Emmy Awards 2021: 5 biggest snubs and surprises as British talent triumphs

Michaela Coel won a well-earned trophy – and deserved even more

Clémence Michallon,Elizabeth Aubrey
Monday 20 September 2021 06:50
Gillian Anderson confuses viewers by accepting Emmy in American accent

The 2021 Emmys have just wrapped in up Los Angeles and London, from which some nominees joined the ceremony remotely.

The Crown emerged as the evening’s biggest winner, taking home seven trophies. Ted Lasso and Mare of Easttown also scored major victories, and The Queen’s Gambit took home one of the evening’s top prizes.

The awards show also brought with it its share of snubs and surprises. Some deserving nominees were overlooked by the Television Academy, and some scored wins in categories where they faced strong competition.

British talent did particularly well this year, with major wins for Michaela Coel, Kate Winslet, Olivia Colman, Josh O’Connor, and Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, along with shows such as The Crown and Ted Lasso.

Here are the biggest snubs and surprises of the 2021 Emmys:

Ewan McGregor’s surprise win

McGregor picked up an award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series for his role in Halston in a strong category which also included Paul Bettany for WandaVision, Hugh Grant from The Undoing, Lin-Manuel Miranda from Hamilton, and Leslie Odom Jr, also from Hamilton. Prior to the awards show, fans were tipping Miranda or Odom Jr to take the award, or possibly Paul Bettany. McGregor’s win came as a genuine surprise.

However, it’s arguably overdue for McGregor. This is the first Emmy he’s ever won after being nominated four times since 1997. He was nominated in the same category for his work in Fargo, playing twin brothers Emmit and Ray Stussy. He was also nominated for best narrator for Highlands: Scotland’s Wild Heart and, back in 1997, he received a nod for best guest actor in a drama for his work on ER.

Halston tells the story of fashion icon Roy Halston Frowick – played by McGregor – who built a luxury fashion empire in Seventies and Eighties New York. The brand, “synonymous with sex, status and fame” means everything to Halston and when a hostile tries to take control of his most precious asset – the brand name itself – Halston is forced to fight.

The Independent’s review of Halston said: “Ewan McGregor is hugely enjoyable and compelling as Halston, a man creating himself in his own image, which is good news because he’s in pretty much every scene of the five-episode series. He seems to particularly relish Halston‘s profligate attitude to money. ‘Orchids are part of my process,’ he purrs at one point. ‘You can’t put a budget on inspiration.’” McGregor could well be in the midst of a career resurgence. With this and his upcoming role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in a Star Wars spin-off, he may well be a regular fixture on the Emmy nominations – and wins – once more. (EA)

WandaVision missed out

The Disney+ show has exceeded expectations in so many ways, it would have been lovely to see it win at least one trophy. Paul Bettany and Kathryn Hahn would have been worthy winners in their respective supporting categories; Elizabeth Olsen was up for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or a Movie, and the series itself had a shot at Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series. Ultimately, all these categories had unbelievably strong pools of nominees, so alas, it was not to be. (CM)

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Michaela Coel accepts her Emmy

Michaela Coel should have won more

Olivia Colman’s acceptance speech said what we were all thinking, after Coel picked up the award for Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie at the Emmys. In her acceptance speech, Coleman simply said: “Michaela Coel, f*** yeah!” It was a deserved win for one of the most powerful television shows in recent years which explored themes of consent in the MeToo era. It was also based on a sexual assault Coel herself had experienced.

While her win for Outstanding Writing was incredibly deserved, I May Destroy You was also nominated in other categories this evening: Coel was up for Lead Actress and Outstanding Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, while the show itself was nominated for Outstanding Limited Or Anthology Series. Missing out on these felt like a huge disappointment for a show that was so groundbreaking. Coel delivered a towering performance worthy of a lead actress win, not to mention one for her directorial skills alongside Sam Miller.

The Independent’s five star review of I May Destroy You said: “I May Destroy You has been described as a “sexual assault drama”, which is a vital label for identifying the show’s potentially triggering subject matter, but one that hardly does it justice. No TV show has ever shown the complexities of sexual assault and how it affects survivors, their friends and their communities quite like this difficult, harrowing and hilarious drama.” (EA)

TV-The Underground Railroad

TheUnderground Railroad went home empty handed

Barry Jenkins’s absolutely masterful, lyrical adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s novel of the same name deserved all the awards, and it would have deserved all the nominations too. It went into the evening as a contender for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series and Outstanding Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, and sadly didn’t win either. The Underground Railroad was worthy of so much more! (CM)

A lack of diversity still prevails

All the top acting awards tonight at the Emmys were won by white actors who took away all 12 lead and supporting slots across the comedy, drama and limited series categories. It was a move that showed just how far the Emmys still have to go if they want to truly recognise and celebrate diversity – even with a pool of nominees that included incredible talent such as Michaela Coel and the late Michael K Williams, alongside director Barry Jenkins. Soon after the event, #EmmysSoWhite started to trend on social media. After all the conversations of recent years, to not recognise diversity once again feels unforgivable. (EA)

See the full list of winners at the Emmy Awards here.

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