Emmy Predictions: Best Comedy Series – Are ‘Ted Lasso’s’ Challengers ‘Cobra Kai’ and ‘Hacks?’

Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Emmys ceremonies from film awards editor Clayton Davis. Following history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Emmy predictions are updated regularly with the current year's list of contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. The eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and is subject to change.

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UPDATED: Aug 19, 2021

AWARDS PREDICTION COMMENTARY: Our favorite coach and all-around biscuit-baking extraordinaire unveiled its charm on the world at the height of the pandemic, and every moment that’s followed has been just a tad better to endure. With 20 nominations, Apple TV Plus’ “Ted Lasso” is Emmy’s most nominated freshman comedy. Among those are four noms for executive producer, star and co-writer Jason Sudeikis, and Brendan Hunt’s partner. It also landed four mentions for supporting actor comedy, three for directing, two for supporting actress comedy and writing, and the cherry on top, casting. It has all the makings of a comedy series winner and has picked up big awards to get to this point.

With the second season currently airing, reinvigorating that passion again, the streamer’s leading contender is eyeing to break the record held by “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” who is currently the most awarded freshman comedy with nine. Of course, it would be shocking if it didn’t, at minimum, tie the record. So it’s wise to bet on “Lasso.”

The comedy frontrunner has chosen to submit the following titles for final Emmy voting – “Pilot,” “Trent Crimm: The Independent,” “Tan Lines,” “Make Rebecca Great Again,” “All Apologies” and “The Hope That Kills You.”

If the world didn’t know that it’s a better place when Jean Smart inhabits it, they know it now with her work on the initial season of HBO Max’s “Hacks.” Dropping at the tail end of the eligibility period in mid-May, it kicked in the awards season doors with a remarkable 14 Emmy nominations. That tally also includes multiple artisan categories for Carl Clemons-Hopkins, the first openly nonbinary actor to be acknowledged.

Awards bodies love to embrace projects that are about their industry, which “Hacks” does brilliantly. Unfortunately, that could make it a high probability to upset in categories that once seemed made for stories surrounding soccer and murders. With the expansion of the available slots, this year also marks the most freshman series ever to be recognized in this category since 1971 (included winner “All in the Family,” along with “Arnie,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Odd Couple”).

In addition to the pilot episode “There Is No Line,” the HBO Max series has also put forward “Primm,” “Falling,” “New Eyes,” “1.69 Million,” and “I Think She Will.”

After only garnering recognition for stunts for its first two seasons on YouTube, Netflix wields its awards sword, getting the third season of “Cobra Kai” four Emmy nominations, including comedy series.

The continuation of the “Karate Kid” universe found a legion of followers on the streaming platform during COVID, gaining a legion of new and passionate audience members. With its stars Ralph Macchio and William Zabka also recognized as two of the nominated executive producers, it serves as an alternative for positive narratives for the Emmys to recognize.

The continuation series has opted for the episodes “Nature vs. Nurture,” “The Right Path,” “Miyagi-Do,” “King Cobra,” “Feel the Night” and “December 19” for the TV Academy final voting.

<img class="size-vertical wp-image-1235034304" src="https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Hacks_Jon_Carlos_021-e1628088929619.jpg?w=1000&quot; alt=" - Credit: HBO" width="1000" height="500" srcset="https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Hacks_Jon_Carlos_021-e1628088929619.jpg 1000w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Hacks_Jon_Carlos_021-e1628088929619.jpg?resize=150,75 150w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Hacks_Jon_Carlos_021-e1628088929619.jpg?resize=300,150 300w" sizes="(min-width: 87.5rem) 1000px, (min-width: 78.75rem) 681px, (min-width: 48rem) 450px, (max-width: 48rem) 250px" />HBO

When HBO Max’s “The Flight Attendant” debuted in Nov. 2020, the reviews and love from audiences believed we were witnessing the challenger to another streamer’s presumed frontrunner status. Instead, the adaptation of the novel by Chris Bohjalian picked up an impressive nine Emmy nominations. Still, the number was lower than pundits predicted, missing out on crucial noms for Michiel Huisman and Zosia Mamet.

The first season could have also been penalized by many, feeling it should have competed in drama series rather than the comedy categories, given its more serious overtones and runtime. However, as the show executes a strategy to outmaneuver “Hacks” and “Ted Lasso” in lead actress, writing and directing races (Susanna Fogel did win the DGA Award), it hopes to be the triumphant victor and not just the runner-up in various spots.

The dramedy show has chosen “In Case of Emergency,” “Rabbits,” “Funeralia,” “Conspiracy Theories,” “Other People’s Houses” and “After Dark” for its Emmy offerings.

The seventh season of ABC’s hit sitcom “Black-ish” came roaring back at this year’s Emmys with five nominations, one more than last year, and representing broadcast television in the category.

With those nominations, Anthony Anderson became the most nominated Black actor in comedy series. In addition, Tracee Ellis Ross becomes the first Black actress (along with Michaela Coel for “I May Destroy You”) to be nominated for acting and producing the same year with an executive producer credit. It seems that many of the TV Academy members are aware of those feats. If it hopes to win this big category one day, it can expect its final season next year.

With the Hollywood industry making considerable changes and strides towards diversity and inclusivity, the Chuck Lorre pocket of the Television Academy still manages to show itself, seen by the six nominations for the third and final season of “The Kominsky Method” from Netflix.

The comedy series was snubbed in this space for its first season before popping up in 2020 for its second. This is the most significant embrace seen for the show in its run, garnering three acting noms for Michael Douglas, Paul Reiser and Morgan Freeman, but it also included clutch mentions for casting. While older members could surely rally around it, we don’t think it appeals to the Academy-at-large, which translates into multiple wins.

For the third and final season, Netflix has gone with the episodes “In all the old familiar places,” “You only give me your funny paper,” “And it’s getting more and more absurd,” “The round toes, of the high shoes,” “Near, far, wherever you are” and “The Fundamental Things Apply” for consideration.

The campaign has decided to submit the episodes “Hero Pizza,” “Age Against the Machine,” “Our Wedding Dre,” “What About Gary?,” “First Trap” and “Things Done Changed” for final consideration.

Emmys moved to a sliding scale format for its nominees depending on the number of submissions. The quirky cringe-comedy “Pen15” from Hulu was one of the clear benefactors for its second season. When it debuted two years ago, it was able to pull in a single nom for writing, but this time around is basking in the glow of three nominations for comedy series, writing and casting.

This will indeed serve as an awareness signal for viewers to discover the show on the streaming platform. While its writers and stars, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle fanbase, will only grow over time, the program would be nearly impossible to get around the shows in this crop.

For its first showing in comedy series, Hulu has sent the episodes “Wrestle,” “Vendy Wiccany,” “Three,” “Sleepover,” “Play” and “Opening Night” for voters to mull on.

With the dividing sides of “cancel culture” bringing heated discussions, the inclusion of Netflix’s “Emily in Paris” seemed to serve as a middle finger to anyone coming out with pitchforks for Hollywood insiders.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association received a lot of criticism when it was discovered that members took a trip to set in Paris to interview the cast and crew. As a result, the show only received two noms in total, with the other coming in production design.

Despite none of its stars, including Lily Collins and Ashley Park failing to be recognized, there seems to be a clear pocket of the industry that likes the show despite the reviews but winning either of its nominations would be quite a mountain to ascend.

For its first season bout, the series has gone with “Emily in Paris,” “Masculin Feminin,” “Sexy or Sexist,” “Ringarde,” “Family Affair” and “Cancel Couture” for its episode submissions.

The viewing platform for Emmy nominees opens on Aug. 13, with final-round voting, beginning on Aug. 19 at 9:00 am PT until Aug. 30 at 10:00 pm PT.

Check out the full rankings of the category’s nominees in the chart below.


<img class="size-vertical wp-image-1235037884" src="https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Cobra-Kai.jpg?w=1000&quot; alt=" - Credit: Courtesy of Netflix" width="1000" height="563" srcset="https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Cobra-Kai.jpg 1000w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Cobra-Kai.jpg?resize=150,84 150w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Cobra-Kai.jpg?resize=300,169 300w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Cobra-Kai.jpg?resize=125,70 125w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Cobra-Kai.jpg?resize=681,383 681w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Cobra-Kai.jpg?resize=450,253 450w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Cobra-Kai.jpg?resize=250,140 250w" sizes="(min-width: 87.5rem) 1000px, (min-width: 78.75rem) 681px, (min-width: 48rem) 450px, (max-width: 48rem) 250px" />Courtesy of Netflix


The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known simply as the Emmys, is television's most prestigious artistic award. There are many records held for both wins and nominations in the near eight decades.

For wins: NBC's "Frasier" and ABC's "Modern Family" hold the record for the most awards in best comedy series, both of which won five times consecutively. The classic sitcoms "All in the Family" and "Cheers" have four wins, although not consecutive.

For nominations: The most shows that have been nominated in this category are "Cheers" and "M*A*S*H," with 11 over their runs. The former winning four and the latter once. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is the most nominated show in this category with nine but has not won (as of 2021).

NBC is the network with the most wins in this category, with 26, CBS following with 22. Amazon Prime Video is the first and only streaming service to win this category with "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" (in 2018) and "Fleabag" (in 2019).

2021 Primetime Emmy Awards Predictions

About the Primetime Emmy Awards (Emmys)

The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known as the Emmys, is given out by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). Since 1949, the awards recognize excellence in American primetime television programming. They are divided into three classes - Primetime Emmy Awards, the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards (honors artisan achievements) and the Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards (recognizes significant engineering and technological contributions). The typical eligibility period is between June 1 and May 31 of any given year. The Television Academy comprises over 25,000 members, representing 30 professional peer groups, including performers, directors, producers, art directors and various artisans and executives.

  • The 73rd Emmy Awards are scheduled to air on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8:00 pm est on CBS and on-demand on sister streamer Paramount Plus.

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