age anymore.”
Nominations: Outstanding Comedy Series
Based on the book of the same name by Lindy West, Shrill tells the story of Annie, a young woman juggling her personal life, her professional life, and the often-limiting ways the world around her responds to her body. At its core is a soulful performance by Aidy Bryant, who is totally deserving of the Emmy attention. We love her for her absurdist work on Saturday Night Live, but this series gives her opportunities to reveal new shades of her talent with its insightful, hilarious look at self-esteem and personal growth.
Nominations: Aidy Bryant, Lead Actress in a 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
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
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 just became 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