With the 2021 Primetime Emmy nominations just made public for the pandemic year of 2021, the network and streaming stakes are on the table.
HBO and HBO Max declared victory with 130 nominations, followed closely by Netflix with 129. "The Mandalorian" on Disney+ tied with "The Crown" on Netflix for the most nominations, 24 each.
You can expect "Ted Lasso" and "Hacks" to fight hard for best comedy series. "The Crown Season 4" will duke it out with "The Mandalorian" for best drama series. And in the hottest race of all, best limited series, it's "The Queen's Gambit" up against the sustained popularity of "Mare of Easttown" and that demanding critics darling, "I May Destroy You."
Winners will be revealed Sunday, Sept. 19 in front of a limited, in-person audience of nominees and their guests. Hey, we're still in pandemic recovery.
Though some picks are surefire, there's no fun in playing favorites, However, when COVID-19 interruptions knocked "Succession," "Stranger Things," "Ozark" and "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" out of the race, the way was cleared for new blood.
The dishiest drama on Emmy nomination day always comes in finding out who the TV Academy snubbed, shafted and left on the scrap heap and what surprise contenders they opted for instead. So go to your battle stations for a look at who's out and who's in.
No one expected producer Tina Fey's giddy pleasure to take out "Ted Lasso," for Emmy gold, but this comic tale of a 1990s one-hit-wonder girl group deserved at least a nomination.
SURPRISE: "Emily in Paris":
That this cloying fluffball won the nomination instead is, well, a shame.
SNUB: "Perry Mason"
The best legal drama in years clearly didn't impress voters except for Matthew Rhys' terrific performance in the role popularized by Raymond Burr.
Once thought to be too much bodice-ripping fun to qualify for drama awards meant for "The Crown," this guilty pleasure made the cut for being, well, too much fun.
SNUB: "Small Axe"
Creator Steve McQueen's brilliant five-part series drawn from his own life as part of London's West Indian community drew praise everywhere as a TV landmark, except from Emmy voters. Go figure.
Emmy voters usually turn up their noses at anything Marvel. But minds were clearly changed by this innovative sensation that turned Wanda's agony over the death of her husband Vision into a tale of unexpressed grief staged as a series of surreal sitcoms.
Actor in a limited series
SNUB: Ethan Hawke in "The Good Lord Bird"
Ignoring Hawke's magnificent performance as John Brown made me angrier than any Emmy omission this year.
Actress in a limited series
SNUB: Thuso Mbedu in "The Underground Railroad"
Emmy was really asleep at the wheel for not rewarding this superb South African actress for her performance as a runaway slave. She's unforgettable.
SURPRISE: Michaela Coel in "I May Destroy You"
There's no argument here about Coel making the cut. If anyone can give Kate Winslet ("Mare of Easttown") and Anya Taylor-Joy ("The Queen's Gambit") a run for the Emmy gold in the toughest acting category, it's Coel.
Actress in a comedy series
SNUB: Jane Levy in "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist"
Emmy is clearly blind to the merits of this series and Levy's extraordinary performance. History will surely shame them.
Aidy Bryant in "Shrill" It's great to see the "Saturday Night Live" favorite prove her acting chops, even in a category that belongs to Jean Smart in "Hacks."
Actor in a comedy series
SNUB: Ralph Macchio in "Cobra Kai"
What does the TV Academy have against the Karate Kid? Macchio is pushing 60 and still has no Emmy love.
SURPRISE: William H. Macy in "Shameless"
It's nice to see Macy name-checked for his final season on "Shameless," but to snub Macchio to do it seems petty since Jason Sudeikis ("Ted Lasso") already has the prize locked up.
Supporting actor in a comedy series
SNUB: Wyatt Russell in "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier"
This dude was so good wrestling with his hero and villain sides on a terrific Marvel series that unfairly got the back of Emmy's hand.
SURPRISE: Evan Peters in "Mare of Easttown"
Three actors from "Hamilton" made the cut, but I'm most pleased seeing Peters in the mix as Mare's smitten partner in crime.
Supporting actress in a drama series
SNUB: Brooke Smith in "Big Sky"
She financed her own Emmy campaign and raised the level of the series with her transcendent performance as the wronged wife of a cold-blooded killer. Maybe it hurts being on a network show in the era of streaming. Smith deserved better.
SURPRISE: Emerald Fennell in "The Crown"
The Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Promising Young Woman" could have been forgotten for her stellar performance as Camilla Parker Bowles, but she wasn't and can now applaud as she loses Emmy to her "Crown" costar, Gillian Anderson.
Variety talk series
SNUB: "Late Night with Seth Meyers"
Is it that Emmy nominators don't stay up late enough to see how Meyers seized the pandemic moment with the sharpest and funniest satirical barbs on TV?