The BuzzMeter: Experts predict the 2021 Emmys - and so can you

·12 min read
Jason Sudeikis, Emma Corrin, Michaela Coel and Michael K. Williams are Emmy contenders.
"Ted Lasso" (starring Jason Sudeikis), "The Crown" (starring Emma Corrin), "I May Destroy You" (starring Michaela Coel) and Michael Kenneth Williams of "Lovecraft Country" are all favorites for Emmys, according to Round 1 of the 2021 Emmy BuzzMeter. (Apple TV+/Netflix/HBO Max/HBO Max)

The 2021 Emmys are coming, and our Buzzmeter panel of experts is coming after them.

Our six veteran TV journalists have their ears to the ground as they survey the advance tremors in 14 categories. In this first of three rounds, they list shows and performers they think will get attention from the academy, as well as others they think deserve to be in the conversation (collectively, what's getting "buzz"). As we get closer to the July 13 nominations announcement, they'll make their Round 2 predictions for what they think actually will be nominated. After that, they'll predict the winners in Round 3.

Your 2020 Emmy Buzzmeter panel!
Your 2021 Emmy BuzzMeter panel: Lorraine Ali (The Los Angeles Times), Kristen Baldwin (Entertainment Weekly), Tom O'Neil (Gold Derby), Matt Roush (TV Guide), Sonia Saraiya (Vanity Fair), Glenn Whipp (The Los Angeles Times) (The Los Angeles Times, Kristen Baldwin, Tom O'Neil, Matt Roush, Tanya Saraiya, The Los Angeles Times)

This week, we feature the panel's picks for what's getting buzz for best comedy series. Not only can you check out all their Emmy predictions below; you can vote for your favorites in the polls for each week's featured category.

It's startling to realize, as panelist Glenn Whipp points out, Netflix has never won a series Emmy — drama or comedy — considering its lineage includes "House of Cards," "Orange Is the New Black," "Ozark" and, of course, "The Crown." Upstart Apple TV+ is in position to break that seal this year with comedy favorite "Ted Lasso." Is this the year the juggernaut of streamers lumbers off with the Emmy "Crown"?

Jason Sudeikis and Brett Goldstein in the soccer team's locker room in a scene from "Ted Lasso."
Jason Sudeikis and Brett Goldstein in a scene from the heavily favored "Ted Lasso." (Pop TV)

The gentle "Ted Lasso" is on a breakaway, with the mixed-genre hit "The Flight Attendant" the only other title between it and the goal (says the panel).

That's not to say the competition isn't stiff — and varied. Some quirky shows make the list ("PEN15," "Dickinson", "Made for Love," "Search Party"), with "black-ish," "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist" and "Mom" representing the broadcast networks.

  1. "Ted Lasso"

  2. "The Flight Attendant"

  3. "Hacks"

  4. "The Kominsky Method"

  5. "PEN15"

  6. "Dickinson"

  7. "Master of None"

  8. "Search Party"

  9. "Cobra Kai"

  10. "black-ish"

  11. "Made for Love"

  12. "I Hate Suzie"

  13. "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist"

  14. "Girls5Eva"

  15. "Mom"

Season 4 of "The Crown" tells the story of Prince Charles (Josh O'Connor) and Princess Diana (Emma Corrin).
Season 4 of "The Crown" largely concerns the tortured marriage of Prince Charles (Josh O'Connor) and Princess Diana (Emma Corrin). (Des Willie/Netflix)

Meter, meter on the wall, what’s the buzziest of them all?

OK, it’s “The Crown,” by a lot, but what else are our pugnacious prognosticators picking to compete for the drama series Emmy in Round 1?

The category has some of the usual suspects — “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “This Is Us”; some new blood — “Bridgerton,” “Lovecraft Country”; and some that might surprise — “The Boys,” “P-Valley.” The question is, what's to stop this from being anything but a coronation for "The Crown," which, surprisingly, has never won for drama series?

  1. “The Crown”

  2. “The Handmaid’s Tale”

  3. “The Mandalorian”

  4. “Bridgerton”

  5. “Pose”

  6. “Lovecraft Country”

  7. “In Treatment”

  8. “The Boys”

  9. "Perry Mason”

  10. “Godfather of Harlem”

  11. “This Is Us”

  12. “P-Valley”

Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II in "The Crown."
Hellooooo! The Buzzmeter thinks "The Crown's" Olivia Colman is in line to add an Emmy to keep her Oscar company. (Netflix)

Although Emma Corrin comes in fourth in the first-round rankings, several of our panelists believe the race is a dead heat between her and the Queen Mum herself, Oscar winner Olivia Colman. On the other hand, both Uzo Aduba and Elisabeth Moss have won before — Aduba three times, including last year, Moss twice (once as producer) — and Moss' arc on "Handmaid's Tale" is bending more and more extremely.

  1. Olivia Colman ("The Crown")

  2. Uzo Aduba ("In Treatment")

  3. Elisabeth Moss ("The Handmaid's Tale")

  4. Emma Corrin ("The Crown")

  5. Jurnee Smollett ("Lovecraft Country")

  6. Phoebe Dynevor ("Bridgerton")

  7. Mj Rodriguez ("Pose")

  8. Sarah Paulson ("Ratched")

  9. Aya Cash ("The Boys")

  10. Brandee Evans ("P-Valley")

  11. Erin Moriarty ("The Boys")

  12. Mandy Moore ("This Is Us")

Josh O'Connor is an Emmy favorite for his portrayal of Prince Charles in "The Crown."
Josh O'Connor is first in line for the throne among lead actors in a drama for his portrayal of Prince Charles in "The Crown." (Alex Bailey/Netflix)

Yet another category with a "Crown" atop it: Josh O'Connor's portrayal of a tortured, spineless Prince Charles. Panelist Matt Roush sees the possibility of a "Schitt's Creek"-like sweep (flood?).

However, O'Connor's first-round points total is just ahead of previous winner Billy Porter in the final season of "Pose," and this would be the academy's only opportunity to handsomely reward Regé-Jean Page for "Bridgerton." Watch out for upsets — "Mosquito Coast's" reception may be mixed, but the praise for Justin Theroux's lead performance is widespread. Also: No fewer than five portrayals of action heroes as you've never seen them make the list.

  1. Josh O'Connor ("The Crown")

  2. Billy Porter ("Pose")

  3. Regé-Jean Page ("Bridgerton")

  4. Matthew Rhys ("Perry Mason")

  5. Jonathan Majors ("Lovecraft Country")

  6. Sterling K. Brown ("This Is Us")

  7. Pedro Pascal ("Mandalorian")

  8. Antony Starr ("The Boys")

  9. Justin Theroux ("Mosquito Coast")

  10. Anthony Mackie ("The Falcon and the Winter Soldier")

  11. Karl Urban ("The Boys")

  12. Sebastian Stan ("The Falcon and the Winter Soldier")

Gillian Anderson is an Emmy favorite for her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Crown."
Gillian Anderson is an Emmy favorite for her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in a season of "The Crown" that sometimes found her pitted against the Queen herself. (Sophie Mutevelian/Netflix)

Three from "The Handmaid's Tale," but four from "The Crown" make our first-round list. Gillian Anderson has already won the SAG and the Critics' Choice Award for her turn as Margaret Thatcher. Meryl Streep, of course, won an Oscar as the "Iron Lady." Might there be an echo here after John Lithgow won the supporting-actor Emmy as Winston Churchill in Season 1 of "The Crown," then Gary Oldman won the Oscar as Churchill for "Darkest Hour?"

Or might Oscar-winning castmate Emerald Fennell (as Camilla Parker-Bowles) or Wunmi Mosaku, the singing sister who ... goes through some things in "Lovecraft Country" get to say "Stand Down Margaret?"

  1. Gillian Anderson ("The Crown")

  2. Helena Bonham Carter ("The Crown")

  3. Wunmi Mosaku ("Lovecraft Country")

  4. Ann Dowd ("The Handmaid's Tale")

  5. Emerald Fennell ("The Crown")

  6. Tatiana Maslany ("Perry Mason")

  7. Yvonne Strahovski ("The Handmaid's Tale")

  8. Samira Wiley ("The Handmaid's Tale")

  9. Aunjanue Ellis ("Lovecraft Country")

  10. Nicola Coughlan ("Bridgerton")

  11. Erin Doherty ("The Crown")

  12. Cynthia Nixon ("Ratched")

  13. Chloe Sevigny ("We Are Who We Are")

Michael K. Williams' turn as the complicated father in "Lovecraft Country" might earn the veteran actor his first Emmy.
Michael K. Williams' turn as the complicated father in "Lovecraft Country" might earn the veteran actor his first Emmy. (Eli Joshua Ade/HBO)

In one of the most evenly matched of all the Emmy races in Round 1, the BuzzMeter panel has spread its support among 14 candidates, with strong rationales for many of them — and someone besides a "Crown" actor on top (Michael Kenneth Williams, who, surprisingly, has yet to win an Emmy).

Of course, second place belongs to "The Crown" — for Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip. While sentimentality over the real-life death of his character might come into play, it's more likely he'll contend because of just how sharply the actor has refined that portrayal over two seasons.

Panelist Kristen Baldwin thinks HBO's revival of "In Treatment" will make noise here, but have trouble overcoming the soft-spoken Philip.

  1. Michael Kenneth Williams ("Lovecraft Country")

  2. Tobias Menzies ("The Crown")

  3. Bradley Whitford ("The Handmaid's Tale")

  4. Giancarlo Esposito ("Mandalorian")

  5. John Lithgow ("Perry Mason")

  6. John Benjamin Hickey ("In Treatment")

  7. Ken Leung ("Industry")

  8. Jonathan Bailey ("Bridgerton")

  9. Daniel Bruhl ("The Falcon and the Winter Soldier")

  10. Stephen Root ("Perry Mason")

  11. Anthony Ramos ("In Treatment")

  12. Chris Sullivan ("This Is Us")

  13. Justin Hartley ("This Is Us")

  14. Wyatt Russell, (“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”)

Kaley Cuoco in an airplane in a scene from her first big post-"Big Bang Theory" success "The Flight Attendant."
Kaley Cuoco soared to her first big post-"Big Bang Theory" success in "The Flight Attendant." (Phil Caruso/HBO)

This one is shaping up as Kaley Cuoco vs. Jean Smart (a lot of love being shown Smart by the panel, with Sonia Saraiya hoping this is her moment — or at least another moment, as the actress has three wins out of nine nominations), but Cristin Milioti could sneak up on them for the underseen "Made for Love" and "Hamilton" Tony winner Renée Elise Goldsberry could be in the mix if "Girls5Eva" makes some noise.

  1. Kaley Cuoco ("The Flight Attendant")

  2. Jean Smart ("Hacks")

  3. Maya Erskine ("PEN15")

  4. Cristin Milioti ("Made for Love")

  5. Tracee Ellis Ross ("black-ish")

  6. Jane Levy ("Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist")

  7. Anna Konkle ("PEN15")

  8. Lena Waithe ("Master of None")

  9. Alia Shawkat ("Search Party")

  10. Allison Janney ("Mom")

  11. Hailee Steinfeld ("Dickinson")

  12. Renée Elise Goldsberry ("Girls5Eva")

  13. Billie Piper ("I Hate Suzie")

  14. Lily Collins ("Emily in Paris")

Kaley Cuoco in an airplane in a scene from her first big post-"Big Bang Theory" success "The Flight Attendant."
Kaley Cuoco soared to her first big post-"Big Bang Theory" success in "The Flight Attendant." (Phil Caruso/HBO)

Jason Sudeikis is the favorite, with Oscar winner Michael Douglas close behind him, but at least one panelist hopes William Zabka of "Cobra Kai" sweeps the leg.

  1. Jason Sudeikis ("Ted Lasso")

  2. Michael Douglas ("Kominsky Method")

  3. Anthony Anderson ("black-ish")

  4. Ted Danson ("Mr. Mayor")

  5. William Zabka ("Cobra Kai")

  6. William H. Macy ("Shameless")

  7. Kenan Thompson ("Kenan")

  8. Ralph Macchio ("Cobra Kai")

  9. Billy Magnussen ("Made for Love")

  10. Martin Freeman ("Breeders")

  11. Alan Tudyk ("Resident Alien")

  12. Ben Feldman ("Superstore")

  13. Rob McElhenney ("Mythic Quest")

  14. Ben Platt ("The Politician")

  15. Walton Goggins ("The Unicorn")

Hannah Waddingham peers out a car window in a scene from "Ted Lasso."
Hannah Waddingham has a strong character arc as the initially duplicitous team owner in "Ted Lasso." (Apple TV+)

The two standout ladies from "Ted Lasso" rule the roost in an absolutely loaded field.

A staggering 18 actresses received votes in Round 1, with three from "Saturday Night Live" bubbling just under the Top 8 to join castmates and Emmy favorites Kate McKinnon and Maya Rudolph.

  1. Hannah Waddingham ("Ted Lasso")

  2. Juno Temple ("Ted Lasso")

  3. Kate McKinnon ("Saturday Night Live")

  4. Maya Rudolph ("Saturday Night Live")

  5. Rosie Perez ("The Flight Attendant")

  6. Zosia Mamet ("The Flight Attendant")

  7. Jane Krakowski ("Dickinson")

  8. Kathleen Turner ("The Kominsky Method")

  9. Chloe Fineman ("Saturday Night Live")

  10. Aidy Bryant ("Saturday Night Live")

  11. Cecily Strong ("Saturday Night Live")

  12. Michelle Gomez ("The Flight Attendant")

  13. Holly Hunter ("Mr. Mayor")

  14. Meredith Hagner ("Search Party")

  15. Laurie Metcalf ("The Conners")

  16. Bette Midler ("The Politician")

  17. Paula Pell ("Girls5Eva")

  18. Mary Steenburgen ("Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist")

Hannah Waddingham peers out a car window in a scene from "Ted Lasso."
Hannah Waddingham has a strong character arc as the initially duplicitous team owner in "Ted Lasso." (Apple TV+)

Not to be outdone, the men logged 19 supporting actors receiving first-round votes. With the votes so spread out, there are no slam dunks, but "Ted Lasso" and "Saturday Night Live" have multiple candidates near the top and some panelists hope John Early is finally recognized for his incorrigible scene-stealing on "Search Party."

Michiel Huisman tops the BuzzMeter's Round 1 list, though his character's not exactly a laugh riot — fitting for a show ("The Flight Attendant") that swings from comedy to mystery to drama to thriller at the drop of an in-flight menu. Costar T.R. Knight also makes the list, also in a non-guffaw-inducing role, as the brother who is the emotional heart of the show.

  1. Michiel Huisman ("The Flight Attendant")

  2. Bowen Yang ("Saturday Night Live")

  3. Brett Goldstein ("Ted Lasso")

  4. Kenan Thompson ("Saturday Night Live")

  5. John Early ("Search Party")

  6. Nick Mohammed ("Ted Lasso")

  7. Laurence Fishburne ("Black-ish")

  8. Alex Newell ("Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist")

  9. Ray Romano ("Made for Love")

  10. Jeremy Swift ("Ted Lasso")

  11. Beck Bennett ("Saturday Night Live")

  12. Brendan Hunt ("Ted Lasso")

  13. Michael Che ("Saturday Night Live")

  14. Don Johnson ("Kenan")

  15. T.R. Knight ("The Flight Attendant")

  16. Lance Reddick ("Corporate")

  17. Aziz Ansari ("Master of None")

  18. Patton Oswalt ("A.P. Bio")

  19. Colin Jost ("Saturday Night Live")

Hannah Waddingham peers out a car window in a scene from "Ted Lasso."
Hannah Waddingham has a strong character arc as the initially duplicitous team owner in "Ted Lasso." (Apple TV+)

Limited series continues to be a packed, glamour category with some of the most talked-about titles in any category — and that's without the sensation "WandaVision" making the Round 1 Top 5.

Netflix hit "The Queen's Gambit" and critics' darling "Small Axe" are formidable competition, but our panel has Michael Coel's "I May Destroy You" well out in front.

Surprisingly not receiving votes: "The Undoing," "The Comey Rule" and "The Good Lord Bird."

  1. “I May Destroy You”

  2. “Small Axe”

  3. “The Queen's Gambit”

  4. “Mare of Easttown”

  5. “The Underground Railroad”

  6. “WandaVision”

  7. “Genius: Aretha”

Hannah Waddingham peers out a car window in a scene from "Ted Lasso."
Hannah Waddingham has a strong character arc as the initially duplicitous team owner in "Ted Lasso." (Apple TV+)

Period romance "Sylvie's Love" (starring Tessa Thompson and former NFL star Nnamdi Asomugha) leads the pack, with the filmed version of Heidi Schreck's Broadway hit "What the Constitution Means to Me" among those drawing passionate praise.

  1. “Sylvie's Love”

  2. “The Mahalia Jackson Story”

  3. “Uncle Frank”

  4. “What the Constitution Means to Me”

  5. “Oslo”

  6. “An American Pickle”

  7. “Euphoria”

  8. “Christmas on the Square”

Hannah Waddingham peers out a car window in a scene from "Ted Lasso."
Hannah Waddingham has a strong character arc as the initially duplicitous team owner in "Ted Lasso." (Apple TV+)

It's a very close race between Michaela Coel and Anya Taylor-Joy (winner of the SAG and Critics' Choice awards for the role), with strong support for all seven actresses receiving votes.

  1. Michaela Coel ("I May Destroy You")

  2. Anya Taylor-Joy ("The Queen's Gambit")

  3. Kate Winslet ("Mare of Easttown")

  4. Cynthia Erivo ("Genius: Aretha")

  5. Elizabeth Olsen ("WandaVision")

  6. Thuso Mbedu ("The Underground Railroad")

  7. Zendaya ("Euphoria")

Hannah Waddingham peers out a car window in a scene from "Ted Lasso."
Hannah Waddingham has a strong character arc as the initially duplicitous team owner in "Ted Lasso." (Apple TV+)

Ethan Hawke has been nominated for four Oscars and a Tony. He's a strong candidate for his first Emmy nomination this year — maybe several, for acting in, writing and co-creating and producing "The Good Lord Bird."

  1. Ethan Hawke ("The Good Lord Bird")

  2. John Boyega ("Small Axe")

  3. Hugh Grant ("The Undoing")

  4. Paul Bettany ("WandaVision")

  5. Jeff Daniels ("The Comey Rule")

  6. Bryan Cranston ("Your Honor")

  7. Ewan McGregor ("Halston")

  8. Alessandro Nivola ("Black Narcissus")

  9. Chase W. Dillon ("The Underground Railroad")

  10. Chris Rock ("Fargo")

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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