Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Biggest Snubs And Surprises From The 2021 Emmy Nominations

The Emmy Awards are the crowning achievement in television entertainment. If a show can win an Emmy — in whatever category — it's a sign that they've really "made it" in the entertainment world. Sometimes, it's easy to predict which shows, actors, directors, and writers will walk away with a small-screen golden statue of validation. But other times, especially with regard to the 2021 Emmy nominations ... things get a little more confusing, to say the least.

This year, most of the nominations that made the list are fairly intuitive. New and inventive shows like "A Black Lady Sketch Show" and "Lovecraft Country" received some well-deserved recognition, and powerhouses like "The Crown" and "The Mandalorian" either received fawning critical acclaim or passionate audience approval — or both — before sweeping up nominations like a Zamboni in an ice rink. 

But then, there are also the unexpected snubs and surprises that have most people either jumping for joy or crying foul. Let's take a closer look at some of the more unexpected decisions made for the 2021 Emmy Awards season.

The biggest snubs from the 2021 Emmy nominations

One of the biggest snubs this award season was the massively popular "Girls5eva" on Peacock from executive producer Tina Fey. This is only speculation, but we have to assume that people are just so sick of seeing Fey being wildly successful at everything she does that its 97% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes didn't sway the decision makers much. Ethan Hawke also got snubbed for his critically lauded role in "The Good Lord Bird," a historical fiction drama based on the abolitionist movement in the 1850s Territory of Kansas which has a nearly A+ approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Another snub that feels unfair was the exclusion of Samantha Bee and her show "Full Frontal” from the boys' club that is the 2021 Outstanding Variety Talk Series category. Then again, maybe the show could get a little more well-deserved recognition if fans didn't have to drive all the way to their grandmother's house to watch it on basic cable (or waste $20+ per month on Sling). Come on, TBS. Give the people some better streaming options.

Lastly, Nicole Kidman got snubbed over co-star Hugh Grant for "The Undoing" according to The Hollywood Reporter. On the one hand, most people weren't expecting that particular limited series to sweep up the statues in the first place. But the fact that two equally talented actors failed to receive equal recognition for their performances may have some crying foul about sexism in Hollywood.

The biggest surprises from the 2021 Emmy nominations

Quite possibly one of the biggest and most confusing surprises from the Emmy nominations this year is the nod to "Cobra Kai” for a Best Comedy series. Don't get us wrong — "Cobra Kai" is not a bad show by any means. But many are still scratching their heads over how a series about fighting, teenage drama, substance abuse, PTSD, and questionably ethical car salesmen is bringing out enough belly laughs for such a nomination.

Another big — but pleasant — surprise is "The Boys" getting nominated for Best Drama Series and Best Writing in a Drama Series (among other awards). In the relatively recent past, the idea that stuffy old curmudgeons in the backrooms of Emmys HQ would award a modern-day, adult-themed, comic-book-inspired narrative any sort of big league recognition would have been unheard of. Thankfully, the times are a-changin', and quality shows that fall outside of the PG-13 mainstream demographic are getting the recognition they deserve.

Lastly, The New York Times called Jurnee Smollet's nomination for Lead Actress in a Drama Series for "Lovecraft Country" a "surprise" — but is it, really? The show performed ridiculously well ratings-wise (according to Variety) and the sad news of it not being renewed still has fans reeling. And as far as Smollet's performance overall, well... anyone who didn't bawl like a big, emotional baby when Letty banished that malevolent spirit from her house in Episode 3 might want to get their empathy muscle checked. She may not end up winning the award due to her tough competition in the category, but her nomination is unquestionably deserved.

The elephant in the TV room: the Covid pandemic played a part in who got snubbed (and who got surprised)

According to numerous publications – Indie Wire included — the field would look very different if certain shows weren't excluded from this year's festivities due to Covid-19. Unfortunately, the pandemic caused complications and production delays which either prevented shows from completing their planned 2021 seasons, or forced them to debut outside of the Emmys' submission due date (also via Indie Wire). These include high-quality shows like "Ozark," "Stranger Things," and "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," which would have been highly unlikely to get snubbed had they submitted on time.

Oh well. There's always next year (hopefully). Nonetheless, this unusual series of events, and the precedent it sets, begs an intriguing question: how unpredictable will the 2022 awards field be now, after this one? Assuming everything Covid-related stays under control and Hollywood can get back to normal (fingers crossed), it also means that the competition will suddenly be fiercer than ever. Most of the underdogs that did surprisingly well in 2021 (due to other high-performers being on hiatus) will no doubt feel confident enough to re-submit next year. And that will undoubtedly lead to some huge snubs and surprises during the 2022 awards season.