73rd Primetime Emmy Award Nomination Predictions

This year’s Emmy Awards is going to be a sh*tshow. Not in terms of quality – rumors support the theory that the Emmys have been really into the better shows out there, so the odds of an Emily in Paris fiasco are minimal (but not impossible). No, I mean because unlike previous years, series finales and the pandemic have cut out almost every return contender we have. There’s no Watchmen, no Schitt’s Creek, no Succession…hell, 99% of last year’s contenders are out of the mix. For the first time since HBO accidentally forgot to air its two biggest contenders, we are going to have a first time winner in both Comedy and Drama. And while it’s pretty obvious that we’re going to witness the domination of The Crown, Ted Lasso, and Saturday Night Live, that still leaves dozens of other nominees to choose from. So, without further ado, let’s break down my predictions for tomorrow’s Primetime Emmy Award nominations.

Let’s start with the comedies, or as I like to call it, the Lasso-a-thon. Make no mistake, Jason Sudeikis’ word-of-mouth hit is going to dominate the Emmys. It’s solely a matter of how many awards it will be nominated for. I’d say you’d be pretty safe going all in. Best Series is a lock, which means it’ll likely earn two or three nominations in both writing and directing. I’d also say that Sudeikis and Hannah Waddingham are locks to win, and I’m going to bet on Juno Temple, Brendan Hunt, Brett Goldstein, and Nick Mohammed will each dominate the Supporting categories, even if they aren’t likely to win. But after that? Things are completely up in the air. Only two shows from the last few years have a chance of getting nominated – black-ish, which will likely be the big hurrah for network TV (with sole nods for Anderson and Ross, and maybe Fishburne or Lewis with the right circumstances) and The Kominsky Method, which is pretty much exclusively watched by awards voters and should earn nods for Michael Douglas and the writing for its last hurrah.

Amongst the new shows, the three safest bets all come from first-time streaming services: The Flight Attendant, Hacks, and Girls5Eva. Each have pedigree and critical support, and should be the perfect blend of acting, writing, and directing for across-the-board support. Hacks should see a nomination for Jean Smart, while the Tina Fey-produced Girls should find earn writing nods alongside a nomination for Renée Elise Goldsberry (who is fantastic on the show), but if you asked me right now who would win Best Actress, then I’d say look no further than The Flight Attendant’s Kaley Cuoco. Despite never earning a nomination for her work on The Big Bang Theory, Cuoco has a lot of goodwill. And without Catherine O’Hara standing in her way, she should be able to not only earn a nomination, but survive the shootout with the competition.

As for the final slots, you have to start thinking like an Academy voter. Network TV is a mostly-dead zone, but there is certainly some promise. Mr. Mayor is entertaining enough that beloved actor Ted Danson should snag a nomination. The Conners has slowly been rebuilding steam, and given costar Lecy Goranson’s terrific turn this season, I wouldn’t be surprised if she and Laurie Metcalf edged out some “cooler” nominees for their work. And the final slot in Best Actress will likely come down to Jane Levy for Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (which is currently fighting to get picked up after its cancellation) and multi-winner Allison Janney for the final season of Mom. But as for Best Comedy Series, I’d say look for a fan favorite to sneak in – something that got us all through the pandemic, like Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, or Cobra Kai, or Pen15 (we already know voters like that one based on its previous writing award). All I know for sure is that this will be one of the hottest, hippest lineups we’ve seen in ages, and I can’t wait.

As for the Drama categories, we’re in a fairly similar boat. The Crown, which has come close to winning so many times before, is going to dominate. Not only will it win Best Drama Series (if it’s not nominated, that’s the most shocking, egregious snub in the history of the show), but I’d say an acting overhaul is likely. Josh O’Conner is your frontrunner in Best Actor as Prince Charles, Olivia Colman and Emma Corrin will go toe-to-toe in Best Actress (with the young Princess Diana actress likely winning), and Gillian Anderson and Helena Bonham Carter earning nods in Best Supporting Actress. Hell, I’d also call Tobias Menzies a likely nod in Best Supporting Actor, and after her Oscar win last spring, I wouldn’t be surprised if Emerald Fennell won for playing Camilla Parker-Bowles. And naturally, since this is The Crown, expect nods for writing and directing on every episode submitted.

Things are a little bit easier with the Drama categories, as several nominees from the last few years are in contention, meaning things likely won’t be completely new. The Academy are the only ones still watching The Handmaid’s Tale, so expect a sh*tton of nominations for that show’s fourth season – not to mention a handful of its actors, writers, and directors, like Elisabeth Moss, Bradley Whitford, Ann Dowd, Yvonne Strovinski, and Samira Wiley. This Is Us will likely continue as network TV’s death rattle, with nods for Sterling K. Brown and one of the supporting actors (my guess is Chris Sullivan). The Mandalorian should build on its incredible second season’s success and dominate the tech categories alongside a Best Drama nomination (I’d expect a lot of directing nods). And while Pose likely won’t win for its third season, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Academy decides to take some strides towards representation with nods for its cast members not named Billy Porter – someone like MJ Rodriguez (unlikely) or Indya Moore (she has a shot). I’d love to see it, skeptical as I am.

But that still leaves three slots, and a handful of buzzy new shows to pick from. Could Marvel buy its way into a nomination for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier? Could HBO prestige help In Treatment or Perry Mason sneak in, along with nods for the casts (which include Matthew Rhys, John Lithgow, Uzo Aduba, John Benjamin Hickey, and Anthony Ramos)? Oh God, it’s going to be Ratched and Sarah Paulson, isn’t it? After all, Cynthia Nixon is already likely for a nomination. Hopefully not, because I’m leaning towards three spectacle shows that I hope the Emmys will love as much as audiences and critics. The most obvious of these shows is Bridgerton, Netflix’s much-hyped erotic period piece soap opera, which should earn nods for its much-hyped stars Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor (and perhaps a writing or directing nod as well) alongside its Best Drama nomination.

Then there’s Lovecraft Country, which HBO already cancelled due to its price tag, but should still earn a nod for the sheer scope of it alone. Expect its cast to also earn nods (one in each category), and if “Strange Case” doesn’t earn a directing nomination, I’ll eat my shoe. As for that final nominee, I’m going out on a limb and voting from my heart. The Boys should absolutely earn a nomination for Best Drama Series. Amazon is pushing hard for the hilariously bleak satire, and while it’s a hard sell, it does have some support (Barack Obama put it on his list of favorite shows of last year). Here’s hoping it earns a Best Drama nomination – or, in a dream world, acting nods for Antony Starr, Karl Urbanand/or Aya Cash. All three were amongst the best actors of 2020.

And final, there’s the Miniseries categories, which I always put off for a reason. Every year, it feels like it’s too dang hard to just pick five of the many great shows eligible in this category. But this year, that statement is truer than most. While TV Movie is pretty open and shut – pick Actual Movies Sylvie’s Love and Uncle Frank and throw in three others – the miniseries category looks like it has no less than ten winners, let alone nominees. Off the top of my head, there’s The Queen’s Gambit, WandaVision, It’s A Sin, Genius: Aretha, Fargo, The Good Lord Bird, I May Destroy You, The Underground Railroad, Halston, The Comey Rule, The Undoing, Mare of Easttown, and the ultimate “Is It A Movie” brain teaser Small Axe. I do not envy the task of voters in paring that down.

I’d say the safest bets are The Queen’s Gambit and Mare of Easttown. They were both major hits that got lots of people talking, and are the epitome of the “miniseries” (a succinct story broken up over seven parts with great writing, directing, and acting). Look for both shows to earn lots of nominations – Anya Taylor-Joy, Marielle Heller, and Bill Camp for the former, Kate Winslet, Julianne Nicholson, and Jean Smart again for the latter, with Evan Peters potentially breaking in. I’d also say The Underground Railroad has a great shot – it’s the right balance of artsy and electrifying, although don’t be surprised if the white guy (Joel Edgerton) and maybe William Jackson Harper are the only actors to sneak in. And after the chaos with the Globes, where its snub almost single-handedly destroyed the entire organization, there is zero percent chance that I May Destroy You goes home empty-handed – while a snub in Best Miniseries is possible(albeit unlikely), writer/star Michaela Cole will at least earn nods for writing and acting (and may be joined by costar Weruche Opia.

This leaves one slot. Now, personally, I’d love to give this to It’s A Sin, the best show I’ve watched this year. But I get the feeling that no one in the Academy watched it and it will be shut out. I also know that Marvel threw a lot of money at the Academy to get classic TV throwback WandaVision nominated, but that feels more like a play for Elizabeth Olsen (oh, and maybe Kathryn Hahn, who just has a blast throughout). But let’s not kid ourselves: the Emmys love a buzzy, flashy HBO story about murder and Big Acting. It’s going to be The Undoing, which will also earn nods for Hugh Grant and Donald Sutherland (Nicole Kidman, shockingly, will likely be left out due to the competition). Now, this means I am predicting Small Axe to be left out. I do this for two reasons. The first is obvious – it will be too esoteric for most Emmy voters, who similarly snubbed Twin Peaks: The Return. The second is a little more cynical. I just can’t see the Emmys, despite all their “progress,” nominating The Underground Railroad, I May Destroy You, and Small Axe in the same year. At most, we’ll get two. But don’t feel too bad – I predict Small Axe to earn nods for writing and directing, and actors Letitia Wright and John Boyega should be considered frontrunners in their categories.

As for the acting nods in Best Miniseries/TV Movie, I’d flesh out the rest with what I call the “obvious” nods. Cynthia Erivo will absolutely be nominated for playing Aretha Franklin, no matter how popular or unpopular the series is with voters. Ethan Hawke is likely your frontrunner for The Good Lord Bird. And while I’m betting against a well-documented Emmy history of loving political miniseries, I think The Comey Rule will only earn one nomination – Brendan Gleeson’s admittedly excellent turn as former President Trump. Oh, and by the way. Due to a weird technicality in the rules, there will also be a bunch of contenders competing from the Variety Special category, from some indie project called…I want to say Hamilton? Am I spelling that right? Yes, the cultural phenomenon is somehow competing at the Emmys now, and that means a ton of acting nominations. Lin-Manuel Miranda will likely fight for a final slot with Leslie Odom Jr. (unlike Broadway, here fame will win out), Daveed Diggs is a lock for Best Supporting Actor, and if the voters really love Goldsberry on Girls5Eva, look for her to earn a second nomination here.

Some final thoughts on other categories I’m excited about. First and foremost, the aforementioned Variety Special category is certain to be one of the most exciting of the night. Not only is Hamilton eligible, but so is David Byrne’s American Utopia, What the Constitution Means To Me, Beyoncé’s Black Is King, Derek DelGuadio’s In and Of Itself, and recent cultural phenomenon Bo Burnham: Inside. That’s a brutal lineup, and I can’t wait to watch it unfold. There’s a lot of great comedy in the Best Music and Lyrics category (Big Mouth! The Simpsons! “Agatha All Along!”) that will end up losing to Janelle Monaé’s “Turntables.” And I don’t know what magic got Harley Quinn eligible, but I am here for it. And finally, circling back around to the Comedy categories, it’s worth noting that Saturday Night Live, which is losing a lot of cast members (allegedly), has a good chance at several nominations. Kate McKinnon will absolutely earn another nomination for Best Supporting Actress – as will Cecily Strong for her farewell turn. Newcomers Bowen Yang and Chloe Fineman are coming off of terrific seasons, and could certainly get in on their own merits. And above all, Kenan Thompson should likely win after almost twenty years as a cast member (he’ll also likely be nominated in Best Actor for his solo TV series). That is a moment I am personally excited for.

And that wrap up my predictions for tomorrow’s Primetime Emmy Award nominations. I’ll try to have a live announcement post available to you all, depending on my access to a working link. At any rate, I will have the nominees up for you by the end of the day tomorrow, and will have a write-up ready by the end of the week. It’s awards season, guys. Things are finally returning to normal.

Best Drama Series

  • The Boys
  • Bridgerton
  • The Crown
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Lovecraft Country
  • The Mandalorian
  • Pose
  • This Is Us

Best Comedy Series

  • Black-ish
  • The Flight Attendant
  • Girls5Eva
  • Hacks
  • Pen15
  • The Kominsky Method
  • Ted Lasso
  • Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

Best Limited Series

  • I May Destroy You
  • Mare of Easttown
  • The Queen’s Gambit
  • The Underground Railroad
  • The Undoing

Best TV Movie

  • Christmas on the Square
  • Oslo
  • Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia
  • Sylvie’s Love
  • Uncle Frank

Reality Competition Program

  • America Ninja Warrior
  • The Masked Singer
  • Nailed It
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race
  • The Voice

Best Sketch Series

  • A Black Lady Sketch Show
  • Saturday Night Live

Best Talk Series

  • Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
  • The Late Late Show with James Corden
  • Late Night with Seth Meyers

Best Variety Special (Pre-Recorded)

  • Black Is King
  • Bo Burnham: Inside
  • David Byrne’s American Utopia
  • Hamilton
  • What The Constitution Means To Me

Best Animated Program

  • Big Mouth
  • Bob’s Burgers
  • Harley Quinn
  • The Simpsons
  • South Park: The Pandemic Special

Best Actor In A Drama Series

  • 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

Best Actress In A Drama Series

  • Uzo Aduba – In Treatment
  • Olivia Colman – The Crown
  • Emma Corrin – The Crown
  • Phoebe Dynevor – Bridgerton
  • Elisabeth Moss – The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Jurnee Smollett – Lovecraft Country

Best Actor In A Comedy Series

  • Anthony Anderson – Black-ish
  • Ted Danson – Mayor
  • Michael Douglas – The Kominsky Method
  • Jason Sudeikis – Ted Lasso
  • Kenan Thompson – Kenan

Best Actress In A Comedy Series

  • Tracee Ellis Ross – Black-ish
  • Reneé Elise Goldsberry – Girls5Eva
  • Kaley Cuoco – The Flight Attendant
  • Jean Smart – Hacks
  • Allison Janney – Mom

Best Actor In A Limited Series/TV Movie

  • Bryan Cranston – Your Honor
  • Joel Edgerton – The Underground Railroad
  • Hugh Grant – The Undoing
  • Ethan Hawke – The Good Lord Bird
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda – Hamilton

Best Actress In A Limited Series/TV Movie

  • Micaela Cole – I May Destroy You
  • Cynthia Erivo – Genius: Aretha
  • Elizabeth Olsen – WandaVision
  • Anya Taylor-Joy – The Queen’s Gambit
  • Kate Winslet – Mare of Easttown

Best Supporting Actor In A Drama Series

  • Giancarlo Esposito – The Mandalorian
  • John Benjamin Hickey – In Treatment
  • John Lithgow – Perry Mason
  • Tobias Menzies – The Crown
  • Anthony Ramos – In Treatment
  • Chris Sullivan – This Is Us
  • Bradley Whitford – The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Michael K. Williams – Lovecraft Country

Best Supporting Actress In A Drama Series

  • Gillian Anderson – The Crown
  • Helena Bonham Carter – The Crown
  • Ann Dowd – The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Indya Moore – Pose
  • Wunmi Mosaku – Lovecraft Country
  • Cynthia Nixon – Ratched
  • Yvonne Strovinski – The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Samira Wiley – The Handmaid’s Tale

Best Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series

  • Brett Goldstein – Ted Lasso
  • Michael Huisman – The Flight Attendant
  • Brendan Hunt – Ted Lasso
  • Nick Mohammed – Ted Lasso
  • Alex Newell – Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
  • Ray Romano – Made For Love
  • Kenan Thompson – Saturday Night Live

Best Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series

  • Lecy Goranson – The Conners
  • Kate McKinnon – Saturday Night Live
  • Laurie Metcalf – The Conners
  • Rosie Perez – The Flight Attendant
  • Cecily Strong – Saturday Night Live
  • Juno Temple – Ted Lasso
  • Hannah Waddingham – Ted Lasso

Best Supporting Actor In A Limited Series/TV Movie

  • John Boyega – Small Axe
  • Bill Camp – The Queen’s Gambit
  • Daveed Diggs – Hamilton
  • Brendan Gleeson – The Comey Rule
  • William Jackson Harper – The Underground Railroad
  • Donald Sutherland – The Undoing

Best Supporting Actress In A Limited Series/TV Movie

  • Renée Elise Goldsberry – Hamilton
  • Kathryn Hahn – WandaVision
  • Marielle Heller – The Queen’s Gambit
  • Julianne Nicholson – Mare of Easttown
  • Jean Smart – Mare of Easttown
  • Letitia Wright – Small Axe

Best Guest Actor In A Drama Series

  • Michael Angarano – This Is Us
  • Charles Dance – The Crown
  • Patrick Dempsey – Grey’s Anatomy
  • Timothy Olyphant – The Mandalorian
  • Courtney B. Vance – Lovecraft Country

Best Guest Actress In A Drama Series

  • Alexis Bledel – The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Rosario Dawson – The Mandalorian
  • Claire Foy – The Crown
  • Phylicia Rashad – This Is Us
  • Angelica Ross – Pose

Best Guest Actor In A Comedy Series

  • Aziz Ansari – Master of None
  • Dave Chappelle – Saturday Night Live
  • William Hurt – Mythic Quest
  • Daniel Kaluuya – Saturday Night Live
  • Regé-Jean Page – Saturday Night Live

Best Guest Actress In A Comedy Series

  • Andrea Anders – Ted Lasso
  • Candice Bergen – The Conners
  • Tina Fey – Girls5Eva
  • Maya Rudolph – Saturday Night Live
  • Kristen Wiig – Saturday Night Live

Best Directing In A Drama Series

  • “Chapter 9: The Marshal” – The Mandalorian
  • “Chapter 14: The Tragedy” – The Mandalorian
  • “Fairytale” – The Crown
  • “Strange Case” – Lovecraft Country
  • “Testimony” – The Handmaid’s Tale
  • “War” – The Crown
  • “The Wilderness” – The Handmaid’s Tale

Best Directing In A Comedy Series

  • “Chapter 17. In All The Old Familiar Places” – The Kominsky Method
  • “Biscuits” – Ted Lasso
  • “The Hope That Kills You” – Ted Lasso
  • “In Case Of Emergency” – The Flight Attendant
  • “Make Rebecca Great Again” – Ted Lasso
  • “There Is No Line” – Hacks
  • “Zoey’s Extraordinary Double Date” – Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

Best Directing In A Limited Series/TV Movie

  • Hamilton
  • Mare of Easttown
  • The Queen’s Gambit
  • Small Axe
  • The Underground Railroad

Best Writing In A Drama Series

  • “Diamond Of The First Water” – Bridgerton
  • “Eladio: Week 1” – In Treatment
  • “Progress” – The Handmaid’s Tale
  • “Series Finale” – Pose
  • “Sundown” – Lovecraft Country
  • “War” – The Crown
  • “The Wilderness” – The Handmaid’s Tale 

Best Writing In A Comedy Series

  • “Chapter 17. In All The Old Familiar Places” – The Kominsky Method
  • “In Case Of Emergency” – The Flight Attendant
  • “Make Rebecca Great Again” – Ted Lasso
  • “Pilot” – Girls5Eva
  • “Pilot” – Ted Lasso
  • “There Is No Line” – Hacks
  • “Vendy Wiccany” – Pen15

Best Writing In A Miniseries/TV Movie

  • “Chapter 10: Mabel” – The Underground Railroad
  • I May Destroy You
  • “Mangrove” – Small Axe
  • Mare of Easttown
  • The Queen’s Gambit

Best Writing In A Variety Special

  • Bo Burnham: Inside
  • Borat Supplemental Reportings
  • Death To 2020
  • Derek DelGuadio’s In & Of Itself
  • 8:46 

Best Music and Lyrics

  • “Agatha All Along” – WandaVision
  • “Been To War” – Godfather Of Harlem
  • “Comedy” – Bo Burnham: Inside
  • “Crimson Love” – Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
  • “4 Stars” – Girls5Eva
  • “Murder Show” – Saturday Night Live
  • “Turntables” – All In: The Fight For Democracy

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