Following a year in which the pandemic forced many Americans to increasingly turn to on-demand streaming video for entertainment, the Television Academy rewarded the streaming services in a big way in the nominations for the 73rd Emmy Awards.
Three streaming series led the way, with Netflix’s “The Crown” and the Disney+ Star Wars action drama “The Mandalorian” each notching 24 nominations. The Disney+ Marvel series “WandaVision” had 23 nominations. It was the first time that the top three nominated shows were all from streaming platforms.
HBO, aided by its year-old streaming service, HBO Max, led all networks with 130 nominations. Netflix was right behind with 129 nominations. Next was Disney+, which picked up 71 nominations in just its second year of existence. NBC was in a distant fourth place with 46 nominations.
The contenders in the best drama category are mostly from the streamers. They include the fourth season of “The Crown”; the second season of the “The Mandalorian”; a former best drama winner, Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”; the freshman season of Netflix’s “Bridgerton”; Amazon’s “The Boys”; FX’s “Pose”; HBO’s recently canceled series “Lovecraft Country”; and NBC’s “This Is Us.”
In the comedy category, the Apple TV+ feel-good sports series “Ted Lasso,” starring Jason Sudeikis, scored a nomination, and is the favorite to win the category. It was joined by a pair of HBO Max original series: “The Flight Attendant” and “Hacks.” Kaley Cuoco of “The Flight Attendant” and Jean Smart of “Hacks” were each nominated for best actress in a comedy series. Other nominees in the comedy category included Hulu’s “PEN15” and three Netflix series: “Cobra Kai,” “Emily in Paris” and “The Kominsky Method.”
Only one nominee for best comedy — ABC’s “black-ish” — was from a cable or broadcast network, an all-time low.
Though the streaming services have collected plenty of nominations over the last nine years, big wins have been elusive.
The number of times a streamer has won best drama? That would be one, and it was accomplished four years ago when “The Handmaid’s Tale” took the crown. Number of best comedy winners? Just two. And for best limited series, which has arguably turned into the Emmys’ most exciting category? Zero.
And Netflix — despite investing billions in content over the last few years, and spending plenty of cash on Emmy campaigning — has never won the award in drama, comedy or best limited series, a dry spell that could come to an end this year.
The ceremony will be on Sept. 19 on CBS, and also available on the Paramount+ streaming service.
“The Crown” is widely regarded in the entertainment industry as the gold standard in television thanks to its lush production values and great cast.
But it is 0 for 3 in the best drama race, and most of its Emmy wins have been in smaller categories like production design and costumes.
“The Crown” is the heavy favorite this year to finally win best drama for the show’s fourth season, and its cast overwhelmed the acting categories. Seven performers — Josh O’Connor (lead actor in a drama) as Prince Charles, Emma Corrin (lead actress in a drama) as Princess Diana, Olivia Colman (lead actress in a drama) as Queen Elizabeth II, Gillian Anderson (supporting actress in a drama) as Margaret Thatcher, Helena Bonham Carter (supporting actress in a drama) as Princess Margaret, Emerald Fennell (supporting actress in a drama) as Camilla Parker Bowles and Tobias Menzies (supporting actor in a drama) as Prince Philip — landed nominations. This will be their last chance to win Emmys for their roles; the next season of “The Crown” will feature a new cast.
Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit” sparked a spike in chess set sales, and already has claimed top limited series honors at the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Television Awards. Now it’s been nominated for an Emmy.
But it’s possible its hot streak could come to an end. HBO’s gritty crime drama “Mare of Easttown” also earned a nomination in the limited series category, as did another HBO series, “I May Destroy You.” Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” was nominated, and so was “WandaVision.” The HBO whodunit “The Undoing,” starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, was left off the list.
Best actress in a limited series may be the Emmys’ most-watched race. Kate Winslet (“Mare of Easttown”), Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Queen’s Gambit”), Michaela Coel (“I May Destroy You”), Cynthia Erivo (“Genius: Aretha”) and Elizabeth Olsen (“WandaVision”) all landed nominations in what many award prognosticators believe will be the most competitive category at the Emmys. Ms. Kidman was shut out for “The Undoing,” though Mr. Grant landed a nomination in the best actor race.
Jean Smart landed a second acting nomination in the best supporting actress in a limited series category, for her role as Winslet’s mother in “Mare of Easttown.” Kenan Thompson and Aidy Bryant were also double acting nominees: Thompson earned nods for NBC’s “Kenan” and “Saturday Night Live”; Bryant was honored for Hulu’s “Shrill” and “Saturday Night Live.”
And Mj Rodriguez was nominated for best actress in a drama for the final season of “Pose,” the first time a transgender person has landed a nomination in a lead acting category.
The streamers benefited from an entertainment slate that was altered by the pandemic. Hotly anticipated cable series that were supposed to have debuted in the last year were instead pushed off. That includes the next season of last year’s best drama winner, HBO’s “Succession” as well as the boundary-pushing FX comedy “Atlanta,” and the network’s “American Crime Story,” the two-time best limited series winner, which is going to focus on the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky affair.
For the first time in at least a decade, the number of television series actually went down in 2020, a trend that has continued through the first half of this year. Submissions for the drama and comedy categories declined by 30 percent this year, said a spokesman for the Television Academy.
Cedric the Entertainer, the star of the CBS comedy “The Neighborhood,” will be this year’s host.
Though the show will return to the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, CBS said that the show will have a “limited audience” of nominees and their guests.
CBS is hoping the Emmys will reverse a troubling trend for awards shows, which have seen record low ratings over the last year. And though last year’s mostly virtual Emmys ceremony was widely praised, the ratings result was the same: Only 6.1 million people watched, a low.
Tuesday’s nomination announcement was virtual, and hosted by a pair of Emmy winning actors: Ron Cephas Jones and his daughter, Jasmine Cephas Jones.