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
Emily in Paris
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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