Emmys 2021: 5 Wins Everyone Expected (& 5 That Were Total Shocks)

The 2021 Emmy nominations recognized a surprisingly diverse lineup of shows, including genre juggernauts like WandaVision and The Mandalorian, period pieces like The Queen's Gambit and The Crown, and timely character studies, like Hacks and Mare of Easttown.

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When it came time to hand out the coveted statuettes, the Emmy mostly stuck to the script, awarding the usual suspects. Indeed, only a handful of shows walked out with multiple trophies, and The Crown nearly swept the Drama category. However, some winners managed to pull off a few shocking upsets that made every fan and pundit let out a massive gasp.

10 Expected: Gillian Anderson Prevails

Ever since Netflix announced Gillian Anderson would play infamous Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in season 4 of The Crown, fans and pundits expected her to win the Emmy. And win she did, surprising absolutely no one. Last night, Anderson completed a clean sweep of awards thanks to her performance, adding an Emmy to her previous victories at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and Critics' Choice Awards.

In all honesty, no other competitor even came close to pulling an upset. The closest thing to a threat Anderson had was her co-star, Helena Bonham Carter. And while it would've been nice to see Lovecraft Country's Aunjanue Ellis on stage, this was Anderson's night, and everyone knew it.

9 Shock: Kate Winslet Comes Out On Top

Kate Winslet gave a career-best performance in Mare of Easttown. She committed to the role entirely, creating a raw, layered, and chaotic portrayal of guilt and grief. Saying that Mare is one of Winslet's greatest triumphs is no overstatement.

The Leading Actress in a Miniseries or Anthology lineup was arguable the most competitive category. Joining Winslet were presumed favorite Anya Taylor-Joy, Michaela Coel, Elizabeth Olsen, and Cynthia Erivo. There was no wrong choice in this lineup; all actresses delivered powerful performances and would've made worthy winners. Still, everyone expected Taylor-Joy to prevail, so when Sarah Paulson announced Winslet's name instead, it did feel like a shock.

8 Expected: Jean Smart Makes History

Television legend Jean Smart is no stranger to the Emmys. The actress had already won for her guest and supporting roles in Frasier and Samantha Who?, respectively. She also received a plethora of nominations for shows like 24, Watchmen, and The District.

Smart had two acclaimed performances this year in Mare of Easttown and Hacks. Even so, many critics considered Hacks the highlight of her illustrious career. A showcase in every sense of the word, the role of Deborah Vance provides Smart with the chance to juggle multiple emotions humanly and engagingly. There was no one in her category that could even come close. Ever since Hacks premiered, the Emmy has been Smart's to lose.

7 Shock: Ewan McGregor Wins For... Halston?

Ewan McGregor is one of the most underappreciated actors in the business. Despite being well-known and liked, he has seldom received any award recognition for his performances. That all changed last night when he finally earned a significant award, claiming the Emmy for his lead role in Netflix's Halston.

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Not many expected him to prevail, though. The Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series category wasn't particularly competitive, but many expected Hugh Grant to claim the prize for his villainous turn in The Undoing. Alas, McGregor prevailed, giving the subpar Halston some much-needed attention.

6 Expected: Ted Lasso Dominates

Apple TV+ dominated the Comedy categories thanks to its feel-good sitcom, Ted Lasso. The beloved show won three of the four acting awards, including one for star Jason Sudeikis, who completed a clean sweep after winning the Golden Globe, SAG, and Critics' Choice awards for his performance. Co-stars Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein also won Emmys for their supporting performances. The show also walked away with the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Since its debut, Ted Lasso received rave reviews from critics and audiences. It was the overwhelming favorite going into the ceremony, and it lived up to the expectations. In truth, no other competitor stood a chance against it.

5 Shock: Kathryn Hahn Misses Out For WandaVision

WandaVision overperformed on nomination morning with 23 mentions, the third-most out of any program. Among its nominations were notices for its three leading players, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, and Kathryn Hahn. No one expected Olsen or Bettany to prevail, so Hahn was the show's sole opportunity to earn some recognition in a major acting category.

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Alas, the Academy rewarded scene-stealer Julianne Nicholson instead. Nicholson's role in Mare of Easttown was worthy of every award, so it's hard to disagree with the Emmys' choice. And even though Hahn would've been a brilliant winner, Nicholson's performance was too good to ignore.

4 Expected: The Queen's Gambit Check Mates

At last week's Creative Arts Emmys, The Queen's Gambit won a whopping nine trophies, cementing its place as the overwhelming favorite to win Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series. However, many began to doubt its dominance after it lost the Outstanding Writing award to HBO's exceptional I May Destroy You. Anya Taylor-Joy's loss to Kate Winslet also dealt some damage to the show's standing.

Despite these early setbacks, The Queen's Gambit ended up claiming the top trophy. What's impressive about the show's victory is the fact that it kept its momentum for almost a year, proving that Emmy voters will always love a good, old-fashioned period piece.

3 Shock: Olivia Colman Always Wins

With an impressive resume of some of her best movies & TV shows, Olivia Colman is considered by many to be an exceptional actress. She displays a new side to her already multi-faceted persona with each new role, delivering one unforgettable portrayal after another. Still, most pundits and fans expected Emma Corrin to prevail in the Lead Actress in a Drama Series, thanks to her role as the tragic Princess Diana in season four of The Crown. Some also considered fan-favorite actress MJ Rodriguez as a dark horse in the category for her trailblazing work in Pose.

However, Colman ended up winning the Emmy, following the footsteps of Claire Foy, who also won for her last season as Queen Elizabeth II. Not many expected Colman to claim the prize, but hardly anyone complained as both Colman and the show are beloved by Emmy voters.

2 Expected: RuPaul's Drag Race Makes Herstory

For the fourth year in a row, RuPaul's Drag Race won the Emmy for Outstanding Competition Program. Season 13 wasn't particularly beloved by Drag Race fans, but the show is now a favorite of the Television Academy, making its win nearly inevitable.

Even more significant is the fact that RuPaul became the most-awarded person of color in Emmy's history. The previous record-holder was veteran Donald A. Morgan, who won ten Emmys out of nineteen nominations. Six out of RuPaul's record eleven wins are in the Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program category.

1 Shock: Tobias Menzies Gets Crowned

Tobias Menzies has long been deserving of Emmy recognition. His performance in Outlander was integral to the show's early success but went unrecognized by the Emmys (much like the show itself). Many pundits expected him to earn his first nomination last year for season three of The Crown, but the Academy snubbed Menzies was once again.

This year, the actor finally earned a mention for his supporting role as Prince Philip. Still, many viewed the nomination as the win and expected Michael K. Williams to triumph for his role in Lovecraft Country. When Kerry Washington announced Menzies as the winner, audiences gasped, shocked at the overwhelming love the Emmys were bestowing on The Crown.

NEXT: The Top 10 Emmy Ceremonies Of All Time, According To IMDB

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