Emmy Nominations 2021: The Biggest Snubs and Surprises

Nicole Kidman looking longingly into the distance with trees in the background
Photo by: Niko Tavernise/HBO

For the most part, the 2021 Emmy Nominations kept things pretty close to expectations this year. The Television Academy welcomed new favorites like WandaVision, Bridgerton, Hacks, and The Flight Attendant while continuing to lavish praise on established players like The Handmaid’s Tale, The Crown, and, of course, the beloved Netflix comedy The Kominsky Method. But like every year, the Academy always makes a few choices that both rankle fans and leave even the keenest awards prognosticators scratching their heads. Here, this year’s biggest snubs and surprises.

Surprise: MJ Rodriguez for Pose

Mother has arrived! The Emmys have given Pose nominations before, but have frustratingly snubbed its actresses in previous years (a situation all the more notable for the fact that it was the series’s trans actresses who actually gave the show its heart and soul). For the series’ final season, they finally corrected themselves by giving MJ Rodriguez a Best Actress nomination.

Snub: Nicole Kidman for The Undoing

Naur, it can’t be! Despite The Undoing being HBO’s most-watched show in 2020 and Kidman receiving a score of previous nominations for her work as a woman with a great coat collection but a shady husband, she was snubbed here.

Surprise: The Boys, Cobra Kai, and “Nerd” Entertainment Breaking Through

Perhaps it’s not surprising or unprecedented, but mark this as the year the Emmys finally opened the floodgates fully to what we might call “nerdier” genres instead of just cherry-picking one or two. Amazon’s comic book adaptation The Boys joins The Mandalorian in Best Drama Series, while Netflix’s Cobra Kai, a continuation of the Karate Kid franchise, scored a somewhat surprise nomination for Best Comedy. Of course, Marvel’s WandaVision cleaned up in the limited series category as well. Reddit must be shaking in celebration right now. Who’s ready for the world’s first Dogecoin-based Emmys bracket?

Snub: Rosario Dawson for The Mandalorian

So Emmy voters are full nerds now, but are they just fake nerds? Apparently, they couldn’t appreciate the work Rosario Dawson did bringing Ahsoka Tano, the extended Star Wars canon’s most beloved character, to life for her live-action debut on The Mandalorian in the Guest Actress category. Awards prognosticators actually considered this a lock, and Mando boys Timothy Olyphant and Carl Weathers were recognized as Guest Actors on the male side of things. The old joke goes that wearing prosthetics usually ups an actress’s awards chances—but apparently that doesn’t hold true when the prosthetics in question are Togruta montrals.

Surprise: Emily in Paris

Everyone thought Emily in Paris being nominated at the Golden Globes was sort of shady, but the Emmys decided that they actually found the show quite pleasant and awarded it a Best Comedy nomination. Apparently, it just has that je ne sais quoi awards shows love.

Snub: Girls5Eva and Renée Elise Goldsberry

The Emmys absolutely love a good Tina Fey-produced comedy, but played a game of “I don’t know her” with Peacock’s girl group comedy Girls5Eva. There was a fair amount of buzz, especially, for Tony Winner Renée Elise Goldsberry’s turn as the group’s biggest diva, but Emmy voters apparently don’t have Peacock subscriptions yet (actually relatable). Goldsberry did, however, get nominated elsewhere for her work in Disney+’s presentation of Hamilton, which is actually the same role for which she won that Tony.

Snub: Ethan Hawke for The Good Lord Bird

Gen X’s favorite leading man continues to also be its most snubbed. Despite rave reviews for his work in the miniseries The Good Lord Bird, Hawke’s Emmy's wings were clipped.

Surprise: Yeah, More Nominations For Hamilton...

Doesn’t Hamilton have enough awards? Yet, Disney+’s “movie” version of the Broadway splash gave the Emmys their chance to continue to dump more gold on the play. Somewhat unpredictably, it dominated several of the acting categories with noms for Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo, Daveed Diggs, Jonathan Groff, and Anthony Ramos.

Snubs: John Boyega, Jeff Daniels, Marielle Heller, Letitia Wright, Weruche Opia, Bill Camp, and Donald Sutherland

And here are the actors, from The Queen’s Gambit, Small Axe, I May Destroy You, The Comey Rule, and The Undoing, many expected to score nominations in place of (or at least next to) those Hamilton alums.