11 TV Shows to Watch Before the Emmys – WWD

The 2021 Emmy Awards are celebrating the year’s biggest TV shows and limited series that made a huge impact on viewers.

The Emmys, which takes place on Sunday, is honoring a varied group of projects this year with themes spanning various social, cultural and racial issues and genres ranging from horror to comic books.

This year’s nominations list has several historic and noteworthy inclusions, such as “Pose” star Mj Rodriguez, who is the first transgender actress to be nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Marvel Studios is also celebrating a milestone with its first TV project, “WandaVision,” which received 23 nominations.

Here, WWD breaks down the 11 must-see TV shows and limited series to watch before Sunday’s Emmy Awards. Read on for more.

“Hacks”
Stream on HBO Max

Jean Smart in “Hacks.”
Courtesy of HBO Max

HBO Max’s hit comedy “Hacks” stars Jean Smart as a legendary comic in danger of losing her Las Vegas residency, who through her manager is connected with a 25-year-old comedy writer (played by Hannah Einbinder) who is desperate for a job. The show released its first season in May and has been renewed for its second.

“Hacks” is nominated for 15 Emmys, including Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

“WandaVision”
Stream on Disney+

2021 Emmys: 11 TV Shows to Watch Before the Emmys

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany star in “WandaVision.”
Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios kicked off its TV projects in January with “WandaVision,” which focuses on the franchise’s characters Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen, and Vision, played by Paul Bettany. The limited series focuses on the characters following the events of the 2019 film “Avengers: Endgame” as they settle into a new life in a suburb. “WandaVision” also pays homage to different decades and TV icons.

“WandaVision” is nominated for 23 Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series.

“Lovecraft Country”
Stream on HBO Max

2021 Emmys: 11 TV Shows to Watch Before the Emmys

A still from “Lovecraft Country.”
Courtesy of HBO Max

Even though HBO canceled the show, “Lovecraft Country” developed a large fanbase when it released last year. The show is based on the 2016 Matt Ruff novel of the same name, which is a horror-themed take on Jim Crow America. “Lovecraft Country” also became a sartorial hit among viewers with its vintage 1950s costumes, especially on actress Jurnee Smollett.

“Lovecraft Country” is nominated for 18 Emmys, including Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Late actor Michael K. Williams is nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

“Genius: Aretha”
Stream on Hulu

2021 Emmys: 11 TV Shows to Watch Before the Emmys

Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin in “Genius: Aretha.”
Courtesy of National Geographic

National Geographic released its latest edition of its “Genius” anthology in March focusing on the life and career of Aretha Franklin, who was played by Oscar-nominated actress Cynthia Erivo. The eight-part limited series follows Franklin through the pivotal moments of her career, as well as her activism in the Civil Rights Movement and her personal struggles.

“Genius: Aretha” is nominated for three Emmys, including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series.

“Ted Lasso”
Stream on Apple TV+

2021 Emmys: 11 TV Shows to Watch Before the Emmys

A still from “Ted Lasso.”
Courtesy of Apple TV+

Sports comedy “Ted Lasso” became a surprise hit during the 2020 awards season and has continued its popularity with its recently released second season. The show stars Jason Sudeikis as the titular character, a football coach who moves to England to manage a soccer team.

“Ted Lasso” is nominated for 20 Emmys, including Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, and four nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

“I May Destroy You”
Stream on HBO Max

2021 Emmys: 11 TV Shows to Watch Before the Emmys

Michaela Coel in “I May Destroy You.”
Courtesy of HBO Max

After being snubbed at this year’s Golden Globes, “I May Destroy You” has received recognition by other awards shows and the upcoming Emmys. The limited series follows the character of Arabella, played by show creator Michaela Coel, who struggles with trauma after being sexually assaulted.

“I May Destroy You” is nominated for nine Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series.

“Pose”
Stream on Netflix or FX

2021 Emmys: 11 TV Shows to Watch Before the Emmys

Mj Rodriguez in “Pose.”
Courtesy of FX

FX drama “Pose” released its third and final season in May, continuing to follow the beloved characters played by Billy Porter, Mj Rodriguez and Indya Moore as they grapple with social issues and the AIDS epidemic during the ‘90s New York City ballroom scene.

“Pose” is nominated for nine Emmys, including Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and the history-making nomination for Rodriguez, who is the first transgender woman to be nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

“Perry Mason”
Stream on HBO Max

2021 Emmys: 11 TV Shows to Watch Before the Emmys

Matthew Rhys in “Perry Mason.”
Courtesy of HBO Max

Based on the novels and short stories by Erle Stanley Gardner, the HBO Max show follows the titular defense lawyer in Los Angeles in 1932 as he gets his start as a private investigator. The show, which is renewed for a second season, stars Matthew Rhys as Perry Mason and features John Lithgow, Tatiana Maslany and Chris Chalk.

“Perry Mason” is nominated for four Emmys, including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

“Bo Burnham: Inside”
Stream on Netflix

2021 Emmys: 11 TV Shows to Watch Before the Emmys

Bo Burnham in “Bo Burnham: Inside.”
Courtesy of Netflix

Comedian Bo Burnham’s musical comedy special became an instant hit this summer, inspiring many viral TikToks and memes. Burnham wrote, directed, starred and filmed the special himself at his home during the pandemic.

“Bo Burnham: Inside” is nominated for six Emmys, including Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special, Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics and Outstanding Variety Special.

“A Black Lady Sketch Show”
Stream on HBO Max

2021 Emmys: 11 TV Shows to Watch Before the Emmys

A still from “A Black Lady Sketch Show.”
Ali Paige Goldstein/HBO Max

The hit comedy show created by Robin Thede returned for its second season in April, bringing together other Black female actresses and comedians like Ashley Nicole Black, Gabrielle Dennis, Laci Mosley and Skye Townsend.

“A Black Lady Sketch Show” is nominated for five Emmys, including Outstanding Variety Sketch Series and two nominations for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.

“Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy”
Stream on HBO Max

2021 Emmys: 11 TV Shows to Watch Before the Emmys

“Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.”
Courtesy of CNN

The CNN docuseries follows Oscar-nominated actor Stanley Tucci as he travels through Italy exploring regional cuisines and the country’s rich history and culture.

“Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy” is nominated for two Emmys, including Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series.

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11 TV Shows to Watch Before the Emmys – WWD