Recap: The 2021 Emmy Awards

by The Cowl Editor on September 30, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

Recap: The 2021 Emmy Awards

Popular Programs Win Big in a History-Making Night

Olivia Riportella ’25

The 2021 Emmy Awards were back in person for their 73rd anniversary this year, with fan favorites like The Crown, The Queen’s Gambit, and Ted Lasso winning big. The night was hosted by stand-up comedian Cedric the Entertainer, star of the CBS sitcom The Neighborhood.

This year’s ceremony was especially unique as Netflix took home more awards than any cable network or streaming service. This marks a huge milestone: it was the first time that streaming services outperformed cable TV. Winning in 44 categories, Netflix tied the record for the most Emmy awards in one night since 1974. 

Netflix’s The Crown was the big winner of the Emmys, taking home the most awards of any series with seven total. Among these honors include the top prize of the Emmys, the Best Drama Series category. This marks the first time a Netflix show has won this award. The Crown also made history as the first series to sweep all seven drama categories: Lead Actor, Lead Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Writing, Directing, and Drama Series.

Another show that won an impressive number of Emmys was Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso. It took home four awards in major categories: Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. The show made history by becoming the most nominated freshmen comedy series that the Emmys had ever seen.

The Queen’s Gambit was up for six Emmy awards and took home two of them. One of these awards was for Best Limited Series, beating out strong contenders such as Hamilton, I May Destroy You, Mare of Easttown, The Underground Railroad, and WandaVision. The second was presented specifically to Scott Frank for Outstanding Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series. 

The Emmys achieved a milestone for women this year, with female directors sweeping both the drama and comedy categories. The Crown’s Jessica Hobbs received the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series, and Hacks’ Lucia Aniello was awarded Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series. 

However, this year’s winners lacked diversity and representation. Despite its record lineup of 49 non-white nominees, many people of color were left empty-handed in their respective categories. The majority of trophies, especially the major acting awards, were presented to white people, leading the #EmmysSoWhite hashtag to trend across social media.

Another aspect of the night that many considered disappointing was the winner in the Outstanding Variety Talk Series category. Conan O’Brien’s talk show, Conan, was nominated for its final season in this category but lost to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Although the popularity of Oliver’s program indicates that this was not a snub, many were hoping Conan would walk away with the award for the end of his series’ 28-year run.

Overall, the 2021 Emmys consisted of both highs and lows. The results point to streaming services as the future of television, but also to the need for ongoing conversations about diversity, especially in Hollywood.