The pandemic affected the entertainment industry in a number of ways, halting production schedules as well as the traditional moviegoing experience for cinephiles across the world. One thing that remained unchanged in the pandemic was audiences’ thirst for binge-worthy series and intriguing acting performances, and the 2020-21 television season did not disappoint.
Bringing escapism to viewers whose lives were undoubtedly put into turmoil by the COVID-19 pandemic, new seasons of Emmy favorites “The Crown,” “Pose” and “Saturday Night Live” brought a respite from the feeling of impending doom, but the true standouts were the eclectic group of limited series that the past year has brought.
On July 13, the Television Academy revealed the nominations for the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards. Fittingly, the class of nominees reflected the diverse, daring works that have helped so many through the past year.
The drama categories were led by previous winner “The Crown,” “The Mandalorian” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” while the limited series categories brought strong showings from the critically acclaimed “Wandavision,” “I May Destroy You” and “The Queen’s Gambit.” Leading the comedy nominees was Apple TV’s uplifting “Ted Lasso.”
The Crown (Netflix)
One of the most lavish dramas to come out of the past decade, “The Crown” scored a stellar 24 nominations, with an astounding nine acting performances honored in the acting categories.
The most striking aspect of the prestigious series is its meticulously crafted sets and costuming and its extensive exploration of Queen Elizabeth’s most notable years.
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
The grim drama series based on Margaret Atwood’s classic novel of the same name collected 21 nominations in its fourth season. While the suspenseful, dystopian series is not exactly an escape from the stress and confusion of the pandemic, the profound themes of survival and emotive performances continued to resonate with viewers and the Television Academy alike.
I May Destroy You (HBO)
An unflinching look at the difficulty of maintaining one’s identity in the wake of a traumatic sexual experience, Michaela Coel’s groundbreaking limited series secured nine nominations.
Doreen St. Félix of The New Yorker described the series as a “semi-fictional portrait of [Coel] and her social world,” drawing off of her own past experiences to contribute to the show’s harshly realistic tone.
The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)
Scoring 18 nominations, Scott Frank’s limited series centering around the life of a troubled chess player played by Anya Taylor-Joy not only revived audiences’ interest in the classic game, but also explored the high pressure that is put upon anyone at the top of their field.
Ted Lasso (Apple TV)
The uplifting comedy series starring Jason Sudeikis as the lovable titular football coach garnered 20 nominations, leading all comedy series. Full of inspirational quotes and amusing dialogue, the show provided viewers with an escape from the pandemic, leaving them walking away from the show feeling inspired.
A modernized take on the classic Marvel Comics, “Wandavision” received 23 nominations, the most of any limited series.
TV Line’s Rebecca Iannucci described the show as “an intriguing, fresh, genuinely delightful deviation from what we’ve come to expect,” anchored by terrific production design and top-notch performances from Elizabeth Olsen and Kathryn Hahn.
The Mandalorian (Disney+)
Disney+’s other crown jewel of the 2020-21 television season was the second season of “The Mandalorian,” picking up 24 nominations. The technical prowess of the “Star Wars'' spinoff series was on full display in season two through its stellar visual effects and set design.
The final season of FX’s trailblazing drama series earned nine nominations, including a historic nomination for Mj Rodriguez, the first transgender performer to be nominated in a lead acting category.
Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) described the show as “a historic show that undoubtedly raised the bar for trans representation on television and changed the way viewers around the world understand the trans community.”