Observations From The 2021 Emmy Awards Nominations

Lovecraft Country on HBO
(Image credit: HBO)

The main headline coming out of the Television Academy’s Emmys nomination announcement Tuesday is the dominance of the streaming services. With shows from streaming services representing eight of the top 10 most nominated shows, it’s clear that the online platform resonated with viewers, critics and Emmy voters.

With that said, there were a few highlights that traditional television distributors can hang their hats on heading into the Sept. 19 Emmy Awards show telecast. Here are several takeaways for cable and broadcast networks from Tuesday’s 73rd Emmys nominations announcement.

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• Along with 18 nominations, HBO’s recently cancelled Lovecraft Country became the first series ever to have Black actors nominated in both the drama best actor (Jonathan Rogers) and best actress (Jurnee Smollet) categories. The horror-themed show also has the distinction of having Black actors nominated in six of the seven drama acting categories. Overall, actors of color drew four of the six nominations in the best actor in a drama series category and half of the nominations for the best actress in a drama series award. 

Read Also: 'Lovecraft Country' Creator Outlines New Season Plot Despite Series Cancellation

NBC’s Saturday Night Live continues to rack up Emmy nominations. The late-night series drew 21 nominations — one off its record 22 nods for a variety show garnered in 2017— and now has a record 306th Emmy nominations overall. It was one of the few bright spots for the broadcast networks, which found itself either shut out or with only one nomination in the outstanding drama, comedy and limited series categories. NBC led all broadcast networks with 46 nominations.

• HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show is the only show that stands in the way of Saturday Night Live winning its fifth straight Emmy in the Outstanding Variety Sketch Series category as only two shows qualified for the award.  

FX was the most nominated basic cable network with 16, nine of which were generated by Pose, including a lead actress in a drama nomination for MJ Rodriguez — the first ever in the category for a lead trans person. VH1 (11) and National Geographic (10) also generated double-digit nominations. Overall 16 cable networks garnered Emmy nominations, matching the number of online services with Emmy nods. 

• HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver will look to make it six Emmy wins in a row in the Outstanding Talk Series category, while VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race will go for four straight wins in the Outstanding Competition Program category.  

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.