“The Crown,” Netflix’s lavish chronicle of the British royal family, and the best drama winner at the 2021 Emmys, was also nominated in the category this year — though some critics had a hard time warming up to the show’s fifth season, which featured a new cast.
The moment of triumph for HBO is coming at a time of transition for the network, which since last year has been run by a debt-ridden parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery. The network is now part of a streaming service that removed its call letters (bye HBO Max, hello Max). And, for the first time, HBO is in the process of licensing revered older series — “Insecure,” and soon “Six Feet Under,” “Band of Brothers” and “True Blood” — to its archrival, Netflix, in an attempt by Warner Bros. Discovery to drum up cash.
HBO had the three most nominated shows: “Succession” (27), “The Last of Us” (24) and “The White Lotus” (23). The race for best actor in a drama is shaping up as yet another “Succession” Roy family competition, pitting the one-time winner Jeremy Strong against the two-time nominee Kieran Culkin and the four-time nominee (and one-time winner, for a 2000 mini-series) Brian Cox. And HBO completely swept the best supporting actor in a drama category: eight out of eight, all split between performers from “Succession” and “The White Lotus.”
Of course, the last time a single network earned four nominations in the best drama category, 31 years ago, it came home empty-handed. It was in 1992, when NBC landed nominations for “I’ll Fly Away,” “L.A. Law, “Law & Order” and “Quantum Leap.” All four series lost to that year’s winner, “Northern Exposure,” from CBS.
This year’s best actor in a comedy category will pit Jason Sudeikis, who has won two years in a row for playing the title role in “Ted Lasso,” against Jeremy Allen White, who plays an ambitious and anxious chef in “The Bear.” The other nominees in the category are Bill Hader for “Barry,” Jason Segel for “Shrinking” and Martin Short for “Only Murders in the Building.”
Award prognosticators believe that Quinta Brunson could be on a glide path to winning for “Abbott Elementary.” Brunson took writing honors at the Emmys last year for her good-natured ABC workplace comedy, and would be the first Black woman to win best actress in a comedy since Isabel Sanford won in 1981 for “The Jeffersons.” She will face Christina Applegate from “Dead to Me,” Rachel Brosnahan for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Natasha Lyonne for “Poker Face” and Jenna Ortega for “Wednesday.”