2021 Emmy Predictions for Comedy Series & Performances: Matt Roush’s Picks

Hacks Ted Lasso the Flight Attendant
HBO Max; Apple TV+; HBO Max

The Emmy Awards are by tradition among the hardest to predict, because it’s often impossible to know just when a show or star’s moment in the spotlight has arrived—or when the Emmy voters will turn away from the tried and true to celebrate the new kid on the block.

Ahead of the 2021 Primetime Emmys, Senior Critic Matt Roush takes a crack at reading the tea leaves to pick the presumed winners, while revealing which nominees are the most deserving and lamenting the most obnoxious snubs.

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Plus, wins for 'Ted Lasso', 'WandaVision', Maya Rudolph & more.

Scroll down to see Matt’s picks in the categories of Comedy Series, Lead Comedy Actor and Actress, Supporting Comedy Actor and Actress, and Guest Comedy Actor and Actress.

73rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Sunday, September 19, 8/7c, CBS

The Flight Attendant Kaley Cuoco HBO Max
HBO Max

Outstanding Comedy Series

Black-ish (ABC)

Cobra Kai (Netflix)

Pen15 (Hulu)

Emily in Paris (Netflix)

Hacks (HBO Max)

Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)

The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)

The Kominsky Method (Netflix)

Emily in Paris Netflix Ashley Park Lily Collins
CAROLE BETHUEL/NETFLIX

The Frontrunners

Lots of choices — too many, if they could make room for the insipid Emily in Paris — but there’s only one true contender: Apple’s feel-good breakout Ted Lasso, a comedy about good sports that only the most Scrooge-like anti-sentimentalist could resist. HBO Max enters the field with two very different buzzworthy shows: the thriller-esque Flight Attendant and Hacks, which has the bonus of being a comedy about comedians. Still, cheering for Ted is your best bet.

Ted Lasso Season 1
Apple TV+

Most Likely to Win

Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso Season 1 Nick Mohammed Jason sudeikis
Apple TV+

Should Win

Ted Lasso

Mom Allison Janney
Robert Voets/CBS

Should Have Been Nominated

The final season of CBS’ underappreciated Mom

Shameless Season 11 William H Macy
Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso

Anthony Anderson, Black-ish

Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method

William H. Macy, Shameless

Kenan Thompson, Kenan

Ted Lasso Jason Sudeikis Season 1
Apple TV+

The Frontrunners

We hate to sound like a broken record, but Ted Lasso is shaping up to be this year’s Schitt’s Creek (except for its first, instead of last, season), showing signs of a near-sweep in the top comedy categories. That includes Jason Sudeikis’ charming title performance as the folksy Kansas coach swimming upstream in hostile British waters as he learns the game of soccer.

Ted Lasso Season 1 Jason Sudeikis
Apple TV+

Most Likely to Win

Jason Sudeikis

Ted Lasso Jason Sudeikis Season 1
Apple TV+

Should Win

Jason Sudeikis

Resident Alien Season 1 Alan Tudyk
James Dittinger/SYFY

Should Have Been Nominated

Alan Tudyk, Resident Alien

 

Shrill Season 3 Aidy Bryant Hulu
Hulu

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Aidy Bryant, Shrill

Jean Smart, Hacks

Allison Janney, Mom

Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant

Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish

The Flight Attendant Season 1 Kaley Cuoco
HBO Max

The Frontrunners

Ted Lasso doesn’t qualify here, so the race is between a veteran three-time Emmy winner and an overdue first-time nominee. Jean Smart has heretofore won for guest and supporting roles, but dominates the field for her star turn in Hacks as a stand-up comedy legend fighting to hold on to her career. Kaley Cuoco, who deserved recognition for being such a great foil as Penny on The Big Bang Theory, came into her own in the flighty title role of The Flight Attendant, putting a madcap twist on a Hitchcockian heroine as a drunken damsel in constant distress. This is a tough call, but Smart is the knockout here, and the (sorry) smart choice.

Hacks Season 1 Jean Smart
HBO Max

Most Likely to Win

Jean Smart

Jean Smart Season 1 Hacks
HBO Max

Should Win

Jean Smart

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Season 2 Jane Levy
Sergei Bachlakov/NBC/Lionsgate

Should Have Been Nominated

Jane Levy, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

Hacks Season 1 Carl-Clemons Hopkins
HBO Max

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Bowen Yang, Saturday Night Live

Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live

Brett Goldstein, Ted Lasso

Brendan Hunt, Ted Lasso

Nick Mohammed, Ted Lasso

Jeremy Swift, Ted Lasso

Paul Reiser, The Kominsky Method

Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Hacks

Saturday Night Live Bowen Yang Season 46
Rosalind O'Connor/NBC

The Frontrunners

Will the four (!) nominees from Ted Lasso cancel each other out? And will that open the door for Saturday Night Live’s long-overdue and longest-tenured performer, Kenan Thompson, or possibly SNL ensemble player Bowen Yang for his breakout season? These are good and hard-to-answer questions. If Ted sweeps, the most likely (and deserving) winner is Brett Goldstein as the lovably foul-mouthed sports star Roy Kent. But few will complain if the hard-working Kenan (also nominated for his self-titled sitcom) finally takes the stage.

Saturday Night Live Kenan Thompson Season 46
Kyle Dubiel/NBC

Most Likely to Win

Kenan Thompson

Brett Goldstein Ted Lasso Season 1
Apple TV+

Should Win

Brett Goldstein

Superstore Season 6 Nico Santos
Tyler Golden/NBC

Should Have Been Nominated

Nico Santos, Superstore

Hacks Season 1 Hannah Einbinder
HBO Max

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

Cecily Strong, Saturday Night Live

Aidy Bryant, Saturday Night Live

Rosie Perez, The Flight Attendant

Hannah Einbinder, Hacks

Hannah Waddingham, Ted Lasso

Juno Temple, Ted Lasso

 

Saturday Night Live Season 46 Cecily Strong
Will Heath/NBC

The Frontrunners

Another showdown between the Ted Lasso and Saturday Night Live ensembles, with the momentum seeming to favor the glamorous Hannah Waddingham as Ted’s biscuit-craving team owner. Hannah Einbinder could be a sleeper pick as Hacks’ millennial ingrate getting a master class in comedy, and SNL’s Cecily Strong had an especially strong (sorry) year. But the Ted train is likely to drive Waddingham into the winners’ circle.

Ted Lasso Season 1 Hannah Waddingham
Apple TV+

Most Likely to Win

Hannah Waddingham

Ted Lasso Season 1 Juno Temple Brett Goldstein
Apple TV+

Should Win

Hannah Waddingham (or Ted’s adorable Juno Temple)

The Conners Season 3 Lecy Goranson
ABC/Andrew Eccles

Should Have Been Nominated

Lecy Goranson, The Conners