All The Shows I've Personally Decided Should Win A 2021 Emmy

Writer Nick Bhasin has no qualms saying that a TV show should win an Emmy on the basis that he would like them to. Pore over his picks below.

Most of Australia is in lockdown and sometimes it’s hard to know if and how things will get better. Can we trust our leaders? Can we trust each other? How does one begin to “have a picnic”?

And so, desperate for some stability and consistency, we turn to the 73rd annual Emmy Awards, taking place Monday morning our time.

Now, it must be acknowledged that attempting to predict Emmy winners may be slightly arrogant. And to determine who should win an Emmy dangerously implies the presence of some universal law or force determining what is right and what is wrong. It’s like playing God!

And yet, I am willing to do both – in the same article.

Sometimes, who will win and who should win are the same thing and you’ll find that life makes sense. But sometimes… and it terrifies me to even mention this possibility… sometimes what is and what should be do not always align. It’s perhaps the saddest part of being alive. And that’s what makes the Emmys so thrilling, especially when they’re filtered through my extraordinarily biased and stubbornly detached-from-reality worldview.

So how did I decide what will and should win?

A lot of showbiz fortune tellers will prognosticate based on meticulous research – past winners, Television Academy voting patterns, which nominees give off that “winner stench”, and so on.

But I haven’t done that research. We’re in Year Two of a pandemic

No, what I’ve done is decided that a show will win because it just feels like it’s going to happen. And I have a right to my feelings.

And I know a show should win because I like it. And because I like it, it is the best. The shows I don’t like? Well, they deserve nothing. Absolutely zero.

Best Comedy

Black-ish (ABC)

Cobra Kai (Netflix)

Emily in Paris (Netflix)

Hacks (HBO Max)

The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)

The Kominsky Method (Netflix)

PEN15 (Hulu)

Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)

Will win: Ted Lasso

Should win: I Think You Should Leave or Search Party

This is a tricky category because a lot of these shows are not comedies. You can tell because some of them are explicitly dramas and some of them have zero laughs.

Ted Lasso had a legitimately great first season. It pulled off something almost unimaginable – a feel-good, positive show that was actually funny. It was such an impressive feat that people are furious about how the second season isn’t living up to the first. And now other people are furious at those people.

But Lasso wasn’t nearly as funny as I Think You Should Leave, which is the funniest show on TV. The second season premiered in July, so it didn’t make the cut (the qualifying period for Emmy consideration was June 1, 2020 – May 31, 2021), but they should have made an exception. Also Search Party is one of the best shows of the last decade and it’s a crime that it wasn’t nominated.

Best Drama

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

Bridgerton (Netflix)

The Crown (Netflix)

The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

Lovecraft Country (HBO)

The Mandalorian (Disney+)

Pose (FX)

This Is Us (NBC)

Will win: The Crown

Should win: Succession

The Crown is going to clean up at these awards. It’s entertaining, it’s about royalty and it appears to be popular.

But Succession is a truly great show. It’s funny and tragic and uncomfortable. Of course, the third season was delayed until next month. Doesn’t matter. It’s going to be great and it should have won prizes even though no one has seen it yet.

If Succession didn’t exist, I suppose I’d go with The Mandalorian, which is fun and well done, or The Boys, which is very dark and nasty and unique. And it’s a nice rebuttal to all the superhero saturation.

Best Limited Series

I May Destroy You (HBO)

Mare of Easttown (HBO)

The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)

The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime)

WandaVision (Disney+)

Will win: I May Destroy You

Should win: I May Destroy You or The Underground Railroad

I would love to hear how WandaVision deserved a nomination but The Good Lord Bird, based on John Brown’s mission to abolish slavery, does not. I mean fun is fun, but come on.

That said, this is probably the best category.

I May Destroy You is great – intense and moving and I’ve never seen anything like it. Mare of Easttown and The Queen’s Gambit are very entertaining.

The Underground Railroad is masterful and manages to find moments of humanity under unspeakably inhuman circumstances. And I refuse to choose between it and I May Destroy You.

Best Actress, Comedy

Aidy Bryant, Shrill

Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant

Allison Janney, Mom

Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish

Jean Smart, Hacks

Will win: Jean Smart

Should win: Jean Smart, for Fargo

Jean Smart is on a roll. She’s good in Hacks and she’s really good in Mare of Easttown. But she was great as the nasty mob boss in season two of Fargo. She was nominated for that but didn’t win, so I’m giving her the win here. That’s how this works.

Best Actor, Comedy

Anthony Anderson, Black-ish

Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method

William H. Macy, Shameless

Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso

Kenan Thompson, Kenan

Will win: Jason Sudeikis

Should win: Jason Sudeikis

I think I made my point about I Think You Should Leave, so I won’t jam Tim Robinson in there. But everyone is on notice.

The first season of Ted Lasso succeeds because of how upbeat and funny Sudeikis is. He’s clearly set up to be a loser and it’s a lot of fun to watch him fight against that with positivity. (Here's hoping for another great speech.) 

Best Actress, Drama

Uzo Aduba, In Treatment

Olivia Colman, The Crown

Emma Corrin, The Crown

Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale

Mj Rodriguez, Pose

Jurnee Smollett, Lovecraft Country

Will win: Emma Corrin. No wait Uzo Aduba. No, no. Let’s go with Corrin.

Should win: Mj Rodriguez

Nothing really stands out to me here so I’m going to go for making history. Mj Rodriguez is the first trans woman to be nominated for a lead acting Emmy and even though I think Pose is uneven, I’d like to see her win.

Best Actor, Drama

Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

Jonathan Majors, Lovecraft Country

Josh O’Connor, The Crown

Regé-Jean Page, Bridgerton

Billy Porter, Pose

Matthew Rhys, Perry Mason

Will win: Josh O’Connor

Should win: Hologram Raymond Burr. Or Antony Starr

O’Connor is pretty good as Prince Charles, but as much as I like Matthew Rhys, Perry Mason should have been played by a hologram Raymond Burr, who played the character in the ’50s and ’60s.

Also, Antony Starr is great in The Boys and I refuse to tolerate such a snub.

Best Actress, Limited Series or TV Movie

Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You

Cynthia Erivo, Genius: Aretha

Elizabeth Olsen, WandaVision

Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen’s Gambit

Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown

Will win: Michaela Coel

Should win: Michaela Coel

I loved Anya Taylor-Joy, but Michaela Coel’s performance is so raw and striking that it’s hard to look any other way.

Best 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: Hugh Grant

Should win: Ethan Hawke, The Good Lord Bird

There are 34,587 TV shows and they had to nominate two guys from a filmed stage musical? When Ethan Hawke is just sitting there? He played John Brown with fire and fury – while somehow de-centring the character! And we nominate the robot superhero and Hugh Grant, who could play “the rich guy who probably did it” in his sleep?

Ridiculous. Either the Academy has zero imagination, or they only really watched five things all year.

Supporting Actress, Comedy

Aidy Bryant, Saturday Night Live

Hannah Einbinder, Hacks

Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

Rosie Perez, The Flight Attendant

Cecily Strong, Saturday Night Live

Juno Temple, Ted Lasso

Hannah Waddingham, Ted Lasso

Will win: Hannah Waddingham

Should win: Patti Harrison, I Think You Should Leave or Meredith Hagner for Search Party

A lot of people said that Ted Lasso was just like the 1989 movie Major League and that Hannah Waddingham’s role was very similar to the female owner character, which is kind of true. So it’s even more of a testament to the writing and Waddingham’s performance that she pulls it off.

I actually didn’t think about Major League once while I was watching the first season. During season two, however, I thought about Major League, Major League II, Major League: Back to the Minors, anything that might save me.

But no recent actress’ performances made me laugh more than Harrison and Hagner. They’re incredible.

Supporting Actor, Comedy

Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Hacks

Brett Goldstein, Ted Lasso

Brendan Hunt, Ted Lasso

Nick Mohammed, Ted Lasso

Paul Reiser, The Kominsky Method

Jeremy Swift, Ted Lasso

Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live

Bowen Yang, Saturday Night Live

Will win: Brett Goldstein

Should win: Nick Mohammed

Again, there are 89,387 TV shows. Why are there FOUR Ted Lasso nominations here?

That said, all these guys were pretty funny, so you could give it to any one of them and I’d be all right with it. (And that’s what matters.)

Supporting Actress, Drama

Gillian Anderson, The Crown

Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown

Madeline Brewer, The Handmaid’s Tale

Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale

Aunjanue Ellis, Lovecraft Country

Emerald Fennell, The Crown

Yvonne Strahovski, The Handmaid’s Tale

Samira Wiley, The Handmaid’s Tale

Will win: Helena Bonham Carter

Should win: Sarah Snook for Succession

So there were no good supporting actress performances in a drama outside of three shows? Fine. This one goes to Snook. She’s great.

Supporting Actor, Drama

Giancarlo Esposito, The Mandalorian

O-T Fagbenle, The Handmaid’s Tale

John Lithgow, Perry Mason

Tobias Menzies, The Crown

Max Minghella, The Handmaid’s Tale

Chris Sullivan, This Is Us

Bradley Whitford, The Handmaid’s Tale

Michael K. Williams, Lovecraft Country

Will win: Tobias Menzies

Should win: Michael K. Williams

Sad fact: Michael K. Williams was never nominated for playing Omar on The Wire. Not even nominated!

I love Giancarlo Esposito and Tobias Menzies, but they’re going to need to step aside this year. Not only was Williams, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 54, really talented, he also appears to have been an incredibly decent human being. He was open about his history of addiction and his desire to help others. And in an interview with Marc Maron, he exhibited an uncommon grace and appreciation for life. Such a loss.

Lovecraft Country, HBO

Supporting Actress, Limited Series or a Movie

Renée Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton

Kathryn Hahn, WandaVision

Moses Ingram, The Queen’s Gambit

Julianne Nicholson, Mare of Easttown

Jean Smart, Mare of Easttown

Phillipa Soo, Hamilton

Will win: Kathryn Hahn

Should win: Jean Smart

I’m not that into these superhero shows but I would never begrudge Kathryn Hahn any success because she is hilarious in Anchorman and Step Brothers, two of the greatest comedies of all time.

But I think it would be fun if Jean Smart won twice, so that’s what should happen.

Supporting Actor, Limited Series or Movie

Thomas Brodie-Sangster, The Queen’s Gambit

Daveed Diggs, Hamilton

Paapa Essiedu, I May Destroy You

Jonathan Groff, Hamilton

Anthony Ramos, Hamilton

Evan Peters, Mare of Easttown

Will win: Evan Peters

Should win: Paapa Essiedu

Evan Peters is central to the best thing about Mare of Easttown – the ending of the fifth episode. It wasn’t “The Red Wedding”, but it was pretty good.

But Paapa Essiedu does a lot in I May Destroy You. He’s light and fun but also intensely troubled and provides a lot of the show’s richness.

So there you have it. Who will win and who should win. Next week, we’ll go through Emmy history and determine which awards should be taken away and given to others. The decisions, I’m afraid, will be binding.

This is an essential opinion piece (though all the opinions are facts) written by Nick Bhasin. Follow him on Twitter @nickbhasin.

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