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Emmy Season Begins With Clear Favorites – But Are They Safe?

”The Crown,“ ”Ted Lasso“ and ”The Queen’s Gambit“ may be front runners, but the Oscars proved that doesn’t always mean much


The long, messy and merciless Oscar season has ended with a colossal whimper, and Emmy season is upon us. But in this strangest of all awards seasons, is the race over as soon as it’s begun?

Consider: Among limited series, “The Queen’s Gambit” has won the top award from the Golden Globes, the Critics Choice Awards and the Scripter Awards, and also from these Hollywood guilds or professional societies: the Directors Guild, Producers Guild, Writers Guild, Art Directors Guild, American Cinema Editors, American Society of Cinematographers, Costume Designers Guild, Cinema Audio Society and Motion Picture Sound Editors.

I mean, if it has the best producing, directing, writing, art direction, costumes, cinematography, film editing, sound editing and sound mixing, what chance does anybody else have?

Meanwhile, another Netflix show, “The Crown,” has been the runaway winner in the drama-series categories, taking top prizes from the Screen Actors Guild and Visual Effects Society as well as the ASC, PGA, WGA, Golden Globes and Critics Choice. Its closest rival, “The Mandalorian,” specialized in awards for below-the-line crafts: ASC, CAS, MPSE, ADG, VES.

Only the comedy-series category doesn’t have a dominant front runner — and that’s because the big winner has been “Schitt’s Creek,” which is off the air and ineligible for Emmys after its sweep of the 2020 comedy categories. Guild winners “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Insecure” and “What We Do in the Shadows” are also ineligible this year, which makes Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso” the de facto favorite, buoyed by its Writers Guild and Critics Choice wins.

Of course, the answer to the question I posed at the beginning of this piece — is the race over as soon as it’s begun? — is clearly no.  

Partly, that’s because all of those guilds were using calendar-year eligibility, while the Emmys use a June 1 – May 31 year to coincide with what used to be the TV season. So even though “The Queen’s Gambit” won just about everything it was up for, it wasn’t competing against “Underground Railroad” or “WandaVision” or “Halston” or “Genius: Aretha” or any other shows that premiered in 2021 and may be fresher in viewers’ minds.

In the drama categories, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” didn’t premiere until 2021, while “Pose” has just dropped its final season and “The Handmaid’s Tale” has returned for a fourth season after landing Outstanding Drama Series nominations for each of its first three, winning once.

In addition, “Bridgerton” premiered in late December so it was eligible for some of the guild awards, but it became more of a sensation (and Netflix’s most-watched show) in 2021, with Regé-Jean Page becoming a breakout star and hosting “Saturday Night Live.”

And the comedy category is downright confusing, because only one of last year’s nominees, “The Kominsky Method,” is even eligible. “Schitt’s Creek” and “The Good Place” have gone off the air, while in a year of production delays caused by the pandemic, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Dead to Me,” “Insecure” and “What We Do in the Shadows” didn’t air new seasons during the eligibility period.

Momentum can be a fickle thing during awards season, and the 20,000-plus voters in the Television Academy are a fickle lot. So that means that yes, we have obvious favorites in Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Comedy Series and especially Outstanding Limited Series – but there’s still six weeks to go before nomination voting begins, nine-and-a-half weeks to go before nominations are announced and four-and-a-half months to go before the 73rd Primetime Emmys.

So let’s just say that “The Crown,” “Ted Lasso” and “The Queen’s Gambit” are definitely going to win, in the same way that Chadwick Boseman was definitely going to win the Best Actor Oscar.