Emmy Predictions: Best Comedy Series – In the Hands of Netflix, ‘Cobra Kai’ Could Kick-In Emmys Door

Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Emmys ceremonies from film awards editor Clayton Davis. Following history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Emmy predictions are updated regularly with the current year's list of contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. The eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and is subject to change.

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UPDATED: May 30, 2021

AWARDS PREDICTION COMMENTARY: It’s not too often that a show starts to capture the zeitgeist three seasons into its run, but that seems to be where we are with Netflix’s spin-off from the classic film “The Karate Kid.” After Netflix acquired the rights from YouTube Red, it’s been discovered by a legion of fans, both old and new. With Ralph Macchio and William Zabka flirting with noms in lead actor comedy, the show could be one of those Emmy nomination morning surprise inclusions (i.e., “Flight of the Conchords” in 2009).

Sharp, darkly comic and boasting an exhilarating ensemble headlined by the indelible Kaley Cuoco, HBO Max’s take on the novel by Chris Bohjalian was wholly satisfying. As WarnerMedia navigates an upcoming change of taking on the streamers; they have an opportunity to make an impression by showing they can do battle with their competitors with a healthy nomination tally.

Once in a while, a TV show drops into the mix and builds an army of fans that will destroy and remove any obstacles that could get in their way. Peacock’s “Girls5eva” is that show this year with its four leading ladies at the helm, catchy tunes and hilarious one-line-zingers. As one of the new kids on the block, can NBC’s streaming arm find a welcoming batch of voters for the Emmys? Stranger things have happened.

The late entries into a race are always a gamble in any awards space but not if you have the signature prowess of Emmy winner Jean Smart at the helm. The dark comedy that follows Deborah Vance, a Las Vegas comedian, is scrumptious with its witty script and luscious performances. This could be the dark horse contender that could gain serious momentum and spoil a party that seems pre-ordained for other comedies.

For 11 seasons, Showtime’s “Shameless” has had all the traits of an Emmy darling but whether it was its initial competing in drama series, before getting switched to comedy, there’s never been consistency on its awards aspirations. With William H. Macy a possible challenger for lead actor comedy and in the vein of “Schitt’s Creek,” the academy may want to give it a long overdue comedy series nod that it’s never received.

The cringe comedy series “Pen15,” co-created by its two leading ladies Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle made its first showing at the Emmys in 2019 with a comedy writing nomination. As many shows are not competing this year, leaving multiple vacancies, a show that has the backing of the critics could find wiggle room into the lineup.

From 50,000 feet, the Apple TV Plus sports series seems like the comedic equivalent to 2003’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” at the Oscars. It’s not a question about if, but rather how many awards will “Ted Lasso” win, but as we know, it’s never that simple with the Emmys. With that said, if there’s an early “lock” in any category before nomination voting opens, it would be hard not to say the Jason Sudeikis-hoody-award-wearing series would be it.

The eligibility period ends on May 31 before nomination-round voting begins on June 17, concluding on June 28. The Primetime Emmy nominations will be announced on July 13, 2021.

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Season 1
Jean Smart
Credit: HBO Max
Courtesy of HBO Max


  1. "Ted Lasso" (Apple TV Plus)
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    Season one (August 14, 2020 release date)

    CREATORS: Bill Lawrence, Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt, Joe Kelly
    SYNOPSIS: Follows US American Football coach Ted Lasso heading to the UK to manage a struggling London football team in the top flight of English football.
    STARRING: Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, Jeremy Swift, Phil Dunster, Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Nick Mohammed, Juno Temple

  2. "The Flight Attendant" (HBO Max)
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    Season one (Nov. 26, 2020 release date)

    CREATOR: Steve Yockey
    SYNOPSIS: A reckless flight attendant with an alcoholism problem wakes up in the wrong hotel, in the wrong bed, with a dead man - and no idea what happened. Unable to piece the night together, she begins to wonder if she could be the killer.
    STARRING: Kaley Cuoco, Michiel Huisman, Zosia Mamet, T. R. Knight, Michelle Gomez, Colin Woodell, Merle Dandridge, Griffin Matthews, Nolan Gerard Funk, Rosie Perez

  3. "Hacks" (HBO Max)
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    Season one (May 13, 2021)

    CREATOR: Paul W. Downs, Lucia Aniello, Jen Statsky
    SYNOPSIS: Explores a dark mentorship that forms between Deborah Vance, a legendary Las Vegas comedian, and an entitled, outcast 25-year-old.
    STARRING: Jean Smart, Hannah Einbinder, Carl Clemons-Hopkins

  4. "Black-ish" (ABC)
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    Season seven (Oct. 21, 2020)

    CREATOR: Kenya Barris
    SYNOPSIS: A family man struggles to gain a sense of cultural identity while raising his kids in a predominantly white, upper-middle-class neighborhood.
    STARRING: Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown, Marsai Martin, Laurence Fishburne, Jeff Meacham, Jenifer Lewis, Peter Mackenzie, Deon Cole, Katlyn Nichol

  5. "Pen15" (Hulu)
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    Season two (Sept 18, 2020)

    CREATORS: Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Sam Zvibleman
    SYNOPSIS: The comedic story of middle school seen through the eyes of two 7th grade girls dealing with the awkwardness of being a teenager.
    STARRING: Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Mutsuko Erskine, Richard Karn, Taylor Nichols, Melora Walters, Taj Cross, Dallas Liu

  6. "Shameless" (Showtime)
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    Season 11 (Dec. 6, 2020)

    CREATORS: Paul Abbott, John Wells
    SYNOPSIS: A scrappy, feisty, fiercely loyal Chicago family makes no apologies.
    STARRING: William H. Macy, Jeremy Allen White, Ethan Cutkosky, Shanola Hampton, Steve Howey, Emma Kenney, Cameron Monaghan, Noel Fisher, Christian Isaiah, Kate Miner

  7. "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist" (NBC)
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    Season two (Jan 5, 2021)

    CREATORS: Austin Winsberg
    SYNOPSIS: A young woman discovers she has the ability to hear the innermost thoughts of people around her as songs and musical numbers.
    STARRING: Jane Levy, Skylar Astin, Alex Newell, John Clarence Stewart, Peter Gallagher, Mary Steenburgen, Lauren Graham, Andrew Leeds, Alice Lee, Michael Thomas Grant, Kapil Talwalkar

  8. "Girls5Eva" (Peacock)
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    Season one (May 6, 2021)

    CREATORS: Meredith Scardino
    SYNOPSIS: A one-hit-wonder band from the '90s gets a second shot at fame when they're sampled by a young star.
    STARRING: Sara Bareilles, Busy Philipps, Paula Pell, Renée Elise Goldsberry

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  1. "Cobra Kai" (Netflix)
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    Season three (Jan. 1, 2021)

    CREATOR: Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
    SYNOPSIS: Decades after their 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament bout, a middle-aged Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence find themselves martial-arts rivals again.
    STARRING: Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Courtney Henggeler, Xolo Maridueña, Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser, Jacob Bertrand, Gianni DeCenzo, Martin Kove, Vanessa Rubio, Peyton List

  2. "The Kominsky Method" (Netflix)
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    Season three (May 28, 2021)

    CREATOR: Chuck Lorre
    SYNOPSIS: An aging actor, who long ago enjoyed a brush with fame, makes his living as an acting coach.
    STARRING: Michael Douglas, Lisa Edelstein, Jane Seymour, Kathleen Turner

  3. "Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet" (Apple TV Plus)
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    Season two (May 7, 2021)

    CREATOR: Megan Ganz, Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day
    SYNOPSIS: The owner of a successful video game design company and his troubled staff struggle to keep their hit game 'Mythic Quest' on top.
    STARRING: Rob McElhenney, Ashly Burch, Jessie Ennis, Imani Hakim, David Hornsby, Charlotte Nicdao, Danny Pudi, F. Murray Abraham

  4. "Superstore" (NBC)
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    Season six (Oct 29, 2020)

    CREATORS: Justin Spitzer
    SYNOPSIS: A look at the lives of employees at a big box store.
    STARRING: America Ferrera, Ben Feldman, Lauren Ash, Colton Dunn, Nico Santos, Nichole Sakura, Mark McKinney, Kaliko Kauahi

  5. "Dickinson" (Apple TV Plus)
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    Season two (Jan. 8, 2021)

    CREATOR: Alena Smith
    SYNOPSIS: An inside look at the world of writer Emily Dickinson.
    STARRING: Hailee Steinfeld, Toby Huss, Adrian Blake Enscoe, Anna Baryshnikov, Ella Hunt, Jane Krakowski

  6. "Rutherford Falls" (Peacock)
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    Season one (April 22, 2021)

    CREATOR: Ed Helms, Sierra Teller Ornelas, Michael Schur
    SYNOPSIS: A small town in the Northeast is turned upside down when local legend and town namesake, Nathan Rutherford (Ed Helms) fights the moving of a historical statue.
    STARRING: Ed Helms, Michael Greyeyes, Jana Schmieding, Jesse Leigh, Dustin Milligan

  7. "Young Rock" (NBC)
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    Season one (Feb. 16, 2021)

    CREATOR: Dwayne Johnson
    SYNOPSIS: A look at the formative years of superstar Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson as he grows up through life.
    STARRING: Dwayne Johnson, Joseph Lee Anderson, Stacey Leilua, Ana Tuisila, Adrian Groulx, Bradley Constant, Uli Latukefu

  8. "Made for Love" (HBO Max)
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    Season one (Apr. 1, 2021)

    CREATORS: Alissa Nutting & Dean Bakopoulos and Patrick Somerville and Christina Lee
    SYNOPSIS: A young woman, on the run after 10 years in a suffocating marriage to a tech billionaire, suddenly realizes that her husband has implanted a revolutionary monitoring device in her brain that allows him to track her every move.
    STARRING: Cristin Milioti, Billy Magnussen, Dan Bakkedahl, Noma Dumezweni, Ray Romano, Augusto Aguilera

  9. "Mr. Mayor" (NBC)
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    Season one (Jan. 7, 2021)

    CREATORS: Robert Carlock, Tina Fey
    SYNOPSIS: A wealthy businessman becomes the mayor of Los Angeles.
    STARRING: Ted Danson, Holly Hunter, Vella Lovell, Mike Cabellon, Kyla Kenedy, Bobby Moynihan

  10. "Younger" (Paramount Plus)
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    Season seven (Apr. 15, 2021)

    CREATORS: Darren Star
    SYNOPSIS: After being mistaken for younger than she really is, a single mother decides to take the chance to reboot her career and her love life as a 26-year old.
    STARRING: Sutton Foster, Debi Mazar, Miriam Shor, Nico Tortorella, Hilary Duff, Peter Hermann, Molly Bernard, Charles Michael Davis

  11. "Master of None" (Netflix)
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    Season three (May 23, 2021)

    CREATORS: Aziz Ansari, Alan Yang
    SYNOPSIS: The personal and professional life of Dev, a 30-year-old actor in New York.
    STARRING: Lena Waithe, Naomi Ackie

  12. "Breeders" (FX)
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    Season two (March 22, 2021)

    CREATOR: Martin Freeman, Chris Addison, Simon Blackwell
    SYNOPSIS: A comedic look at the trials and tribulations of parenthood.
    STARRING: Martin Freeman, Daisy Haggard

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    SAVED BY THE BELL — “House Party” Episode 107 — Pictured: (l-r) Josie Totah as Lexi, Mitchell Hoog as Mac Morris — (Photo by: Casey Durkin/Peacock) Courtesy of Casey Durkin/Peacock


The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known simply as the Emmys, is television’s most prestigious artistic award. There are many records held for both wins and nominations in the near eight decades.

For wins: NBC’s “Frasier” and ABC’s “Modern Family” hold the record for the most awards in best comedy series, both of which won five times consecutively. The classic sitcoms “All in the Family” and “Cheers” both have four wins, although not consecutive.

For nominations: The shows that have been nominated in this category the most are “Cheers” and “M*A*S*H,” both with 11 over their runs. The former winning four and the latter once. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is the most nominated show in this category with nine but has not won (as of 2021).

NBC is the network with the most wins in this category, with 26, with CBS following with 22. Amazon Prime Video is the first and only streaming service to win this category with “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (in 2018) and “Fleabag” (in 2019).

2021 Primetime Emmy Awards Predictions

About the Primetime Emmy Awards (Emmys)

The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known as the Emmys, is given out by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). Since 1949, the awards recognize excellence in American primetime television programming. They are divided into three classes – Primetime Emmy Awards, the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards (honors artisan achievements) and the Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards (recognizes significant engineering and technological contributions). The typical eligibility period is between June 1 and May 31 of any given year. The Television Academy comprises over 25,000 members, representing 30 professional peer groups, including performers, directors, producers, art directors and various artisans and executives.

  • The 73rd Emmy Awards are scheduled to air on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8:00 pm est on CBS and on-demand on sister streamer Paramount Plus.