Nominees for the 2021 Emmy Awards Announced – What Were the Biggest Surprises?

| July 22, 2021 6:34 am PDT

The Hollywood award season is already upon us again. Thanks to a truncated schedule, it feels like we just got done with all the major awards, yet the 2021 Emmys arrive again in September.

This year’s Emmy Awards will prop up some familiar (and deserving) names, but the recent release of the official 2021 Emmy nominations had some surprises.

From 2021 Emmys snubs to surprising nominees, there’s a lot to go over. With that, let’s take a look at the worst snubs and the biggest surprises from the 2021 Emmy nominations.

The Boys Gets Nominated for Best Drama Series

This is shocking for sure but, to be frank, it’s deserving.

Most fans and critics alike are often appalled at comic book or fantasy-type content being slid amongst the ranks of more emotionally rich dramas, but sometimes the eye test just isn’t good enough.

This wasn’t the only superhero-centric TV show to get a tip of the cap, either.

The Boys is gruesome, vulgar, and grotesque, and yes, it’s fodder for the comic book cannon. But it’s also hilarious, gut-wrenching, and shockingly deep.

There is a lot going on here, and when you unpack it all, you have a twist-and-turning story about love, redemption, and the undying fight for the greater good.

All bottled up in a sea of blood and guts, to be sure.

The Boys probably won’t win, but it’s arguably good enough to deliver yet another shocker. For now, it’s a big surprise it even got to rub elbows with the likes of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Crown, and in a good way.

William H. Macy Gets Nominated Yet Again

I’m not here to give William H. Macy a hard time. He’s been hilarious as the deadbeat drunk for 11 seasons on Shameless, but it’s impossible to avoid the reality that his act has grown tired.

Macy is an institution at this point, having received an Emmy nod five previous times for his work on Shameless. He’s never won yet, of course, so perhaps the Emmys are throwing him a bone.

The problem? He isn’t going to win, and that spot could have gone to someone else.

Macy is still getting it done, but Shameless dropped off horribly over the past few years, last topping even 80% on Rotten Tomatoes four seasons ago.

That has to at least partially be tied to Macy’s floundering character, while his off-screen image has also taken a bit of a hit.

I get why Macy got the nod, but with Jason Sudeikis an overwhelming favorite to take home Best Actor in a Comedy Series, it’s quite arguable someone should have taken Macy’s place – much like in 2020.

The Emmys Deny Ethan Hawke and The Good Lord Bird

This one hurts because Ethan Hawke keeps trying his hardest to do good, honest work, and nobody seems to care.

Hawke is still best remembered for his riveting part in the iconic Training Day, but he’s excelled in the years since. His latest brush with greatness comes as John Brown in The Good Lord Bird.

The Guardian handed in a scintillating review of the limited series, highlighting Hawke’s fantastic portrayal of Brown.

“Ethan Hawke is astonishing as Brown, putting in what may be a career-best performance.”

Scoring a decisive 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, this tale of a stark raving mad abolitionist got overlooked when it comes to the 2021 Emmys nominees, and Hawke was it’s driving force.

It’s quite arguable season one as a whole deserved a nod, but at least Hawke should have garnered a closer look. Seen by some as a realistic contender to win, it’s a full-blown gut punch that he wasn’t even nominated.

Pedro Pascal Gets Passed Over, Too

In the name of The Mandalorian getting proper respect in two consecutive years at the Emmys, why is its lead actor being left in the dust?

The Mandalorian has gotten this far on the heels of impeccable directing, stellar storytelling, and Star Wars fandom. It’s also been propped up by surprisingly rich characters, with Pascal taking his game up a notch in a now seemingly sidestepped second season.

Jon Favreau’s Star Wars vehicle has checked all the boxes (scoring 93% and 94% ratings in its first two seasons), and Pascal has been a big reason for its success.

That success has led to a tie for the lead with 24 nominations this year.

That’s awesome, and frankly, great to see.

But to get that much respect from the critics and voters, and not have the lead actor at least get a nomination seems like a bit of a miss.

Hamilton Gets a Little Too Much Love

I didn’t have the luxury of seeing Hamilton live on Broadway. I’m sure many can say the same. I did, however, get the chance to see Lin-Manuel Miranda’s baby on Disney+, and it was sensational.

Most wouldn’t assume that a taped version of a live play would qualify as must-see TV, but that was certainly the case with the emotionally packed and fast-lipped Hamilton.

Miranda’s spirited performance as Alexander Hamilton was enough to get some attention, but throw in scene stealers like Leslie Odom, Daveed Diggs, and Renee Elise Goldsberry, and you had yourself one powerful rap opera.

Again, Hamilton was great. But didn’t it already crush at the 2016 Tony Awards?

I get that this is then seen as a new product, and it’s no longer “just” a play or musical. Now it’s a cinematic production. Blah, blah, blah.

Yes, but it also already was honored plenty, and another production could have snagged some nominations in its place. That didn’t happen, and Hamilton crushed with a whopping 12 nominations.

I’m not mad that Hamilton is here. It was amazing. But it was amazing five years ago. It needn’t get this much love again.

Looking Ahead to the 2021 Emmy Awards

The 2021 Emmy nominations certainly sparked some conversation. There were loads of actors that got snubbed, and there were certainly some shows and limited series that got glossed over, too.

I think Hawke and Pascal were among the worst 2021 Emmys snubs, while I’m sure there were other misses by the Emmy voters.

There were some surprises, too, and they surely contributed to some of those snubs.

Hamilton arguably shouldn’t be part of the 2021 Emmys at all, but here we are. The Mandalorian and The Crown also soaked up a lot of the nominations (48 total), and it would have been nice to see things spaced out a bit better.

The inability to get creative was never more evident in the nominees for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, where four actors from Ted Lasso received admission.

That type of imbalance is grotesque in an industry that needs to be better at getting more voices heard.

Still, the 2021 Emmys promise to be a wild ride, as there is a slew of newcomers, and a lot of races won’t be decided until the red carpet rolls out in September.

Noah Davis
Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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