Emmy Awards 2021: Ultimate Viewers' Guide

Cedric the Entertainer, star and executive producer of the CBS hit comedy The Neighborhood, marks his first time as master of ceremonies for the 73rd Emmy Awards.

Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS 2021.

Who'll take home the gold when CBS airs the TV kudos fest on Sept. 19?

By Nate Millado

Hazmat-suited messengers had to deliver last year's Emmys to winners at home—or at small, socially distant soirees—amid COVID-19 lockdown. Rejoice: This year, the stars (and a live audience) are coming back for the 2021 Emmy Awards! Get ready for TV's biggest night with our ultimate cheat sheet to the three-hour telecast.

The 73rd Emmy Awards airs Sunday, Sept. 19, (8-11 p.m. ET/5-8 p.m. PT live) on CBS and Paramount+.

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Who's hosting television's biggest night?

Cedric the Entertainer holding up an Emmy Award

Cedric the Entertainer, of the CBS comedy The Neighborhood, will be the master of ceremonies for the Emmy Awards this year.

Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS 2021.

Meet your host with the most—Cedric the Entertainer!

"Since I was a little boy huddled up next to my grandmother, television has always been my reliable friend, so it is an enormous honor for me to host this year's Emmy Awards," said the star and executive producer of CBS' hit sitcom The Neighborhood.

"Throughout the roller-coaster of a year that we have all lived through, television has helped us stay connected as a society like never before. It not only entertained us, but as it always has, it helped to open our eyes, educate us, and hopefully brought about a better understanding of who we are as a people. I can't wait to take the stage to celebrate all of the great shows and performances that made us laugh, cry, dance, and sing over the past year." Well said, Ced!

The Neighborhood airs on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS and streams on Paramount+.

Who's nominated?

Nick Mohammed next to Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt in a scene from Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso's Nick Mohammed, Jason Sudeikis, and Brendan Hunt are all vying for Emmys.

Photo: AppleTV+.

Apple TV+'s feel-good, fish-out-of-water comedy Ted Lasso hauled in a whopping 20 Emmy nominations, the most ever for a freshman series. And just about everyone in the roster scored a nod, including Jason Sudeikis (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series) as the titular charming and uber-optimisic soccer coach. But the most-nominated series are Netflix's The Crown and Disney Plus' The Mandalorian—tied at 24.

Vying for the top prizes are:

Outstanding Drama: The Boys (Amazon Prime Video), Bridgerton (Netflix), The Crown (Netflix), The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu), Lovecraft Country (HBO), The Mandalorian (Disney Plus), Pose (FX), and This Is Us (NBC)

Outstanding Comedy: Black-ish (ABC), Cobra Kai (Netflix), Emily in Paris (Netflix), Hacks (HBO Max), The Flight Attendant (HBO Max), The Kominsky Method (Netflix), Pen15 (Hulu), and Ted Lasso (Apple TV Plus)

In terms of Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series, all due respect to I May Destroy You and The Underground Railroad, but it's a three-horse race between Mare of Easttown (HBO), The Queen's Gambit (Netflix), and WandaVision (Disney Plus).

Who are the favorites? Any upset alerts?

Courtney B Vance with Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett in the woods in a scene from Lovecraft Country

The stars of Lovecraft Country: Courtney B. Vance, Jonathan Majors, and Jurnee Smollett.

Photo: Eli Joshua Ade/HBO.

The Crown could reign supreme on Emmy night, with a legitimate shot at sweeping the top drama categories (Outstanding Drama, Josh O'Connor for Lead Actor, and either Emma Corrin or Olivia Colman for Lead Actress). Ted Lasso may prove just as scrappy as AFC Richmond and take home Outstanding Comedy (Sudeikis is a shoo-in for Lead Actor). Living legend Jean Smart (Hacks) is the favorite for Lead Actress in a Comedy—and could win a second statuette for her supporting turn in Mare of Easttown.

But watch out for: Kaley Cuoco, who soars in The Flight Attendant; previous Emmy winners Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us), Billy Porter (Pose), and Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid's Tale); and supernatural drama Lovecraft Country, which HBO unceremoniously canceled after one season but which still managed to earn an impressive 18 nominations, including Lead Actress (Jurnee Smollett) and Lead Actor (Jonathan Majors).

What's the most competitive category?

Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen in WandaVision

Emmy nominees Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen of WandaVision.

Photo: Disney Plus

Arguably the most exciting category to watch is Lead Actress in a Limited Series. Any one of these talented women could win the winged statue:

Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You)
Cynthia Erivo (Genius: Aretha)
Elizabeth Olsen (WandaVision)
Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen's Gambit)
Kate Winslet (Mare of Easttown)

Who's on the brink of history?

\u200bMj Rodriguez posing

Mj Rodriguez is the first trans performer nominated for Lead Actress in a Drama.

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

As ballroom announcer PrayTell (Billy Porter) would say, "The category is: Emmy history realness!" When Mj Rodriguez was nominated for Lead Actress in a Drama—playing house mother Blanca in the groundbreaking FX series Pose—she made herstory as the first transgender performer to compete in a major category.

Other potential record breakers:

  • Carl Clemons-Hopkins (Hacks) could be the first openly non-binary actor to pick up an acting Emmy.
  • RuPaul Charles (RuPaul's Drag Race) would be the most awarded Black artist in Emmy history if he wins all three trophies he's up for.
  • Bowen Yang, the first featured SNL player ever to be nominated, could also be the first Emmy winner of Asian descent in the Supporting Comedy Actor category.

Who'll say "hello" to a "farewell" Emmy?

Allison Janney in a white dress on the red carpet

Allison Janney of Mom.

Photo: Trae Patton/CBS

Can Allison Janney mount the mother of all comebacks by taking home her third Emmy for playing Bonnie Plunkett of Mom one last time? (The TV Academy clearly loves her: She's won 7 Emmys from 15 nominations!) Shameless patriarch William H. Macy is also up for Outstanding Comedy Actor for his final season. He'll go up against Michael Douglas, nominated for The Kominsky Method, which just wrapped its run.

Fun facts about this year's nominees

Bo Burnham is the most nominated performer this year, earning an incredible SIX nods for writing, directing, editing, composing, and performing in his pandemic-produced musical comedy special, Inside: Bo Burnham.

Courteney Cox is the only Friend never to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy ("I KNOW!"), but she can take home her first for co-producing the Friends: The Reunion special for HBO Max.

Don Cheadle is nominated for Guest Actor in a Drama—for a 95-second scene in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Over at Guest Actress in a Drama, Claire Foy got a nod for a blink-and-you-missed it cameo in The Crown, reprising her Emmy-winning role as Queen Elizabeth in flashback.

The Hamil-Craze continues! The filmed version of musical phenomenon Hamilton earned a dozen nominations, and OG Broadway cast members Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff, Anthony Ramos, Phillipa Soo, and Daveed Diggs are not throwing away their (first-time) shot!

Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A CBS PrimeTime Special—which gifted us jaw-dropping reveals and countless GIFs ("Were you silent ... or silenced?")—is up for Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series or Special.

The 73rd Emmy Awards airs Sunday, Sept. 19, (8-11 p.m. ET/5-8 p.m. PT live) on CBS and Paramount+.

SUBSCRIBE NOW: Enjoy 4 Digital Plus 2 Print/Digital Issues Of Watch Per Year — For Free!