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SYFY WIRE The Handmaid's Tale

'The Handmaid's Tale' sets new snubs record at 2021 Emmys with most noms ever, but no wins

By Matthew Jackson
The Handmaid's Tale Season 4

The Handmaid's Tale is one of the most acclaimed series of its era, and will forever be remembered as one of the shows that helped make streaming series a major force at awards shows. After its first season in 2017 the series was honored with a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series, the first streamer to take the honor, and went on to win a Peabody Award, Golden Globes for Best Drama and Best Actress in a Drama for star Elisabeth Moss, and other assorted Emmys over the course of its run. By any measure it is one of streaming's most celebrated shows.

But at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday night, The Handmaid's Tale set the one Emmy record it was perhaps hoping to steer clear of: The most nominations with no wins, ever.

The celebrated Hulu drama, set in a dystopian future where the U.S. government has been overthrown and fertile women have been forced into captivity to become breeders for the wealthy, came into Sunday night's ceremony with 21 nominations across the Primetime Emmys and the Creative Arts Emmys (which were handed out the week before), and ended the night without a single trophy. The 21 nomination shut-out tops the previous record set by AMC's beloved drama Mad Men, which left the Emmys with zero wins out of 17 nominations in 2012.

As with many previous Emmys ceremonies, this year's Primetime show seemed set to be a fairly predictable night based on the early awards alone, and apart from a few surprises (like the great Michael Coel winning for her work on I May Destroy You, and an acting win for Ewan McGregor in Halston), the evening did seem to favor just a handful of key shows. Apple TV+ got its expected trophies for Ted Lasso, while HBO picked up wins for Mare of Easttown and Hacks and Netflix cleaned up with The Crown and The Queen's Gambit — and that was pretty much it.

If you only watched the Primetime Emmy ceremony Sunday night, it might have also seemed that two of the night's other most-nominated shows, Disney+'s WandaVision and The Mandalorian, also walked away empty-handed. Fortunately for Disney, though, both shows had a big night at the Creative Arts Emmys, with WandaVision taking home awards for costuming, original music, and production design and The Mandalorian earning trophies for cinematography, prosthetic makeup, original score, sound mixing, visual effects, and stunt work.

So, that leaves The Handmaid's Tale as the year's most prominent shutout at an Emmys largely dominated by just a handful of shows, at least in the Primetime sector of the Emmys. What does that mean? Maybe nothing other than that Emmys voters basically had their favorites well in hand this year and voted accordingly. Plus, if you're a Handmaid's Tale fan, you know that a fifth season is already in the works after an absolutely massive ending to Season 4 — so more story is on the way whether Emmy voters are interested or not.