Emmy Awards 2021: Who will win and who should win

Emmy Awards 2021: Who will win and who should win
Sunday’s ceremony, hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, will answer the question on everyone’s lips: Can ‘Ted Lasso’ finally lift a trophy? Kevin E G Perry gives his predictions

Last year, the biggest awards night in television was dominated by a feel-good comedy with a rabid online fanbase. Schitt’s Creek became the first show in Emmys history to sweep all four acting categories in its genre, and also took home further prizes for writing and directing as well as the big one: Outstanding Comedy Series. This year, all eyes are onTed Lasso to see whether the much-debated Apple TV+ series can pull off a similarly dominant performance. Given that half their squad is nominated, you wouldn’t want to bet against them going home happy at the final whistle.

At least all the nominees will be able to gather in one place this year. After last year’s rather strange remote affair, this year’s ceremony will take place in person at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday 19 September at 8pm ET (which is 1am in the UK, if you’re feeling brave) under the watchful eye of host Cedric the Entertainer. Here’s my rundown of who will likely scoop up the main prizes, as well as who actually deserves to:

Outstanding Comedy Series


Cobra Kai


Emily in Paris


Ted Lasso

The Flight Attendant

The Kominsky Method

Will win: Ted Lasso

It may be a show about an underdog, but Ted Lasso is the clear favourite here. Given how much Emmy judges loved Schitt’s Creek last year, it would be a major upset if anyone other than Ted took home this trophy.

Should win: Pen15

No real complaints over Ted’s inevitable victory, but it’s worth taking a moment to salute the joyously inventive comedy of Pen15 and the superbly acerbic Hacks. Either would be a deserved winner. The Flight Attendant was a lot of fun, but was it a comedy? Strictly speaking, probably not. Meanwhile, the less said about Emily in Paris’s nomination the better – especially when the brilliance of The Other Two and Mythic Quest have been completely ignored.

Outstanding Drama Series

The Boys


The Crown

The Mandalorian

Lovecraft Country


The Handmaid’s Tale

This Is Us

Will win: The Crown

The Crown appears to be the front-runner, helped in no small part by how much Americans still love anything to do with Princess Diana (see also: the coming Broadway musical and wave of biopics). If it pulls it off, it would also mark a first series Emmy win for Netflix.

Emma Corrin as Diana in ‘The Crown’

Should win: Lovecraft Country

It may have been cancelled by HBO after just one series, but the wildly imaginative and consistently thrilling Lovecraft Country deserves the nod here.

Outstanding Limited Series

Mare of Easttown

I May Destroy You


The Queen’s Gambit

The Underground Railroad

Will win: The Queen’s Gambit

The Queen’s Gambit is the odds-on favourite with the bookies, who have no doubt noted that at last weekend’s Creative Arts Emmys the show swept the board with nine technical awards, including for cinematography. A very good omen.

Should win: I May Destroy You

Even in a competitive field, what Michaela Coel achieved with I May Destroy You still stands head-and-shoulders above the competition. It was funny, real, honest, timely and important, and would be a deserved winner.

Michaela Coel in ‘I May Destroy You’

Outstanding Lead Actress, Comedy

Aidy Bryant, Shrill

Jean Smart, Hacks

Allison Janney, Mom

Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant

Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish

Will win: Jean Smart

I predicted Jean Smart would win this back in June, and I’m sticking by that claim. She’s had a superlative year, capped by this career-best role as a sharp-tongued stand-up comic in Hacks.

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Should win: JEAN. SMART.

Outstanding Lead Actor, Comedy

Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso

Anthony Anderson, Black-ish

Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method

William H Macy, Shameless

Kenan Thompson, Kenan

Will win: Jason Sudeikis

An open-goal for Jason Sudeikis. His bosses at Apple TV+ must have been glad they got his much-inflated new contract signed before an Emmy win increased his leverage even further.

Blessedly uncynical: Jason Sudeikis in ‘Ted Lasso’

Should win: Jason Sudeikis

Sudeikis has added so much nuance and texture to his beloved character, it’s hard to believe Ted started life shilling Premier League coverage to America in NBC Sports adverts.

Outstanding Lead Actress, Drama

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

Will win: Emma Corrin

Corrin is the resounding favourite here. She played a crucial role in this year’s season of The Crown, and as we’ve said before: Americans just can’t get enough of Diana.

Should win: Jurnee Smollett

Watching Jurnee Smollett’s breakout turn in Lovecraft Country felt like witnessing the birth of a star. She proved she can do it all, from scenes of tense terror to her sizzling chemistry with co-star Jonathan Majors. She’d be a deserved winner.

Outstanding Lead Actor, Drama

Regé-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

Will win: Josh O’Connor

O’Connor is as clear a favourite in this category as Emma Corrin is in hers, meaning it’s very likely we’ll see Charles and Diana reunited with trophies in hand.

The Crown season 4 trailer

Should win: Jonathan Majors

It’s worth noting that Lovecraft Country is the first show in Emmys history to have four Black actors nominated across the major acting categories. Jonathan Majors’ powerful, kinetic performance in the show cemented his status as one of Hollywood’s most exciting young leading men – give that man an Emmy.

Outstanding Lead Actress, Limited Series or TV 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

Will win: Anya Taylor-Joy

In a very competitive field without a clear favourite, Anya Taylor-Joy may just pip her rivals to the post thanks to the way so much of The Queen’s Gambit relied on her talent, and how effortless she made that look. Checkmate.

Should win: Michaela Coel

Coel’s performance in I May Destroy You was so compelling, so personal and so raw that she clearly deserves to be celebrated for her acting talent as much as her peerless writing. Elsewhere, Kate Winslet will feel aggrieved not to be rewarded for, at the very least, nailing Mare’s Delaware County accent.

Outstanding Lead Actor, Limited Series or TV Movie

Paul Bettany, WandaVision

Hugh Grant, The Undoing

Ewan McGregor, Halston

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

Leslie Odom Jr, Hamilton

Will win: Leslie Odom Jr

A strange group of nominees this year. While it’s certainly possible to judge Hugh Grant’s slow unravelling in The Undoing against what Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr are doing in Hamilton, a better question would be: should you? That said, it’s likely one of the Hamilton pair will go home happy, and as Odom famously beat Miranda at the Tonys, don’t be surprised if he repeats the trick here.

Should win: Hugh Grant

I found Ewan McGregor’s turn as the titular fashion designer in Halston hugely enjoyable, but Hugh Grant’s ability to charm his way out of (almost) everything as a dashing pediatric surgeon accused of murder in The Undoing was the pick of these performances for me.

Hugh Grant, Noma Dumezweni and Nicole Kidman in Sky Atlantic’s ‘The Undoing’

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Comedy

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

Will win: Hannah Waddingham

Waddingham is the favourite to win for her performance as AFC Richmond owner Rebecca Welton in Ted Lasso, and deservedly so. She’s superb as the boss trying to kamikaze her own club only to be won over by Ted’s charm, and his biscuits.

Should win: Hannah Waddingham

It’s Hannah Waddingham’s year.

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Comedy

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

Will win: Brett Goldstein

In a category dominated by Ted Lasso’s Diamond Dogs (plus Roy), it’s fairly safe to assume that someone from the show will end up a winner. Which of them will be crowned is trickier to predict, but the smart money is on Brett Goldstein, whose arc as hardman midfielder Roy Kent gave him plenty to get stuck into.

Should win: Nick Mohammed

Goldstein would be a worthy winner, but I’d love to see Nick Mohammed rewarded for imbuing kitman-turned-coach Nate with so much heart.

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Drama

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

Will win: Gillian Anderson

It’s the battle of the Margarets, as Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) and the Princess (Helena Bonham Carter) go head-to-head as the most likely winners in this category. Both lit up The Crown, but Anderson is the one being most hotly tipped to take home a second Emmy after winning in 1997 as Agent Scully in The X-Files.

Should win: Aunjanue Ellis

Ellis took her Lovecraft Country character Hippolyta Freeman on a journey from housewife to something beyond time and space. She’d be a worthy winner. It’s a longshot, but it might just happen if the multiple nominees for The Handmaid’s Tale and The Crown end up splitting the vote.

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Drama

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

Will win: Michael K Williams

This award is sure to be one of the night’s most emotional moments. The Emmys ceremony will come just two weeks after the death of Michael K Williams, the frontrunner thanks to his multi-faceted performance as Montrose Freeman in Lovecraft Country. Insanely, Williams was never even nominated for an Emmy for playing either Omar Little on The Wire or Chalky White on Boardwalk Empire, so a little posthumous recognition is really the least they can do.

Should win: Michael K Williams

It can only be Michael K Williams.

Supporting Actress, Limited Series or a 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

Will win: Kathryn Hahn

Given that Hahn’s villainous theme song “Agatha All Along” won the Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics at the technical awards a few days ago, it’s hard to look beyond her as the winner here – a reward for a vibrantly entertaining career as well for this much-memed performance.

Should win: Julianne Nicholson

If we assume, as we should, that Jean Smart will win in the Outstanding Lead Actress, Comedy category, it would be great to see this award go to her Mare of Easttown co-star Julianne Nicholson. Nicholson didn’t get to have as much fun with her role as Smart, but she brought real humanity to the show’s twisting denouement.

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Limited 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

Will win: Evan Peters

Peters is the man to beat after doing great work opposite Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown. His Detective Colin Zabel wasn’t just able to keep up with Mare intellectually, he also gave the show its romantic heart.

Kate Winslet, Evan Peters and Justin Hurtt-Dunkley in ‘Mare of Easttown’

Should win: Paapa Essiedu

If it were up to me, this Emmy would be ending up on Essiedu’s mantlepiece. The journey his character Kwame takes through I May Destroy You was a difficult one, and it was always elevated by Essiedu’s deft, emotionally sensitive portrayal.

Outstanding Television Movie

Uncle Frank

Sylvie’s Love


Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia

Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square

Will win: Sylvie’s Love

This category is Hollywood’s existential crisis in the form of a little gold statuette. For the past eighteen months, pandemic restrictions have meant that almost all movies have been released directly to television. However, none of those movies are eligible for this award because they all want to fight it out at the Oscars, which disqualifies them from the Emmys. That leaves only a handful of competitors, of which the favourite to win is Sylvie’s Love, the period romance from writer/director Eugene Ash starring Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha.

Should win: Christmas on the Square

It’s unlikely that when the great and mighty Dolly Parton looks back on her life and works, the timeless songs written and sung, the life-saving vaccines funded, she’ll spend a great deal of time dwelling on the forgettable special Christmas on the Square. Still, it gets my vote because: A) It would be a fun protest about how contrived this category has become, and B) who doesn’t want to watch Dolly collect an Emmy?

The 2021 Primetime Emmys will take place at Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday 19 September