Ah, the halcyon days of only a month ago, where our Emmy Predictions felt so firm and near complete. As the US looks to a return to semi-normalcy and this pandemic-affected television season draws to a close, it seemed so recently that our Emmy nomination ballots were almost set. But with a spate of new releases prior to the May 30 nomination-period close, several key races have been shaken up.
New and returning shows, such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Netflix’s Halston, The Underground Railroad, Hacks, and a new volume of Master of None are throwing some last minute-intrigue into races that previously felt more or less fixed.
We’ve talked previously about how a rejuvenated fourth season of The Handmaid’s Tale has the ability to upend up the drama race. Six weeks ago, a sweep of the Drama Series, Lead Actor, and Lead Actress categories felt certain for the fourth season of The Crown. But Elisabeth Moss’s powerful showcase in the third episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, and the show breaking new ground after its premise had grown stale in previous installments throws some uncertainty into the Drama categories.
Barry Jenkins’ The Underground Railroad arrived on May 14 to acclaim, breaking open the Limited Series categories. It shouldn’t have been unexpected given its pedigree. Jenkins directed Best Picture winner Moonlight and won an Oscar for the screenplay; The Underground Railroad is based on the book of the same name which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
But given its rapturous reception, The Underground Railroad becomes a major threat in the Limited Series and Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, complicating an already intriguing race between The Queen’s Gambit and I May Destroy You. It could also knock out a few other series with strong support: Wandavision, The Good Lord Bird, or the anthology film series Small Axe.
Halston is the latest miniseries from Ryan Murphy’s prolific Netflix pact, and like his previous work for the streamer, it has received mixed reviews. But Ewan McGreggor will probably find his way into the Actor in a Limited Series or Movie category, which looks to be packed with big names this year.
On the Comedy side, the Emmys previously felt thin, but last-minute arrivals Hacks and Master of None Presents Moments in Love add some depth to the lists. While both seem unlikely to derail front-runner Ted Lasso, Hacks star Jean Smart is an absolute Emmy darling with 9 nominations and three wins. She hasn’t taken home an Emmy since 2008 and after several well-received roles in recent years, she could tip the category which had been leaning toward Kaley Cuoco for The Flight Attendant.
A new season in the Master of None franchise comes as a bit of a surprise, as does its shift of focus toward Lena Waithe. Waithe previously took home a writing Emmy for the second season of the show, which landed series nominations for its first two seasons. The comedy categories are top-heavy this year, with Ted Lasso overwhelmingly favored in the series and lead actor category, but lots of uncertainty in the remaining categories.
With just two weeks left in the nomination period for the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards, the race is starting to fix, with these new shows adding last-minute intrigue. There’s still a few upcoming drops that could alter the dynamics a bit: a new season of The Kominsky Method and Uzo Aduba’s leading role in the fourth season of In Treatment. By June 1, our nominating field will be set and we’ll have a much firmer sense of who will receive looks when Emmy Nominations are announced on July 13.