Emmys 2021: 'WandaVision' and 'Hamilton' set records and other snubs and surprises from this year's nominees

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Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany as Wanda Maximoff and Vision in 'WandaVision' (Photo: Disney+)

Black Panther shattered Marvel Studios’s glass ceiling at the Oscars in 2019 when it became the first comic book blockbuster to pick up a Best Picture nomination. Time (Stone) jump to two years later, and WandaVision has similarly broken through at the Emmys to the delighted surprise of fans across the mighty Marvel multiverse.

Marvel’s first big streaming series collected a whopping 23 nominations, including lead actor nods for its stars, Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, as well as Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series — and yes, the show picked up a Supporting Actress nomination for scene-stealing villain Kathryn Hahn as well as a nod for her earworm theme song, "Agatha All Along." The nine-episode series finished just behind fellow Disney+ nominee The Mandalorian, which received 24 nods for its second season. (The Mandalorian tied with Netflix’s perennial nominee, The Crown, for most nominations overall.)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 29: Mj Rodriguez attends the FX's
Mj Rodriguez attends FX's Pose Season 3 New York Premiere in April. (Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

But Olsen and Bettany won't be the only heroes making waves at this year's Emmys. Mj Rodriguez — the breakout star of FX's beloved series, Pose, which recently concluded its third and final season — became the first transgender performer in TV history to be nominated for an acting statue. Rodriguez was nominated alongside Uzo Aduba, Jurnee Smollett, Olivia Colman, Emma Corin and Elisabeth Moss in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category.

In a statement provided to Yahoo Entertainment, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis described her nomination as a "breakthrough for transgender women in Hollywood, and a long-overdue recognition for her groundbreaking performance over the past three seasons of Pose." (The series received nine nods overall, including a third nomination for Billy Porter and its second nomination for Outstanding Drama Series.)

Here is Yahoo Entertainment's round-up of the biggest surprises and snubs from the 2021 Emmy nominations.

SURPRISE: Superhero TV shows off some serious muscle

Olsen as Wanda Maximoff aka the Scarlet Witch in
Olsen as Wanda Maximoff aka the Scarlet Witch in WandaVision. (Photo: Disney+)

Wanda and Vision often seemed like afterthoughts among the Avengers, but once they went solo, they soared to great heights. During its run on Disney+, WandaVision was enthusiastically praised for the way it incorporated serious themes of grief and loss into a sitcom-laced superhero series — and all that praise translated into a super-showing at the Emmys. (It's worth noting that the show's nomination in the "Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series" means a second season is unlikely — something that Olsen herself has repeatedly said.) And WandaVision won't be the only "tights and flights" series represented at this year's ceremony. Season 2 of Amazon's The Boys earned a surprise spot among the Outstanding Drama Series nominees, one of five nods the R-rated comic-book–inspired series picked up overall.

SNUB: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier fell to Earth

Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) learn how to be a dynamic duo in the new Disney+ series 'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier' (Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios)
Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) learn how to be a dynamic duo in the new Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. (Photo: Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios)

WandaVision may have had Emmy voters glued to Disney+, but two other Avengers didn't leave the same impression. Marvel's other big streaming series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, failed to land any major nominations, although Don "War Machine" Cheadle received an Outstanding Guest Actor nod for his two-minute cameo in the first episode, something that left even Cheadle puzzled.

(The studio's third Disney+ series, Loki, premiered after the Emmy eligibility period ended.)

SURPRISE: Lin-Manuel Miranda didn't throw away his shot

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 09:  Lin-Manuel Miranda performs his final performance as
Lin-Manuel Miranda's final performance in the Broadway version of Hamiltion in 2016. (Photo: Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)

Everyone loves Hamilton... but not everyone loves that the recorded version of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway smash picked up 12 Emmy nominations, including a surprise Outstanding Actor nod for the creator himself. Under Emmy rules, Hamilton — which premiered on Disney+ last summer — was eligible for both the Variety Programming category and Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, and the Tony-winning cast promptly received a slew of nominations that might otherwise have gone to performers from underrepresented shows like The Underground Railroad and Small Axe. As you might imagine, eyebrows were raised on Twitter.

SNUB: Regé-Jean Page leaves his Bridgerton castmates in the dust

Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor in 'Bridgerton' (Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix)
Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton. (Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix)

Netflix's blockbuster period romance Bridgerton boasts an enormous ensemble cast, but Emmy voters only have eyes for Regé-Jean Page. The show's resident heartthrob — who made headlines when he announced he wouldn't be returning for Season 2 — scored the show's lone acting nomination. (Although Dame Julie Andrews's witty narration was recognized with an Outstanding Voice-Over Performance.) With Page out of the picture next year, perhaps voters will spread the Bridgerton love around.

SURPRISE: Lovecraft Country gets a big parting gift

PASADENA, CA - MAY 18: Jurnee Smollett, Jonathan Majors and Misha Green attend the HBO Max FYC Drive-In for
Lovecraft Country stars Jurnee Smollett and Jonathan Majors and creator Misha Green at a California FYC event in May. (Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO)

Only two weeks after HBO announced that Misha Green's acclaimed horror series, Lovecraft Country, wouldn't be getting a second season, Emmy voters gave the network a reason to reconsider that decision. The show picked up 18 nominations, including nods for its in-demand stars, Jurnee Smollett and Jonathan Majors, who are the first two Black leads in Emmy history to be nominated from the same series. Along with Hamilton, Lovecraft Country was a big win for diversity, breaking records for Emmy recognition of actors of color.

SNUB: The comedy categories needed more representation

BLACK-ISH - ABC and ABC Signature hosted a drive-in FYC event at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena for Television Academy members, families and fans of
Black-ish stars Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson at an FYC event in June.(ABC via Getty Images)

Unfortunately, the Comedy nominees proved a little more monochrome. Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross picked up her fifth nod in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series — the only Black performer among the nominees. Among the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series nominees, there were only two actors of color: Ross's co-star, Anthony Anderson, scored his seventh nomination, while Kenan Thompson earned his first for Kenan. Left out of the running were such funny and diverse performances as Jana Schmieding in Rutherford Falls, Charlotte Nicdao in Mythic Quest and the cast of We Are Lady Parts. Luckily, the supporting comedy categories recognized performers like breakout SNL star Bowen Yang and Ted Lasso's Nick Mohammed, which helped raise the overall diversity of this year's crop of acting nominees.

SURPRISE: Voters booked a flight to visit Emily in Paris

Lily Collins stars in 'Emily in Paris' (Photo: Carole Bethuel/Netflix)
Lily Collins stars in Emily in Paris. (Photo: Carole Bethuel/Netflix)

The show that Twitter loves to hate got some Emmy love: Netflix's frothy fish out of water comedy scored only two nominations, but one of them happened to be Outstanding Comedy Series. That nod follows the Golden Globes controversy earlier this year when the show was nominated for Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy even after reports emerged that the streaming service flew members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to Paris for a lavish junket.

SNUB: Steve McQueen's acclaimed anthology, Small Axe, got axed

John Boyega plays police officer Leroy Logan in Steve McQueen's 'Small Axe: Red White and Blue' (Photo: Will Robson-Scott/Amazon Prime Video)
John Boyega plays police officer Leroy Logan in Steve McQueen's Small Axe: Red White and Blue. (Photo: Will Robson-Scott/Amazon Prime Video)

Last year, Amazon raised eyebrows when it announced that Steve McQueen's anthology series, Small Axe — which constitutes six feature-length films — would bypass Oscar eligibility in favor of Emmy recognition. Unfortunately, that strategy appeared to backfire as the acclaimed series, which featured such high-profile actors as Letitia Wright and John Boyega, picked up a single nomination for Outstanding Cinematography. (Boyega won a Golden Globe for his performance in January.)

SURPRISE: Cobra Kai sweeps the leg

William Zabka and Ralph Macchio in 'Cobra Kai' (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)
William Zabka and Ralph Macchio in Cobra Kai. (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)

No cheap shots here: Netflix's buzzy Karate Kid sequel, Cobra Kai, earned its first Original Comedy Series nomination with a third season that was big on fan favorite callbacks and crowd-pleasing plot twists. All other '80s hits planning a latter-day reboot clearly need to study at this show's dojo.

SNUB: Nicole Kidman's latest Emmy hopes are undone by The Undoing

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 15: (L-R) Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant of 'The Undoing' appear onstage during the HBO segment of the 2020 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 15, 2020 in Pasadena, California. 697450 (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for WarnerMedia)
The Undoing stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant appear at the 2020 TCA Press Tour in Pasadena, California (Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for WarnerMedia)

Since two of Nicole Kidman's previous HBO originals — Big Little Lies and Hemingway & Gellhorn — have brought her Emmy recognition, many expected The Undoing to add a third nomination to her list of accolades. But those hopes were undone when the divisive series picked up only two nods, one of which was for her co-star, Hugh Grant, who has been giving some of the best interviews of his career while on the campaign trail.

SURPRISE: Conan O'Brien and Courteney Cox both have friends in voting places

US television host Conan O'Brien arrives for the 10th Anniversary CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) Gala at the Wiltern theatre in Los Angeles on January 15, 2020. - CORE (formerly known as J/P HRO) is marking the 10th anniversary of both the devastating 2010 Haitian earthquake and the subsequent founding of this organization by Sean Penn. (Photo by Jean-Baptiste LACROIX / AFP) (Photo by JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX/AFP via Getty Images)
Conan O'Brien pictured in Jan. 2020 (Photo: JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX/AFP via Getty Images)

Contrary to the title of his hit podcast, Conan O'Brien doesn't need any more friends at the Emmys. The outgoing late night host picked up an Outstanding Variety Talk Series nod for the final season of his TBS series, Conan — his first recognition in the category since 2011 after the show's first year. And speaking of friends, Courteney Cox finally broke her own Friends curse. The actress was the only cast member who never received a nomination during the run of the NBC series, but she's now in the Emmy club thanks to HBO Max's Friends: The Reunion. Cox is among the executive producers of the hit special, which is nominated for Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded). Could we be any more excited for her?

The 2021 Emmy Awards premieres Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. on CBS.

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