Emmys 2021 predictions: from ‘Bridgerton’ to ‘Mare of Easttown’ – who will be nominated?

Here are our predictions for the TV shows and actors who will be nominated for this year's Primetime Emmys

In his speech for the Bafta TV Awards this week, Prince William called television "a collective beacon of light during these challenging times", and nothing could be truer. As many people have been stuck at home during the pandemic and cinemas closed due to restrictions, viewers turned to networks and streaming platforms to keep themselves entertained.

Television rose to the challenge to deliver comedy, drama and limited series which got the world binge-watching and tweeting, with lively social media discourse a stand-in for the traditional water-cooler chats.

The Primetime Emmys may still be a few months away, airing on September 19, but as with the Oscars, campaigning starts way ahead of time, and with eligibility closing on May 31 frontrunners have already emerged in pursuit of one of those golden statuettes.

With 27 awards up for grabs across seven categories, including Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie and Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series, here are the actors and TV shows gaining traction in the countdown to the awards …

Comedy Series

Jason Sudeikis's sleeper hit for Apple TV+, the football-based comedy Ted Lasso looks set to be one to beat at this year's Emmys.

Sudeikis scooped the gong for Musical or Comedy Series Actor at the Golden Globes in March for his portrayal of the eponymous Ted Lasso, an American football coach who travels to England to take up the role of manager for the fictional football team, AFC Richmond.

Another comedy tipped for a nomination is Kaley Cuoco's latest project, HBO Max's The Flight Attendant in which she plays air stewardess, Cassie Bowden, who wakes up to find a murdered man in her bed.

Other contenders in the comedy category include Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, Dickinson, which could also receive a nod for its star Hailee Steinfeld, and Shrill, which stars SNL favourite, Aidy Bryant.

Drama Series

The drama category will be one of the most closely fought in years thanks to the quality of pandemic-era scripted drama on offer.

Leading the pack is Netflix's monster hit, Bridgerton, which follows the lives and loves of the well-to-do Bridgerton family in 19th-century England, and which made a star – and James Bond contender – out of Rege-Jean Page.

Disney+ will be hoping to replicate the success of The Mandalorian, which was nominated in this category last year, with Avengers spin-off The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. London is in the spotlight with the Lena Dunham-produced investment company-expose Industry, and the Victorian-era sci-fi series The Nevers vying for attention, with both shows set in the British capital.

Other contenders include Apple TV+'s Justin Theroux-starrer The Mosquito Coast and Matthew Rhys's post-The Americans hit, Perry Mason.

Limited or Anthology Series

Shows need to be two or more episodes long, with a total run-time of 150 minutes to qualify in this hotly contested category.

Following up in their Genius anthology series which has already shone the spotlight on Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso, National Geographic's Genius: Aretha, which follows the life and times of legendary soul singer Aretha Franklin is a shoo-in.

Following on from its Golden Globes win for Best Limited Series, Anthology Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, Netflix's The Queen's Gambit is a favourite, alongside Barry Jenkins' hard-hitting historical series, The Underground Railroad, about the network of hidden routes and safe houses established during the mid-19th century in the US to help enslaved African-Americans escape the South.

British director Steve McQueen's Small Axe, streaming on Amazon Prime Video and starring Star Wars and Black Panther alumni John Boyega and Letitia Wright, has won a legion of fans for its portrayal of the real-life experiences of London's West Indian community between the late '60s and early '80s.

The London-set I May Destroy You, and Kate Winslet's Mare of Easttown, currently streaming on OSN, are also likely to make the final list of nominees.

Lead and Supporting Actresses

With a Grammy, Emmy and Tony award already under her belt, British actress Cynthia Erivo is very likely to be nominated for Lead Actress in the Limited Series category for Genius: Aretha, in which she plays Franklin.

Another name sure to be in contention is Anya Taylor-Joy for Lead Actress in The Queen's Gambit, with Joy already coming off Best Actress wins at both the Golden Globes and Screen Actor's Guild for her portrayal of chess prodigy Beth Harmon in Netflix's hit show.

In the Supporting Actress category, Mare of Easttown's Julianne Nicholson, who plays Lori Ross, and Jean Smart, who plays Helen Fahey, are both tipped to receive nods, while the show's star, Winslet is guaranteed a nomination for Lead Actress.

Another heavy-hitter and fellow Oscar-winner, Nicole Kidman will probably receive a nomination for The Undoing.

Lead and Supporting Actors

Fan favourite Bryan Cranston could hear his name read out as a nominee for Lead Actor for his role as Judge Michael Desiato in Showtime's Your Honor. The same can be said for Hugh Grant, for his role as the wily Dr Jonathan Fraser in HBO's The Undoing, which also earned him Golden Globes and Sag nominations.

Other contenders in the Lead category include Paul Bettany, who could possibly do the double with nominations for WandaVision by Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video's Uncle Frank. Australian actor, Joel Edgerton is another name to watch having received rave reviews for his role of Ridgeway in The Underground Railroad.

When it comes to the Supporting category, fans of Bridgerton could see Jonathan Bailey, who played Anthony Bridgerton, nominated, along with fellow Brit, Tobias Menzies for his portrayal of Prince Philip in The Crown.

Other potential contenders include Chris Sullivan for his portrayal of Toby Damon in This Is Us, Daniel Bruhl as Baron Zemo in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Lin-Manuel Miranda for His Dark Materials, although the multi-hyphenate could also be looking at a Lead Actor nod for the incredible musical Hamilton.

The 73rd Primetime Emmy nominations will be announced on July 13 and the ceremony will air on September 19