It was no surprise that Jason Sudeikis’ Ted Lasso was going to take home a few of the big trophies in the comedy categories of the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards, which were held on Sunday, September 19. Jason Sudeikis’ comedy claimed seven Emmys in total, including best comedy, lead actor (Sudeikis), supporting actress (Hannah Waddingham) and supporting actor (Brett Goldstein).
The drama category of television’s big awards wasn’t much contested either. The Crown reigned, winning a total of 11 Emmys, including Outstanding Drama, all four acting categories, directing and writing. And in the limited series, The Queen’s Gambit took a sizable number of awards — 11 in total — including Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series. But the Netflix chess show shared some trophies with the other favorite anthology series of the night: Mare of Easttown.
These highly popular shows weren’t the only ones to earn some statuettes from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Other fan-favorites like WandaVision and The Mandalorian accumulated a few trophies each — most of them in the technical categories.
Whether you watched the ceremony live or — most likely — you stuck to a series of acceptance speeches and standout moments on YouTube or Twitter, certain victories may help shine a light on a few underdog or lesser-known shows. And some TV series deserve your attention, even if, in the end, they remained mere nominees. Especially considering the Emmys had a historic number of nominations for people of color this year — and yet the Academy managed to give all major acting awards to white performers.
Here are a few of the shows you should be checking out.
Shows That Got Some Emmys Love
Even if HBO’s period supernatural horror and commentary on race Lovecraft Country has been canceled and won’t have a second season, its first season works perfectly as a satisfying limited series. Showrunner Misha Green’s artful and poignant adaptation of Matt Ruff’s novel of the same name won the always excellent Courtney B. Vance an Emmy in the Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series category. The show surprisingly didn’t mean a posthumous Emmy for Michael Kenneth Williams. He was nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. He had been nominated three times before that in acting categories, none of them for The Wire. It was Tobias Menzies (The Crown) who won the award instead of Williams this time.
If you too are finding this second season of Ted Lasso‘s shortbread recipe a bit too indulgently sweet, you should check out the very bingeable and mostly cynical Hacks on HBO Max. Actually, Ted Lasso would most probably make Jean Smart’s character in Hacks, the veteran standup comedian Deborah Vance, roll her eyes with disdain. Not surprisingly, and after years of standout performances in shows like Watchmen and Mare of Easttown, Smart put her name on a fourth Emmy, this time for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy in Hacks. The show took both the Writing and Directing for a Comedy Series Emmys as well. Both awards were expected to go to Ted Lasso.
Also, an addictive must-watch is Kaley Cuoco’s The Flight Attendant. Part international thriller, part screwball comedy, this HBO Max original not only stars the Big Bang Theory alumna Cuoco, but she’s also an executive producer of the show and developed it for the small screen. And even though The Flight Attendant only won one Emmy for its Original Main Title Theme — Rosie Perez was nominated and one of the favorite names in the Supporting Actress category but lost to Waddingham — something tells me we’ll keep hearing about The Flight Attendant at the Emmys in years to come.
Very much praised but not fit for a single-watching serving is Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You. Even though the London-based drama contains a lot of comedy, it tackles rape and sexual assault from a direct and unabashed perspective. Be advised though, while this show is necessary, it’s also uncomfortable and hard to watch. Its title does it justice: It may destroy you. Coel took home — very deservedly — the Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie Emmy. And while I May Destroy You won a second Emmy for Outstanding Music Supervision, its lack of more awards points to the Academy’s fixation on a very limited number of shows.
For definitely lighter fare, Netflix miniseries Halston won star Ewan McGregor an Emmy for his performance as the famed fashion designer who popularized caftans and the ultrasuede shirt dress. If you love fashion and/or executive producer Ryan Murphy’s shows, Halston makes for a good weekend binge.
If you haven’t given FX’s Pose a watch yet — MJ Rodriguez made history as the first trans woman to be nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, but Olivia Colman won in the category for her role in The Crown — this is the perfect chance to watch it. The first two seasons of the show are available on Netflix. The show won three Emmys this year for Contemporary Hairstyling, Makeup and Costumes.
And I need to remind you once again about The Underground Railroad on Prime Video; the Barry Jenkins adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel has made it to our list of best TV shows of 2021. But it sure is no guilty pleasure or bingeable fare. You’ll want to take your time with this tale about a Black woman in the Antebellum South who finds a way out of slavery. The Jenkins series didn’t win any trophies at the Emmys, but it was nominated for seven awards in some of the main categories.
A Few Other Unique Titles
Those are hardly all the 2021 Emmy winners or nominees who deserve a little bit of your attention. Hulu’s PEN15 is a comedy and critical darling about a couple of teenagers — played in the show by grown women and PEN15 co-creators Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine. Konkle and Erskine portray teenage versions of themselves. The show has four Emmy nominations and has aired two seasons.
We already recommended Inside when we told you about some of the best albums and songs of 2021 so far. But since the Netflix musical special has won three Emmys, we thought about reminding you again of Bo Burnham’s experience writing, recording and filming this special episode during the bleakest months of the pandemic.
Also musical, but a bit more uplifting than Inside, is David Byrne’s American Utopia on HBO. Like Hamilton, another winning TV film at the Emmys this year, American Utopia is a filmed version of the Broadway play of the same name, and it was directed by Spike Lee.
And since we know you’re probably a Dolly Parton fan — why wouldn’t you be? — let’s add to our list of suggestions Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square. It’s this year’s winner of the Outstanding Television Movie Emmy award, and it sure makes for a better Christmas episode than the one featured in the second season of Ted Lasso.
If you haven’t yet, read our article about what the Emmy nominations told us about a year of watching TV continuously.
List of Primetime Emmy Award Winners
Here’s the full list of Primetime Emmy Award winners from Sunday, September 19, 2021:
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso)
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso)
Supporting Actress in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or TV Movie: Julianne Nicholson (Mare of Easttown)
Supporting Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or TV Movie: Evan Peters (Mare of Easttown)
Writing in a Drama Series: Peter Morgan (The Crown)
Directing for a Drama Series: Jessica Hobbs (The Crown)
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Gillian Anderson (The Crown)
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Tobias Menzies (The Crown)
Writing Variety Series: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Variety Talk Series: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Variety Sketch Series: Saturday Night Live
Writing for a Comedy Series: Hacks
Directing for a Comedy Series: Lucia Aniello (Hacks)
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Jean Smart (Hacks)
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso)
Competition Program: RuPaul’s Drag Race
Directing for a Limited Series, Anthology Series or TV Movie: Scott Frank (The Queen’s Gambit)
Writing for a Limited Series, Anthology Series or TV Movie: Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You)
Lead Actress in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or TV Movie: Kate Winslet (Mare of Easttown)
Lead Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or TV Movie: Ewan McGregor (Halston)
Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Olivia Colman (The Crown)
Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Josh O’Connor (The Crown)
Variety Special Live: Steven Colbert’s Election Night 2020
Variety Special Pre-Recorded: Hamilton
Comedy Series: Ted Lasso
Drama Series: The Crown
Limited or Anthology Series: The Queen‘s Gambit
And these are a few of the winners of some Creative Arts Emmys:
Casting for a Comedy Series: Ted Lasso
Guest Actor in a Comedy Series: Dave Chapelle (Saturday Night Live)
Guest Actress in a Comedy Series: Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live)
Writing for a Variety Special: Bo Burnham (Inside)
Casting for a Drama Series: The Crown
Casting for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie: The Queen’s Gambit
Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Claire Foy (The Crown)
Guest Actor in a Drama Series: Courtney B. Vance (Lovecraft Country)
Television Movie: Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square
Special Visual Effects in a Season or a Movie: The Mandalorian
Original Main Title Theme Music: The Flight Attendant
Directing for a Variety Special: Bo Burnham (Inside)
Special Visual Effects in a Single Episode: Star Trek: Discovery, “Su’kal”
Stunt Coordination: The Mandalorian
Stunt Performance: The Mandalorian, “Chapter 16: The Rescue”
Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Special: Hamilton
Original Music and Lyrics: WandaVision. Song Title: “Agatha All Along”
Music Supervision: I May Destroy You
Music Composition for a Limited or Anthology Series, Movie or Special (Original Dramatic Score): The Queen’s Gambit
You can check the full list of winners and nominees for the 2021 – 73rd Emmy Awards here.