×

You thought the 2021 Emmys race was stacked? That was nothing. Get ready for a 2022 awards traffic jam.

And yes, it all starts with the Roy family. “Succession,” which became a phenom during its second-season run in fall 2019, won the 2020 Emmys for drama series, writing, directing, lead actor (Jeremy Strong) and guest actress (Cherry Jones), among other prizes.

HBO knows what it’s got. The network is already having fun teasing out Season 3, releasing multiple posters that play with who might or might not be aligned with fighting father and son Logan (Brian Cox) and Kendall (Strong). And the fans are eating it up, excitedly anticipating the show’s Oct. 17 return. Out of the box, “Succession” enters the 2022 Emmy season as the likely frontrunner for another drama series Emmy.

But trying to guess much beyond that is a bit foolhardy, given how unpredictable scheduling has become lately; it’s tough to handicap when shows might return versus take an extended hiatus in this conjoined era of COVID-19 and Peak TV.

Pandemic production delays pushed many of TV’s biggest Emmy contenders into next year — but others have been delayed because, in this epoch of multi-hyphenate, multi-platform stars, sometimes there will be no TV until it’s time.

I mean, we’re all fans of his hip-hop career as Childish Gambino, but it has taken far too long for another season of Donald Glover’s “Atlanta.” The show will finally be back next year, as will fellow Emmy darlings “Barry,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” on the comedy side. Also expected to air new episodes are previous comedy series nominees like “Dead to Me,” “Russian Doll” and “Insecure.”

And that’s not to mention current hits that aren’t taking a year off: We’re watching Season 2 of “Ted Lasso” right now, and that may very well be the instant front-runner for 2022 on the laffer side. But many of this year’s nominees, including “Hacks,” “The Flight Attendant,” “Pen15,” “Cobra Kai” and the final season of “Black-ish,” are also likely to be back with new episodes for the next eligibility period.

Other comedies back in this new cycle include “Black Monday,” which is always good for at least a nomination for star Don Cheadle.

And speaking of Cheadle, he’s the narrator for ABC’s new take on “The Wonder Years,” which might perhaps be the next hope for the broadcast networks in grabbing more Emmy comedy series attention.

On the drama side, it’s a similar tale. Shows that took a break but will now be back, besides “Succession,” will likely include “Better Call Saul,” “Stranger Things,” “The Morning Show,” “Euphoria,” “Ozark,” “Westworld” and “Killing Eve.” There won’t be as many returnees from this year’s drama series Emmy crop, but among them will be “The Boys.” (It’s still unclear whether others, including the next seasons of “The Crown” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” will make it back in time for the next eligibility frame.)

Throw in newcomers like Showtime’s “Dexter” revival, “Dexter: New Blood”; Jeff Bridges’ “The Old Man” (FX on Hulu); and HBO’s “The Gilded Age,” with more dramas to come in the winter and spring, and the drama field is still very crowded.

But once again, the most intense race may be in the limited series/anthology field, where early entrants include Hulu’s “Nine Perfect Strangers,” FX’s “Impeachment: American Crime Story” and HBO’s “Scenes From a Marriage,” soon to be joined by Showtime’s “The First Lady,” HBO’s “Landscapers,” Hulu’s “Dopesick” and “Pam and Tommy” and Netflix’s “Colin in Black and White,” to name just a few.

The big mystery may be how HBO classifies this past summer’s buzzy “The White Lotus,” which might still be on voters’ minds a year from now as they’re marking their ballots. Although the show will switch locations and characters in Season 2 — making it an anthology series and eligible to compete in those fields — there’s a good chance creator Mike White might add some continuity by bringing a character or two back from Season 1, which would then place it in drama contention. And that’s where I’d put it, because I selfishly want to see more Jennifer Coolidge next season.