It’s that time again: for Hollywood to take a look at what it’s done on the small screen and definitively say what’s the best of the best. This year (like last year) is a little. While last year’s Emmy’s was the first awards ceremony in the age of the Covid-19 pandemic, this year is the first where the television shows selected were actually made and seen during the pandemic. As we had to endure lockdowns, we got to spend a great deal more time indoors and we most likely spent a bulk of that time-consuming pop culture on our television sets/streaming boxes. Hopefully, this won’t be an ongoing tradition (get your damn shots people!), but at the same time, we can’t deny that TV this past year has been outstanding. Tomorrow night, we get to see who gets to take home the Emmy for their respective categories.
Just like last year: there will be some shows on this list that I have not personally seen. There’s just too much content out nowadays and some shows either didn’t peak my interest at the time, or I somehow missed them. So for some of these predictions, I will need once again to rely on the expertise of other critics, friends, or social media feedback. Hopefully, I’m not as wrong as I was last year.
So, who should take home the trophies?
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:
Nominees: Anthony Anderson (Black-Ish), Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method), William H. Macy (Shameless), Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso), and Kenan Thompson (Kenan)
Anthony Anderson and William H. Macy both are iconic as Dre and Frank Gallagher on their respective shows that are coming to an end, and it’s a shame that both of them have been nominated countless times and never took home the trophy. It would make sense for either of them to win in the Swan Song seasons of Black-Ish and Shameless, but unfortunately, this trophy is Jason Sudeikis’ to lose. Ted Lasso the character is just as much of a gift of Ted Lasso the show. Somehow Sudeikis managed to make the American football coach turned ill-fitted soccer coach into one of the most lovable characters of last year. He absolutely should take home the prize as his character was basically all the hope and optimism of the world manifested into a single being.
Will Win: Jason Sudeikis
Should Win: Jason Sudeikis
Khalil would love to win: Jason Sudeikis
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:
Nominees: Aidy Bryant (Shrill), Kaley Cuoco (The Flight Attendant), Allison Janney (Mom), Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-Ish), and Jean Smart (Hacks)
As with Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross has consistently been amazing in Black-Ish. While Allison Janney has won the Supporting Actress Emmy for Mom in the past, she hasn’t since her character Bonnie was elevated. However, Jean Smart is a friggin force of nature. Her performance in Hacks was great. It will be very hard for her not to take home the Emmy for this category.
Will Win: Jean Smart
Should Win: Jean Smart
Khalil would love to win: Tracee Ellis Ross
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:
Nominees: Carl Clemons-Hopkins as Marcus Vaughan (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), and Bowen Yang (Saturday Night Live)
Boy, it really seems like the “which character from Ted Lasso was the best” category! Well, it’s because the supporting cast was so damn good! While Kenan Thompson should get some award for all the gems he has given us on Saturday Night Live throughout the years, Brett Goldstein as Roy Kent on Ted Lasso has been golden. As a foul mothed aging soccer player, Roy Kent was everyone’s favorite. Goldstein managed to deliver perfect comedic timing with Kent’s bluntness and his ever so foul mouth that it’s no surprise that he’s favored to win. However, don’t be surprised if Nick Mohammed somehow squeezes a win out of it as well for his portrayal of Nathan Shelley on Ted Lasso.
Will Win: Brett Goldstein
Should Win: Brett Goldstein
Khalil would love to win: Brett Goldstein
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series:
Nominees: 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), and Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso)
I really don’t want to say Ted Lasso should win all the awards, but let’s keep it real, the show is great, as are the performers. The only real stiff competition for Hannah Waddingham would possibly be Juno Temple or Kate McKinnon from Saturday Night Live. The only other thing I’ve seen Hannah Waddingham previously in was being the “Shame!” lady in Game of Thrones, but in Ted Lasso, she’s outstanding as the owner of AFC Richmond who hires the titular character as a joke to get back at her ex-husband after getting the soccer team in a divorce, but she’s a full-fledged character who battles her own demons, is hilarious, and experiences a great amount of growth throughout the show.
Will Win: Hannah Waddingham
Should Win: Hannah Waddingham
Could Win: Juno Temple or Kate McKinnon
Khalil would love to win: Rosie Perez, because she’s Rosie Perez!
Outstanding Comedy Series:
Nominees: Black-ish, Cobra Kai, Emily in Paris, The Flight Attendant, Hacks, The Kominsky Method, PEN15, and Ted Lasso
While I’m ecstatic that Cobra Kai was nominated (now that it found a home on Netflix that increased its awareness on the public lexicon), it was a little weird that it was nominated as a comedy as there are many dramatic elements, especially in the latest season of the show (once again William Zabka shoulda been nominated!), for best comedy, it absolutely has to be Ted Lasso. Premiering in one of the worst years of recent memory, Ted Lasso was the giant hug from Hollywood that you didn’t even know you needed. Jason Sudeikis turning a Mr. Rogers-like character from an old NBC sports promo into a full-fledged comedy series about the power of positivity is funny when it needs to be, sad when it needs to be, and most importantly hopefully when it needs to be. While it would be nice for Black-Ish to finally win in its last season, there’s no denying that Ted Lasso is such a breath of fresh air just when the world needed it.
Will Win: Ted Lasso
Should Win: Ted Lasso
Khalil would love to win: Ted Lasso
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie:
Nominees: Paul Bettany as Vision on (WandaVision), Hugh Grant (The Undoing) Ewan McGregor (Halston), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), and Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton)
It’s kind of a cheat code to have Hamilton be in this category. When Disney+ added Hamilton to its library, it already had the baggage of being one of the best plays of all time, now a TV movie of one of the performances complete with outstanding directing for the movie only increased its already substantial domination on the public lexicon. It sucks because Paul Bettany did a great job in Wandavision after dropping the “what is grief” monologue, and Hugh Grant was also great in The Undoing. However, Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr on Hamilton isn’t even fair to everyone else. Every solo song he sang exhumed the pathos of the character with every note and dance move he did throughout the 160-minute film.
Will Win: Leslie Odom Jr.
Should Win: Paul Bettany
Khalil would love to win: Paul Bettany
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie:
Nominees: Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You), Cynthia Erivo (Genius: Aretha) Elizabeth Olsen (WandaVision), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit), and Kate Winslet (Mare of Easttown)
Good God, this is a tough one! Literally, any one of these women could take the prize and you’d get no argument from me. All put out ageless performances through their respective shows. All have been highly favored. In fact, this is such a tossup/wild card category, it’s almost impossible to choose which one should take home the prize. Michaela Coel transformed her real-life tragedy into a masterpiece that she not only expertly acted in, but also wrote and directed at the same time. I already had I May Destroy You as the Best New TV Show of 2020, so it’s kind of hard not to award the face of that show for her performance. At the same time though, Anya Taylor-Joy crushed it in The Queen’s Gambit and actually made chess seem interesting, Cynthia Erivo was awesome as Aretha Franklin, and Elizabeth Olsen showed that the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be just as awesome on the small screen as it is on the big screen. And Kate Winslet, well, she’s Kate Winslet!
Will Win: Anya Taylor-Joy or Kate Winslet
Should Win: Michaela Coel
Khalil would love to win: Michaela Coel
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie:
Nominees: Thomas Brodie-Sangster (The Queen’s Gambit), Daveed Diggs (Hamilton), Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You), Jonathan Groff (Hamilton), Evan Peters (Mare of Easttown), and Anthony Ramos (Hamilton)
Daveed Diggs continues to be a force of nature! His absolutely nailed performance as Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton so don’t be surprised if he is awarded the prize. However, Evan Peters who has been devouring the small screen for the last decade on American Horror Story (and should have been nominated countless times before for his work on the horror anthology show) was great in Mare of Easttown. My pick, however, would be Paapa Essiedu for his performance on I May Destroy You. His character Kwame was the victim of a sexual violation from another man, and he delivered a multilayered performance about what men have to go through when they are the victim of sexual assault and the stigma of “not being a man” that goes along with it and was of the best performances in the category.
Will Win: Daveed Diggs or Evan Peters
Should Win: Paapa Essiedu
Khalil would love to win: Paapa Essiedu
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie:
Nominees: Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton), Kathryn Hahn (WandaVision), Moses Ingram (The Queen’s Gambit), Julianne Nicholson (Mare of Easttown), Jean Smart (Mare of Easttown), and Phillipa Soo (Hamilton)
Another very hard category! Renée Elise Goldsberry should automatically win some award just for her Hamilton performance of “Satisfied” as she not only displayed raw emotion during the performance, but she rapped like 20,000 words per minute with the delivery of Busta Rhymes of Twista and you could still take in every single word she said perfectly. Phillipa Soo almost made hard tough guys like me almost cry in the final number “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.” Damnit Jean Smart, stop being so awesome! I already favored you for one award! While Moses Ingram probably won’t win, she was also pitch-perfect on The Queen’s Gambit. But we all know it’s “Agatha All Along!” Kathryn Hahn as “Agness the nosey neighbor” who really was Agatha Harkness absolutely nailed it in Wandavision. All comics fans all knew she was the bad guy, but when it was revealed, we all sat there in shock still, because Kathryn Hahn was just that damn good!
Will Win: Kathryn Hahn
Should Win: Kathryn Hahn
Khalil would love to win: Kathryn Hahn
Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series:
Nominees: I May Destroy You, Mare of Easttown, The Queen’s Gambit, The Underground Railroad, and WandaVision.
Pretty much every show on this list is pitch-perfect. I have an admitted bias for I May Destroy You, so that’s what I probably am gunning for, but honestly, any of these can win and I’d be happy with the results. I’m not even going to try and justify one over the other, these all are winners in my book.
Will Win: Any of them!
Should Win: Any of them!
Khalil would love to win: I May Destroy You
Outstanding Variety Talk Series:
Nominees: Conan, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
John Oliver has been the heir apparent to Jon Stewart since he left The Daily Show in 2015. Last Week Tonight has consistently won the Emmy for this category and most likely will win again. His work during the pandemic in his “white void” has been as hard-hitting as it’s always been. He will most likely take home yet another Emmy. While his show is outstanding, it’s a weekly show. I tend to look deeper at shows that produce on a daily basis, and I have a soft spot for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah as they managed to deliver day after day from Trevor’s apartment during the pandemic. Trevor took the beloved show and made it his own, especially in the light of the George Floyd protests that happened during the pandemic. Let’s also not forget, Conan O’Brien retired from Conan after almost 30 years as a late-night talk show host. As someone who was supposed to host The Tonight Show but then had it stripped from him, he only won the Emmy one year (and it was for writing). Conan winning could be an upset for his lifelong work in late night.
Will Win: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Might Win: Conan
Should Win: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver/The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Khalil would love to win: The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Outstanding Variety Sketch Series:
Nominees: A Black Lady Sketch Show and Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is the OG vet when it comes to sketch comedy. For the past 46 years, they have delivered sketches in our homes and produced plenty of our favorite comedic talent for multiple generations. While some people may say that SNL is stale as of late, that’s still debatable as they were awesome during the Trump years. The only other nominee is HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show, which sorry to say, was incredibly funnier than SNL has been of late. Robin Thede and her incredible group of writers have been hilarious week after week on A Black Lady Sketch Show and have a very strong chance of dethroning the king.
Will Win: Saturday Night Live
Should Win: A Black Lady Sketch Show
Khalil would love to win: A Black Lady Sketch Show
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series:
Nominees: Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us), Jonathan Majors (Lovecraft Country), Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles (The Crown), Regé-Jean Page (Bridgerton), Billy Porter (Pose), and Matthew Rhys (Perry Mason)
This is a pretty stacked list. Sterling K Brown, Matthew Rhys, and Billy Porter have already won the coveted prize previously. However, all three of them delivered powerhouse performances for each of their shows this past year. Regé-Jean Page literally came out of nowhere for his performance in Bridgerton and swooned the whole country as the Duke of Hastings. Josh O’Connor pretty much is Prince Charles on The Crown, and Jonathan Majors absolutely nailed it in Lovecraft Country. This is a very open field. However, I think that Billy Porter put his heart and soul into the final season of Pose, especially with the news that his character echoed his real-life experience, he once again shows that he’s a force to be reckoned with.
Will Win: Josh O’Connor
Should Win: Billy Porter
Khalil would love to win: Jonathan Majors because HBO shouldn’t have canceled Lovecraft Country!
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series:
Nominees: Uzo Aduba (In Treatment), Olivia Colman (The Crown), Emma Corrin (The Crown), Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale), MJ Rodriguez (Pose), and Jurnee Smollett (Lovecraft Country)
This is another tough one. Each of the nominees delivered outstanding performances. Like Josh O’Connor, Emma Corrin literally is Princess Diana on The Crown. Uzo Aduba’s performance on In Treatment was great, especially when this season had her be a virtual therapist and she’s literally performing most of the role acting against another character on a Zoom screen. If you had to do virtual work in the past year, you know how difficult it is to be engaged with someone via Zoom, and she absolutely nailed it. MJ Rodriguez finally got recognition for her performance as Blanca on Pose (and correctly labeled in the correct category of “Actress”), is the first transgendered nominee in history, and she has been giving peak performances throughout the show’s 3 season run. And we cannot forget Jurnee Smollett’s performance as “Leti f*cking Lewis” on Lovecraft Country. Her walking through the fire during the Tulsa riot was as powerful as it was iconic.
Will Win: Emma Corrin
Should Win: MJ Rodriguez
Khalil would love to win: Jurnee Smollett
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:
Nominees: 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 as Toby Damon (This Is Us), Bradley Whitford (The Handmaid’s Tale), and Michael K. Williams (Lovecraft Country)
First off, why the hell wasn’t Carl Lumbly nominated for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier?!? Even if he didn’t meet the criteria for Supporting Actor (which I think he should have) he should have gotten Guest Actor. His performance as Isaiah Bradley was incredible and it’s a damn shame he got no love for it! Rant over!
While everyone did a great job (I’m glad Chris Sullivan finally got acknowledged for This Is Us), this is Michael K. Williams’ award! Even before his recent death, he was outstanding as Montrose Freeman on Lovecraft Country. Michael K. Williams has always put his heart and soul into his performances, and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences still owes him a forgotten Emmy for being Omar from The Wire. His performance in Lovecraft Country was beyond incredible and his death shouldn’t garner a “sympathy vote” as he already was a shoo-in for the win.
Will Win: Michael K. Williams
Should Win: Michael K. Williams
Khalil would love to win: Michael K. Williams
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:
Nominees: 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), and Samira Wiley (The Handmaid’s Tale)
This is pretty much the “who was the best in either The Handmaid’s Tale or The Crown” award. Pretty much the supporting cast from both shows was been outstanding. Gillian Anderson is favored for her performance of Margaret Thatcher on The Crown and once again, these actors/actresses are literally turning into real-life historical figures on that show. Aunjanue Ellis, the only actor not from either of those shows delivered a great performance as Hippolyta on Lovecraft Country. However, Ann Dowd was exceptionally great as the vile Aunt Lydia on the latest season of The Handmaid’s Tale and could possibly walk home with the Emmy.
Will Win: Gillian Anderson
Should Win: Ann Dowd
Khalil would love to win: Aunjanue Ellis
Outstanding Drama Series:
Nominees: The Boys, Bridgerton, The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, Lovecraft Country, The Mandalorian, Pose, and This Is Us
Let’s just take a breath and acknowledge that The Boys and The Mandalorian are nominated for Best Drama! One is a comic book, and the other is Star Wars! Genre is usually frowned upon when considering awards and it’s incredibly awesome that we geeks are finally not being ignored.
Unfortunately, those two shows face stiff competition. The Handmaid’s Tale bounced back for a strong fourth season of the dystopian show. This Is Us continued to make us cry. Bridgerton took a simple premise of an old English dating season, added some color to it, and became appointment TV. And The Crown finally gave us a more recent (and more sensationalized) history of the British Royal Family, as well as outstanding performances from the cast.
And let’s not forget Lovecraft Country! Why HBO shot themselves in the foot by canceling this gem of a show and it makes no damn sense! The show was a perfect mix of drama, action, genre (we had vampires, Indiana Jones-style exploring, witchcraft and spells, body-swapping, nine-tailed foxes, the multiverse, and countless other things that make it exceptionally awesome to a guy like me), and most importantly: race. In most horror, the back person is the first to die, or the support of the white hero. In Lovecraft Country the true horror is racism, and black people take front and center stage as the heroes of their own stories. It’s weird that something like that is considered “new,” but it is new and fresh. Besides I May Destroy You, Lovecraft Country was my favorite new show from 2020. Once again, HBO is incredibly dumb for canceling not only a critical darling, but one that gained a cult following.
Will Win: The Crown
Should Win: Lovecraft Country
Khalil would love to win: Lovecraft Country
The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards airs on September 19th on CBS.