5 Takeaways From The 2021 Emmy Nominations Announcement From a banner year for a new generation of streaming platforms to historic inclusion and unexpected exclusions, NPR's Eric Deggans unpacks the 2021 Emmy nominations.

5 Takeaways From The 2021 Emmy Nominations

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1015674688/1015754915" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The last year has seen the arrival of several new streaming platforms, and today's Emmy nominations prove that we are now living in the streaming age of prestige TV. HBO Max, Disney Plus, Hulu and Netflix collectively dominated the Emmy nominations for drama, comedy and limited series. Joining us now to talk through the nominations, NPR TV critic Eric Deggans.

Welcome back.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Hi.

CORNISH: So who led this year's nominations?

DEGGANS: Well, you know, you're right that streaming is increasingly setting the tone for high-quality TV shows. HBO and HBO Max had the most total nominations with 130, beating Netflix by one nomination. But HBO, which is a premium cable channel, wouldn't have had that top title if they hadn't folded in the nominations from their streaming service, HBO Max. And Disney Plus was third with 71 nominations. And it kind of played out that way with series, too. You look at Netflix's "The Crown" and Disney Plus' "The Mandalorian." They got the most nominations of any series with 24 each. And then "Wandavision" on Disney Plus got 23, and Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale" got 21.

I got to just point out personally I was so glad to see Jean Smart, who is a TV legend, get nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy for "Hacks" on HBO Max, which is a streaming service. And she was also nominated for best supporting actress in a limited series for "Mare Of Easttown," which is on HBO - so lots of good picks this year.

CORNISH: You've been writing on npr.org about this time during the voting process, and I notice you're focused on the limited series category. What ended up being nominated there, and why do you think that's an area to watch?

DEGGANS: Well, there was just so much competition. I mean, we're at a time where projects that might normally have been sort of mid-level movies are instead becoming these limited series with big stars like Kate Winslet's "Mare Of Easttown" on HBO, which did get nominated. But a lot of great projects couldn't get nominated because of that competition in limited series. So director Steve McQueen's wonderful "Small Axe" on Amazon Prime Video didn't get nominated. Nicole Kidman's "The Undoing" didn't get nominated, and Kidman herself also wasn't nominated as best actress in a limited series for "The Undoing." So that was a pretty big snub.

I was glad to see that HBO's searing drama about this woman who was sexually assaulted called "I May Destroy You" was nominated in that category, along with the creator and star Michaela Coel. She was criminally overlooked earlier this year by the Golden Globes, so at least Emmy was able to rectify that.

CORNISH: I want to dig into Disney a little bit more because between the "Star Wars" shows and "Wandavision" and, you know, the extensions of the Marvel Universe, they got a lot of Emmy noms. What does that signal to you?

DEGGANS: Geek power. OK, I'm a comics nerd. I'm going to admit it. And - but I was glad to see a change in this dynamic where, you know, superhero shows or horror shows get overlooked. Marvel got its first major Emmy nominations with "Wandavision." HBO's horror series "Lovecraft Country" and Amazon's superhero satire "The Boys" got major nominations. And for comic book fans like me, it's just a little bit of validation to see that the genres that we love are getting a little more respect.

CORNISH: Any surprise picks?

DEGGANS: Well, I was glad to see that "Pose" star Mj Rodriguez made history as the first openly transgender performer who was nominated in a major acting category, nominated for best lead actress in a drama. And we had a lot of great high-quality shows featuring non-white casts do well like "Lovecraft Country" and "Hamilton" on Disney Plus and "The Underground Railroad." I just hope we'll see more non-white nominees who are not Black. We need more Latinos and more Asians and more non-white people who are not Black to be nominated. But they did a good job with diversity as well this year.

CORNISH: That's NPR TV critic Eric Deggans.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.