‘Cobra Kai’ could wax on at the Emmys the same way ‘Schitt’s Creek’ did: The Netflix effect

The “Karate Kid” sequel series “Cobra Kai” flew somewhat under the radar when it ran on YouTube’s premium service for its first and second seasons in 2018 and 2019. But then YouTube stopped producing original scripted programs and it was acquired by Netflix, where it premiered its third season in January 2021. That move made the series a sudden watercooler hit, similar to how “Schitt’s Creek” went from underdog Canadian comedy to unbeatable Emmy juggernaut.

“Schitt’s Creek” aired on Pop TV, a network with a lower profile than many other TV channels and streaming services. It never moved to Netflix for any of its six seasons, per se, but its episodes were eventually picked up by the streaming service, dramatically increasing its visibility to viewers and, subsequently, to Emmy voters. It got its first Emmy nominations in 2019 for its fifth season, and then achieved an unprecedented sweep of its top categories, including Best Comedy Series, for its sixth and final season in 2020.

Something similar happened to “Breaking Bad,” the drama that consistently won Emmys for lead actor Bryan Cranston but was otherwise overshadowed by fellow AMC series “Mad Men” in its first few seasons. However, streaming its earlier episodes on Netflix helped audiences get caught up on the show, causing its AMC ratings to surge and leading to two Emmy wins for Best Drama Series (2013 and 2014).

Is it “Cobra Kai’s” turn? The series revisits the characters Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence from the original 1984 “Karate Kid,” with original actors Ralph Macchio and William Zabka reprising their roles. The series has been widely acclaimed by critics, with the Rotten Tomatoes critics’ consensus for season three stating, “By pairing its emotional punches with stronger humor, ‘Cobra Kai’s’ third season finds itself in fine fighting form.”

Now it ranks among the top eight likely nominees for Best Comedy Series, according to the combined predictions of Gold Derby users as of this writing, and Macchio is among our top six predicted nominees for Best Comedy Actor (Zabka is close behind, ranked eighth). And “The Karate Kid” already has a strong awards pedigree to build on: Pat Morita earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for the original film, so “Cobra Kai” could also be like other shows that have gone from Oscars to Emmys, like “M*A*S*H” and “Fargo.”

Do you agree that “Cobra Kai” is a safe bet for Emmys this season? If so, how many nominations do you think it could get?

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