2021 Primetime Emmy Nominees: An Analysis

A Potpourri of Vestiges Feature

By Murtaza Ali Khan

The nominees for the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards have been announced. The awards night will be held in Los Angeles on September 19, 2021. Now, some of the Indian shows have tasted some success at the International Emmy Awards in the recent times but some media outlets have failed to distinguish them from the Primetime Emmy Awards. So, let me clarify that the Primetime Emmys are bestowed by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in recognition of excellence in American primetime television programming. These are different from the International Emmy Awards bestowed by the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in recognition to the best television programs initially produced and aired outside the United States.

In recent times, we are witnessing some of the most fascinating experiments taking place in American television space. In fact, American television today is far ahead of American cinema. Looking the 73rd Primetime Emmy nominations, the first thing that one notices is the open-mindedness of the Television Academy voters. Can there be anything more exciting than seeing The Mandalorian top the list with 24 nominations (tied with The Crown) followed by WandaVision with 23 nods. While Lovecraft Country got 18 nods, Mare of Easttown ended up with 16. Another offering from Disney in the superhero space, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, has scored 5 nominations.

In terms of numbers, HBO and HBO Max are clear winners here with a total of 130 nominations (94 and 36, respectively). Netflix finished close second with 129 nominations. Apple TV’s comedy show Ted Lasso has also emerged as a favourite with 20 nominations. Hacks, also in the comedy space, picked up 15 nominations. Hacks and Ted Lasso will be competing against Black-ish, Cobra Kai, Emily in Paris, The Flight Attendant, The Kominsky Method, and Pen15 for Outstanding Comedy Series.

One feels really happy to see The Queen’s Gambit getting acknowledged with 18 nominations and would be a frontrunner for Outstanding Limited Series along with WandaVision, The Underground Railroad and Mare of Easttown. Among the new entries, Netflix’s Bridgerton has emerged as a strong contender with 12 nominations. It would be vying with The Boys, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Crown, The Mandalorian, This is Us, Lovecraft Country for Outstanding Drama Series.

Also, Perry Mason scores deservedly in the departments of acting, cinematography, and production design. Essaying the eponymous part in the series, Matthew Rhys seems to have picked up from where he left in The Americans. Also, it’s heartening to see Cobra Kai getting some much-deserved attention. Ewan McGregor is always a delight to watch and his nomination for Halston is certainly well deserved.

However, The Underground Railroad put up a rather disappointing show. While Barry Jenkins’ mesmeric work did pick up a nomination for Outstanding Limited Series, Thuso Mbedu failed to get the nod for Outstanding Lead Actress which is really a travesty. But given its scathing criticism of white supremacy as well as the philosophical undertones it was always going to find it hard to win any major awards. Also, Steve McQueen’s Small Axe is totally overlooked which is just unacceptable. Further, it’s very disappointing to see Raised by Wolves getting just one solitary nomination and that too for Main Title Design. It’s really the definitive Sci-Fi show on offer right now and certainly deserves a lot more praise and appreciation for its actors and creative/technical members.

The Good Lord Bird is another important show to get snubbed with Ethan Hawke’s brilliant portrayal of the abolitionist John Brown getting completely overlooked. Fargo is another important show to have missed out this time around. Also, I would have been happy to see Pedro Pascal get a nomination for The Mandalorian. Yes, his character is always wearing a suit and a helmet but there is no denying that Pascal owns the part. But it’s heartening to see Giancarlo Esposito scoring a much deserved nomination for his supporting part in The Mandalorian.

Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale is here again as if it’s customary for the Emmy voters to reserve sports for the Elisabeth Moss show out of sheer respect for what it has achieved over the years. But as good as Elisabeth Moss has been as Offred, I believe that Amanda Collin as Mother in Raised by the Wolves is better than her this year. Sarah Paulson and Judy Davis also deserved nominations for Ratched but clearly the show is not a favourite of the Emmy voters.

Clearly, this year’s Primetime Emmy nominations are far from being spot on with several notable omissions but overall I am not too disappointed as I see progression which is always pivotal to any medium’s growth.

A version of this article was first published in The Daily Guardian.

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