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Biggest Snubs and Surprises from the 2021 Emmy Nominations

The Mandalorian lands among this year's drama nominations, Mj Rodriguez makes history, The Underground Railroad cast is overlooked, and Emily in Paris surprises again as a comedy series nominee.

by and | July 13, 2021 | Comments

The nominees for the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards were filled with new faces — like Ted Lasso and its most-ever nominations for a first-year series — and old — The Crown‘s 24 nods make it the most nominated show of the year, alongside The Mandalorian. But there were plenty of actors and series missing from the list on Tuesday morning, and many who upset some category stalwarts to score coveted nomination slots.

There was plenty of outcry when Emily in Paris was nominated for the Golden Globes, but the mixed-reviewed Netflix series managed to sneak into the Comedy category at the Emmys, too. On the other hand, shows like Amazon Prime Video’s The Boys and Hulu’s Pen15 also managed to score their first series nominations, in Drama and Comedy respectively, leading many to rejoice.

Read on for our full list of snubs and surprises then let us know which nomination – or lack thereof – had you angrily texting your group chats on Tuesday morning.


Related: 
2021 Emmy Nominations: Full list of Nominees for 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards
Rotten Tomatoes Predicts the 2021 Emmy Nominees


SURPRISE: I MAY DESTROY YOU GETS SO MUCH LOVE

I May Destroy You star Michaela Coel

(Photo by Laura Radford/HBO)

Listen, TV critics might have rioted in the streets if Michaela Coel’s singular work of art I May Destroy You didn’t land any nominations, but this many? More than a year after it premiered? A very, very pleasant surprise considering sometimes the Television Academy members seem to have the memory of a goldfish. In addition to the show itself, Coel was nominated for her performance, writing and directing, Paapa Essiedu was nominated for his performance, and Sam Miller was also nominated for directing.


SNUB: GIRLS5EVA GETS LARGELY IGNORED

Peacock

(Photo by Peacock)

Even a near-perfect Certified Fresh score couldn’t get the Tina Fey–produced sitcom Girls5Eva, about a ’90s girl group working toward a comeback, the Emmys love it deserved. Renee Elise Goldsberry’s iconic performance as a pop diva? Snubbed (though she did get a nod for her performance in the filmed Hamilton musical). Sara Bareilles’ many musical compositions? Snubbed. The only nod the show received was for creator Meredith Scardino’s writing, a very, very small comfort.


SURPRISE: THE BOYS LANDS A DRAMA SERIES NOD

The Boys, season 2 supes walk

(Photo by James Minchin/Amazon Prime Video)

Sure, the second season of Amazon’s sardonic superhero series The Boys is Certified Fresh at 97%, but did anyone expect the sometimes-stodgy Television Academy to recognize that fact? The Emmy voters occasionally get stuck in their old patterns, and it’s hard for new shows to break through, especially when there really is so much great television out there. But The Boys did it — just in time for season 3.


SURPRISE: MJ RODRIGUEZ SCORES HISTORICAL FIRST NOMINATION

POSE -- "Series Finale" -- Season 3, Episode 7 (Airs June 6) Pictured: Mj Rodriguez as Blanca, Billy Porter as Pray Tell. CR: Eric Liebowitz/FX

(Photo by Eric Liebowitz/FX)

Pose has been recognized many times over with series nods and even a win for star Billy Porter, but the other lead of the series, Mj Rodriguez hasn’t even gotten a nomination before — until now. Just as the character of Blanca grew into a confident, wise mentor for her ballroom children, Rodriguez delivered a poised, hopeful, and occasionally heartbreaking performance in the series’ final season. She’s always been worthy of Emmy love, but this time the Academy listened. With this nomination, Rodriguez is the first-ever out trans performer nominated in a major acting category.


SNUB: IT’S A SIN SHUT OUT

Omari Douglas as Roscoe Babatunde, Lydia West as Jill Baxter, David Carlyle as Gregory Finch, Calum Scott Howells as Colin Morris-Jones, and Nathaniel Curtis as Ash Mukherjee in It's a Sin (Ben Blackall/HBO Max)

(Photo by Ben Blackall/HBO Max)

Certified Fresh at 98%, HBO Max drama It’s a Sin, about a group of friends enduring the AIDS crisis in London in the ’80s, is “an incredible feat of small-screen magic,” according to critics. (There’s also the “exquisite cast, empathetic writing, and a distinct visual style,” per our Critics Consensus.) But apparently that wasn’t enough for the TV Academy to take notice? Sometimes the Emmy voters get it very, very wrong — like in this case.


SURPRISE: KENAN THOMPSON NOMINATED TWICE OVER

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, Kenan Thompson

(Photo by NBC/Mary Ellen Matthews)

The longest-tenured Saturday Night Live cast member has just one Emmy to his name — for the parody song “Come Back Barack” in 2018 — and, until this year, had just three more nominations. He scored his third Supporting Actor nomination for SNL in 2021, but also landed his first-ever Lead Actor nomination for sitcom Kenan, which he filmed while starring on this season of SNL, flying back and forth from Los Angeles to New York throughout the season. A long-overdue acknowledgement for someone who’s been bringing laughs for 30 years.


SURPRISE: SHAMELESS NOMINATION LEAVES OTHER COMEDY ACTORS OUT IN THE COLD

(Photo by Showtime)

The final season of Shameless went out with a whimper of a Tomatometer score at 67%, but that was nothing compared to the shameful 20% score on its penultimate season. Those figures combined with William H. Macy’s involvement in the college admissions scandal story that broke in 2019 would understandably cast a shadow over his possible nomination. But here he is, honored (forgiven? pitied?) by his peers. Or is it that the 15-time nominee, two-time Emmy winner’s performance shone through a just-OK season? In truth, we had expected to see Alan Tudyk (Resident Alien, Certified Fresh at 94%), Rob McElhenney (Mythic Quest, Certified Fresh at 100%), or Billy Magnussen (Made for Love, Certified Fresh at 94%) take a nomination, so this is a surprise.


SNUBS: LATE NIGHT MISSES VARIETY TALK SERIES NOMINATION

Late Night with Seth Meyers has been nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series the past four years in a row and got a nod this year for Outstanding Short Form Comedy, Drama or Variety Series. The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards were expected to be Late Night’s year for that elusive Outstanding Variety Talk Series nomination, but went instead to Conan, receiving its first nomination in the category for its final season; four-time nominee in this category The Daily Show With Trevor Noah; seven-time nominated Jimmy Kimmel Live!; five-time nominated The Late Show With Stephen Colbert; and, of course, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, which has won in the category for the past six years.


SURPRISE: AIDY BRYANT FINALLY GETS RECOGNIZED FOR SHRILL

(Photo by Hulu)

Aidy Bryant has been turning in reliable, excellent work on Saturday Night Live for years now, so that particular nod is not surprising. What is a bit of a shock is her recognition for the bittersweet final season of Shrill, the show she created and starred in but which Emmy voters had ignored in its two previous seasons.


SNUB: PHOEBE DYNEVOR SHUT OUT FOR BRIDGERTON

(Photo by Liam Daniel/Netflix)

Bridgerton’s Duke might’ve gotten his due with a nomination for Regé-Jean Page, but his Duchess (Phoebe Dynevor), whose wide-eyed naiveté was the perfect foil for their Bridgerton antics, missed out. Crackling chemistry like that between the world-weary Simon Bassett and his innocent new bride isn’t just one-sided, you know.


SURPRISE: EMILY IN PARIS SCORES A COVETED COMEDY SLOT

CAROLE BETHUEL/NETFLIX

(Photo by CAROLE BETHUEL/NETFLIX)

The Golden Globes nominating candy-colored Netflix comedy Emily in Paris after some lavish trips for journalists to the City of Lights? Not surprising. The Television Academy recognizing the series in the Comedy category alongside much, much better-reviewed series like the Certified Fresh seasons of Hacks, Pen15, Ted Lasso, The Flight Attendant, and Cobra Kai that also got nods? Definitely surprising.


SURPRISE: STAR WARS SERIES CHARMS TELEVISION ACADEMY AGAIN WITH ITS SECOND SEASON

Grogu in The Mandalorian season two

(Photo by © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.)

Was it a surprise? That’s what we’ve asked ourselves since Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian was announced as a nominee in the Outstanding Drama Series category or the second year in a row. The series has 24 nominations this year to last year’s 15 (with seven wins). We bet on it in our Emmy predictions – maybe we’re just surprised we were right about a series led by a man encased in metal and an adorable muppet.


SNUBS: ONE OF THE NOMINATIONS’ MOST BIRD-BRAINED OMISSIONS

Ethan Hawke as John Brown in THE GOOD LORD BIRD

(Photo by William Gray/Showtime)

No stranger to the awards circuit, Ethan Hawke has been nominated four times for an Academy Award: two for supporting actor in films Boyhood and Training Day and another two for adapted screenplay for Before Sunset and Before Midnight. He also won a Daytime Emmy that he shared with a boatload of people for interactive feature “Invasion!” in 2017. Limited series The Good Lord Bird, Certified Fresh at 97% on the Tomatometer, contains one of Hawke’s most eccentric and finest performances to date. Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie nominees Ewan McGregor (Halston), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton), Hugh Grant (The Undoing), and Paul Bettany (WandaVision) surely are deserving, but Hawke’s quirky transformation was positively sublime.


SURPRISE: COBRA KAI TURNS UP TO COMPETE IN THE OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES CATEGORY

COBRA KAI star WILLIAM ZABKA

(Photo by Netflix)

The Mandalorian, The Boys, and the Karate Kid sequel series Cobra Kai – the Emmy nominations have never been more fanboy friendly! This pandemic year has provided some great escapism and nostalgia-fueled works, but with heavy competition in the category – and very like its fellow nominee Emily in Paris –this is a title we didn’t expect to see. We had guessed that four other titles would find their way on the list – Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, Girls5Eva, Made for Love, and Mythic Quest – and we were very wrong.


SNUBS: THUSO MBEDU IS OVERLOOKED IN A RED-HOT CATEGORY

Thuso Mbedu as Cora Randall in The Underground Railroad (Kyle Kaplan/Amazon Studios)

(Photo by Kyle Kaplan/Amazon Studios)

With seven nominations, including Outstanding Limited Or Anthology Series, The Underground Railroad was a major point of pride for Amazon Studios on the day the nominations were announced. But among all of the awards for directing, music, sound, casting, and cinematography, there was not a single acting nod. Baffling. Star Thuso Mbedu faced powerful competition for a spot among the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie nominees with Cythia Erivo (Genius: Aretha), Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You), Kate Winslet (Mare of Easttown), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit), and Elizabeth Olsen (WandaVision) showing up. But still.


Thumbnail Image Credit: FX, Disney+/Lucasfilm, Netflix

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