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After a hiatus last year due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the glittery award shows in the entertainment world are making a comeback. Tonight, September 19, 2021, the Primetime Emmys make their triumphant return. Planning to watch? Before you settle in, check out the facts, names and potential surprises that may be in store. Our correspondent and resident cineaste Abbie Martin Greenbaum has written an expert guide on what you need to know and how to enjoy tonight’s Primetime Emmy Awards 2021. Pop the popcorn, and let’s do this!

it helps to have a guide if you hope to fully enjoy tonight’s Primetime Emmy Awards 2021

After last year’s virtual ceremony, the Emmy Awards will return for their 73rd year with a live and in-person ceremony.

Since many of us have relied heavily on the comfort of TV during these last two years, it feels fitting that we should take some time to honor the hard work that goes into producing such compelling narratives.


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You can see all of the nominees here, and this is some of what you can expect from next week’s ceremony.  Tune in on September 19th at 8 pm to celebrate the best and most talented players in television.

Here’s what you need to know to enjoy tonight’s primetime Emmy Awards 2021

1. Host Cedric the Entertainer

The host of any awards show has an enormous job. They are responsible for setting the tone for the evening, and for landing the jokes that will make audiences want to stick around for a two-hour show. And with comedian extraordinaire Cedric the Entertainer hosting this year’s Emmy Awards, we know that the ceremony is in good hands.

expert guide on how to enjoy tonight's Primetime Emmy Awards 2021

Our expert guide on how to enjoy tonight’s Primetime Emmy Awards 2021.

When teasing his plans for the show to People, the host hinted at a sketch where he will appear in some of the most popular shows, like The Crown and Succession. We can’t wait to see what he has in store for us.


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2. Ted Lasso, Ted Lasso, Ted Lasso

If you’ve set foot – or perhaps hand – on the Internet anytime over the last year and a half, then you already know all about Ted Lasso: the once-an-underdog TV show that is now the most popular series about soccer to ever grace our computer screens.

expert guide on how to enjoy tonight's Primetime Emmy Awards 2021

What you need to know about tonight’s Primetime Emmy Awards 2021.

Jason Sudeikis’s comedy has earned itself 20 nominations – a new record for a first season comedy. The nods include Best Comedy Series, and seven acting nominations its cast. We expect the night to be full of honors for this special and heartwarming show.

3. Lots of love for HBO

In news that is completely in-keeping with precedent, HBO has emerged with the most nominations. They received 130, which is more than any network, and also more than any other streaming platform (albeit, only one more than Netflix, who received 129 nominations).

Our expert guide on how to enjoy tonight’s Primetime Emmy Awards 2021.

This should come as no surprise. HBO is often the name behind the buzziest and best-received dramas, all of which tend to veer into the dark and the serious. This year, its most nominated show is Lovecraft Country, which received eighteen nominations.

4. Historical Nominees

Even before 2021’s winners are announced, there are already many firsts among this year’s slate of nominees. As discussed by the Hollywood Reporter,  MJ Rodriguez (Pose) is the first trans woman to be nominated in the Leading Actress category.

What you need to know about tonight's Primetime Emmy Awards 2021.

What you need to know about tonight’s Primetime Emmy Awards 2021.

Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett (Lovecraft Country) are the first Black lead actor and Black lead actress to be nominated for the same series in the same year.

5. The Crown vs. The Mandalorian

What do the royals and Baby Yoda have in common? Well, their shows tied for the most awards for a drama – 24 each. And of course, both are up for Best Drama, along with The Boys, Bridgerton, Handmaid’s Tale, Lovecraft Country, Pose, and This is Us.

The stacked category runs the gamut across genres, and is a perfect example of the rich, varied content we all get to enjoy on a regular basis. Though it seems extremely likely that The Crown will collect this year’s trophy, any of these shows could deserve the title.


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6. Notable Limited Series Nominees

Many of the year’s best stories are nominated not under the Best Drama or Best Comedy categories, but under Best Limited Series. I May Destroy You, Mare of Easttown, The Queen’s Gambit, The Underground Railroad, and WandaVision were five of the best and most critically-acclaimed productions of 2020 and 2021.

Emmy Awards preview 2021. Courtesy Photo.

It’s hard to think of two better shows from this past year than Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You and Barry Jenkins’ The Underground Railroad, and we can’t wait to see one of them take home the prize.

7. Debbie Allen wins Governors Award

Every year, the Governors Award is given to one person, project, or organization for their outstanding achievement in the arts. Past recipients have included Tyler Perry, Star Trek, and ITVS.

This year, Debbie Allen will receive the award, both for her incredible contributions to the medium, and for her philanthropic work.

8. Extraordinary Performances

You don’t need us to tell you that this year’s performance nominees are all worth writing home about. Across both the Lead and Supporting categories, in Dramas, Comedies, and Limited Series, it’s hard to imagine a better year in television.

Only time can tell who will take home this year’s awards.

9. Two Separate Ceremonies

Although we have to wait until next weekend to see the winning actors, actresses, and series, some of this year’s Emmy Awards have already been given out. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards were held on September 11th and 12th.

Though the ceremony will not be broadcast until the 18th, we already know who walked home with the night’s top prizes. These were awards given out for technical achievements, as well as writing, directing, and guest star roles.


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10. The Queen’s Gambit Wins Technical Awards

At the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, The Queen’s Gambit took home the most awards, including for costume, makeup, production design, editing, sound editing, and more.

After watching only a few minutes of the show about the chess master, you’ll see why.

11. Bo Burnham Wins for Writing and Directing

Also at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, Bo Burnham accepted the prizes for Writing, Directing and Music Direction, for his one-man show, Bo Burnham: Inside.

Filmed by Burnham inside of his own house, and without a crew, the Netflix special spoke to many about their own pandemic experiences with isolation.

12. Guest Acting Roles Awarded

The trophies for Best Guest Actor and Actress were also awarded, and they went to: Claire Foy (The Crown), Maya Rudolph (SNL), Courtney B. Vance (Lovecraft Country), and Dave Chapelle (SNL).

These feel like a little taste of the awards we’re going to watch next Sunday.

Our expert guide on how to enjoy tonight’s primetime Emmy Awards 2021

That’s our take on the facts and names to know that will help you enjoy tonight’s primetime Emmy Awards for 2021 to the max. Who’s your favorite nominee, dear reader?

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Abbie Martin Greenbaum grew up in New York City and currently lives in Brooklyn, where she drinks a lot of coffee and matches roommates together for a living. At Oberlin College, she studied English and Cinema, which are still two of her favorite things, along with dessert and musical theater. She believes in magic.

Abbie Martin Greenbaum

Abbie Martin Greenbaum is a writer, reader, and pop culture connoisseur, who loves storytelling, coffee, and dessert. Her work has also appeared in Playbill.