The 2021 Emmys, the biggest night in television, take place this Sunday night and there are the usual parade of surefire successes and dark horses. 

Schitt’s Creek, the little Canadian show that could, swept the major awards last year; out of the main competitors this time, Apple’s zeitgeist-grabbing Ted Lasso looks likeliest to dominate, with a huge 13 nominations.

Before the big night, we thought we’d take a look at the runners and riders in the major categories, rating who really should win and who probably will win. And yes, if I May Destroy You doesn’t get the plaudits it deserves, we riot.

And if you want to watch the actual Emmys ceremony in Australia, you can catch it with a Foxtel box on Fox Arena at 10am on September 20th. It will also be available on-demand on Binge.

For more on this topic, follow the Film & TV Observer.

Outstanding Comedy Series

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Should win: Ted Lasso 

Will win: Ted Lasso

In this category in 1996, Frasier, Friends, Seinfeld, and The Larry Sanders Show heatedly battled it out (Frasier won); 25 years later and the competition is nowhere near as strong. Ted Lasso has a lot of heart but is flawed – avoid their Christmas episode this season that feels like a Hallmark movie – but no other comedy series can match it’s huge impact. It’s a stirring reckoning with toxic masculinity in all shapes and sizes, from the brusque player-turned-coach Roy Kent to the hapless coach Ted Lasso who keeps his emotions bottled up. That the ludicrous Emily in Paris snuck into the nominees says it all really.

Outstanding Drama Series

Should win: The Mandalorian

Will win: The Crown

A truly remarkable nominees lineup crowd this category. Fancy soap Bridgerton gets in somehow, as does the declining Handmaid’s Tale. The Crown will almost certainly triumph because of the U.S.’s penchant for stuffy British dramas (and the royals) but, in terms of quality and fun, nothing competes with The Mandalorian. It honestly should be given the award just for Baby Yoda himself and for actually getting a late-period Star Wars piece right.

Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series

Should win: I May Destroy You

Will win: Mare of Easttown

The toughest category by a country mile. All nominees are excellent, from the serious drama The Underground Railroad to the pure buzzy fun of Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit. But I May Destroy You is one of the best-written TV shows of the 21st century and that’s not hyperbole: Michaela Coel is a master storyteller, creating a piece of autofiction based around her own sexual assault that is daring, fascinating, intensely-acted, and narratively-bold. Yet there’s a very slim chance that voters will choose her challenging art over Kate Winslet’s triumphant but transparent turn as a Pennsylvania detective in Mare of Easttown.

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

Should win: Conan

Will win: Last Week with John Oliver

If sentiment plays a part, Conan O’Brien walks away with this one. The underrated late night legend aired the finale of his TBS talk show in June to many think pieces celebrating his legacy. There was no one better at mixing acerbic comedy with genuine pathos; in the current humdrum lineup of boring hosts like James Corden and Jimmy Kimmel, he will be sorely missed. But John Oliver has perfected his piercing political comedy and should win yet again.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Should win: Jason Sudeikis

Will win: Jason Sudeikis

Sometimes an actor is born to play a role and as the malleable and pleasant Ted Lasso, Sudeikis really feels to fit the part. He’s added extra emotional depths to his performance in this new season too, capturing effectively the suffocation of experiencing a panic attack in public. And again, his competition is weak, from Anthony Anderson in the long-running Black-ish to an ageing Michael Douglas in the dull Kominsky Method.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Should win: Aidy Bryant

Will win: Jean Smart

SNL alumni Bryant is a genuine joy in Shrill but the show’s limitations let her down often. It’s only through her shining charisma and towering comedic presence that the show is able to work as it does. But no one would begrudge Jean Smart winning for her domineering performance of an ageing comedy diva in Hacks.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series 

Should win: Billy Porter

Will win: Regé-Jean Page

Porter is a star both onscreen and offscreen and in Pose’s final season, he rose to the occasion wonderfully. He’ll be a popular choice but so too would be Page, the breakout star of Bridgerton: the ladies adore him, he hosted SNL off the back of it, and an Emmy capping his sizeable year is probably on its way.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Should win: Olivia Colman

Will win: Olivia Colman

When you play the Queen in anything, you best get your trophy cabinet dusted. Colman is a near-certainty to win this category for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown. She’s good in the role too, capturing the stiff mannerisms and the cheeky but withdrawn spirit of the royal well.