Skip To Content

    11 Emmy-Nominated Shows You Have To Watch — No, Seriously, Like What Are You Waiting For, You're Already Late And Need To Watch Them Now

    You're tired of hearing it, but I'm not tired of saying it — if you're not watching Ted Lasso, then what the heck are you doing?!

    Happy Emmys Sunday, everyone! In just a couple of short hours, we will get to see which of our favorite shows of 2021 will win some of the top prizes in the entertainment industry.

    Emmys / ABC

    And with that said, there are so many series to become completely infatuated with — so which ones should you even go for? Well, here at BuzzFeed, we've compiled a list of 11 must-watch projects (in no particular order) for your viewing (let's be real, bingeing) pleasure. Let's begin!

    Netflix

    1. Ted Lasso

    Apple TV+ / Everett Collection

    There's a reason this series has dominated headlines for the better part of the past year, and I have to do my part as a reporter and say you must get Apple TV+ just for this show, if you don't have a subscription already. Racking up a whopping 20 nominations this year, the show about an optimistic — if completely fish-out-of-water — American-football-turned-British soccer coach is anything but what it seems. Sure, it offers a weekly dose of goodness and hope in an otherwise very bleak world amid the pandemic and dozens of other existential horrors, but it doesn't stop there. Spearheaded by Jason Sudeikis and co-creators Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly, the series doesn't shy away from talking about real trauma and what true healing actually entails. 

    Where to watch: Apple TV+

    2. The Queen's Gambit

    Anya sitting on the floor playing chess with several others
    Phil Bray / ©Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

    No, I will never stop talking about this show. Since its premiere on Netflix in late October of last year, this limited series has shattered records and catapulted its superb lead — Anya Taylor-Joy — into bona fide A-lister status. And, arguably, it's set the tone for this year's outstanding limited series contenders. Fast-paced, but never muddled, the seven-episode spectacle packs a punch like no other. With well-rounded characters, piercing dialogue, and an intricate plot, it's no wonder the chess drama has garnered 18 nominations — including Outstanding Lead Actress for Anya and Outstanding Supporting Actor for Thomas Brodie-Sangster — and skyrocketed the demand for playing boards.

    Where to watch: Netflix

    3. WandaVision

    Elizabeth Olsen and Kathryn Hahn in a scene from WandaVision
    ©Disney+/Marvel Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Yes, yes, we can talk about the omnipresence of the MCU another day, but this series truly offers something for everyone. There's the badass (semi-anti) heroine for the geeky superhero lovers; there are the thematic explorations of loss and grief for those seeking a show with a message; and there's the delight that is Kathryn Hahn for just about everyone. But seriously — in terms of world-building, genuine creativity, and just plain ol' pizzazz — WandaVision absolutely merits every nomination, particularly Elizabeth Olsen's for Outstanding Lead Actress. Raw and honest, but cached in pop culture and sitcom references for your enjoyment, there's no other show quite like this one. 

    Where to watch: Disney+

    4. The Boys

    Jasper Savage / ©Amazon / Courtesy Everett Collection

    If superheroes actually existed, what makes us think that they would be good? And, even if they were, what makes us think corporate greed and bigotry wouldn't stand in the way of that? These are the questions The Boys expertly grapples with. As mentioned previously, in a cinematic and television landscape dominated by Marvel, The Boys tries to expose the dark side of human nature (and late-stage capitalism) — one that would potentially be amplified with superhuman capabilities. Violent, whip-smart, and cunning, The Boys is definitely not for those with a weak stomach. But if you're looking for an action-packed show that roots for its underdogs despite the myriad (well-backed) challenges they face, The Boys is the series for you. You can stream it on Amazon Prime — the irony of which showrunner Eric Kripke definitely acknowledges.

    Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

    5. Mare of Easttown

    Michele K. Short/HBO

    Kate Winslet, Jean Smart, and Evan Peters — need I say more? OK, fine, if you need more convincing, the HBO series follows the titular Mare (Kate) as she tries to piece together the circumstances surrounding a young woman's murder in a small Pennsylvania town. As she's doing so, she has to reckon with her own personal trauma and face her past. Oftentimes bleak and definitely a heavy watch, the show is nonetheless a testament to the very human ability to persevere and move forward. And for the true crime aficionados, there are twists and turns galore.

    Where to watch: HBO Max

    6. Hacks

    Anne Marie Fox/HBO Max

    Jean Smart once again — but in a polar opposite role! Here, the legendary actor portrays an aging, yet history-making, comedian who must revive her act lest she's overthrown by dance troupes and millennial stand-ups. Paired with an entitled and ousted young comedy writer Ava (Hannah Einbinder), the two must find a way to begrudgingly get along to mutually save their careers despite their many, many differences. Refreshing and hilarious, you can't go wrong with this one.

    Where to watch: HBO Max

    7. Pose

    The cast of Pose at a candlelit dinner in a scene from Pose
    Eric Liebowitz / ©FX / Courtesy Everett Collection

    What can I say about this incredible series that hasn't already been said? Led both on and off-the-screen by trans women of color, Pose portrays the equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming realities of the queer and trans ballroom scene in 1980s New York City. It has since ended its three-season run on Netflix, but — thankfully — not without giving its shining star Mj Rodriguez (who portrays the fiercely loyal and loving house mother Blanca) her flowers with an overdue Emmy nom (and hopefully win)! And, honestly, if co-stars Angelica Ross, Dominique Jackson, and Indya Moore don't stay booked and busy for decades to come — production studios will be hearing from me! But seriously, if you have not yet had the honor of viewing this immaculate series — in all its costuming, set design, and acting glory — you must do so now. 

    Where to watch: Netflix

    8. Bridgerton

    Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor standing next to each at a ball in a scene from Bridgerton
    Liam Daniel / ©Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

    There's a reason Shonda Rhimes is a multi-Emmy-winning genius. In this modern and lavish take on England's Regency era, we see the outlandish melodrama of Gossip Girl (the OG one, not whatever...the reboot is) meet the high-brow societal expectations of period pieces like Pride and Prejudice. It's juicy, often kinky, and definitely mischievous; the only real way to classify this show is that's it's just pure fun. And bonus, it's got Regé-Jean Page (at least for this first season, until the equally easy-on-the-eyes Jonathan Bailey takes over) — who is bound to be one of the foremost leading men and heartthrobs of our era. 

    Where to watch: Netflix

    9. The Flight Attendant

    Phil Caruso / HBO Max

    Kaley Cuoco is absolutely captivating in this near-frantic (in a good way) limited series. Starring as the titular flight attendant Cassie, who wakes up next to a dead body in a Bangkok hotel room, she must retrace her steps and figure out what the hell happened. What doesn't help is that Cassie is the literal personification of mess, but at least she has a lawyer best friend Annie (a hilariously sarcastic Zosia Mamet) to help her out. What starts off as an unhinged murder mystery quickly evolves into something far deeper — a meditation on addiction, childhood trauma, and the innate drive to be better than how you were treated. 

    Where to watch: HBO Max

    10. I May Destroy You

    Arabella and friends at a costume party
    Natalie Seery/HBO

    Michaela Coel stars as Arabella, an author dealing with writer's block who is sexually assaulted and must reevaluate everything in her life. Honest, poignant, and intimate, the series gives power and agency back to survivors and their stories. The HBO series expertly balances sadness with levity, and sees Michaela shine as an expert multi-hyphenate creator, executive producer, co-director, and actor. 

    Where to watch: HBO Max

    11. Lovecraft Country

    Atticus, Leti, and George walking through a foggy forest
    Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

    Lovecraft Country is a mixed bag of a show in the best way — mixing sci-fi and supernatural thriller with a period drama set in the 1950s South. Serving as a continuation of Matt Ruff's novel of the same name, the series follows Atticus (Jonathan Majors) as he embarks on a magical quest to find his estranged father, along with his childhood friend Leti (a brilliant Jurnee Smollett). (As an aside, I will never recover from Jamie Chung being snubbed for her absolutely stunning performance, but I digress.) Canceled after one season on HBO (I am still fuming, along with the loss of Generation), the series showcases one of the last performances from late icon Michael K. Williams and is a moving must-watch.

    Where to watch: HBO Max

    Did I miss any of your faves? Which shows on this list have you seen? LMK in the comments below!

    TV and Movies

    Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form