2021 Emmys preview: crippling the limited series categories

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(Photo: Netflix, Disney +, HBO)

Joe Reid isn’t just the editor-in-chief of Primetimer. He’s also an awards expert and half of the popular podcast, This Had Oscar Buzz. Over the next few weeks, Joe will be looking at competition in each of the major categories at this year’s 73rd Annual Emmy Awards. Today: Limited Series.

We’ve been working on it for a while now, but the 2021 Emmys are where the limited series finally took its place on top of the TV mountain. For so long, we argued over whether or not it was gender bias that led the Emmys to consistently place Outstanding Drama as the last (and by implication most prestigious) award of the night, when in reality it was all about walking on water, waiting for the year when an overpowered witch, a funny talking cop and a chess grandmaster would be the most talked about shows on television.

The limited series is here, and the shows nominated in this category represent the ones that have captured the television conversation the most over the past year. But who’s about to win in the Outstanding Limited Series, Actor, and Actress categories?

Exceptional limited series

  • I can destroy you (HBO)
  • Easttown mare (HBO)
  • The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)
  • The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime video)
  • WandaVision (Disney +)

Precursor : Among the major categories of shows, this is by far the most competitive and the most exciting. All of these five shows were brilliantly reviewed and discussed as the major events they were. In a time when television audiences are so fragmented, we have truly come together to follow Wanda and Mare; maybe this kind of old-fashioned viewing experience week after week will help these shows? The Queen’s Gambit won the Golden Globe, but none of its Emmy contests were nominated at the time (only I can destroy you was even eligible). The Gold Derby rewards experts are mostly divided, giving a slight edge to The Queen’s Gambit, which would be Netflix’s first win in this category.

The most likely spoiler: Yes The Queen’s Gambit is a small favorite of the Netflix stable, he has a few HBO thoroughbreds chasing him. Since the category was renamed “Limited Series” in 2015, HBO has won four of the six trophies. I can destroy you was the famous critical cause last summer, but the recency bias – and the fact that it was an exceptional TV – could benefit Easttown mare most.

The Feel-Good Long-Shot: It’s hard to tell if any of these shows are too long. I can destroy you would end up being a wellness victory, if only because of how hard Michaela Coel fought to get the show done and how well the show’s supporters (critics and people on Twitter) fought to demand its recognition. At the other end of this spectrum, WandaVision didn’t need to fight for the eyes, but a victory for a superhero series in what is certainly the most prestigious category of the year this year, would be a huge broken barrier for genre shows, not to mention a populist choice that the Emmy telecast would love to feature.

Chew statistic: FX, the network that won the two Emmy Awards for the limited series that HBO has not won in the past six years, is not nominated in this category for the first time since 2011, when the category “Outstanding Miniseries” was combined with the TV movie category and Downton abbey (which was still considered a miniseries) won. During this period, eleven FX mini-series were nominated, including three winners.

Prediction: The Queen’s Gambit peaked at the start of this category, and while sometimes that is enough, the show has lost momentum in recent times, while Easttown mare is just full of it (that is, steam). Take that Emmy home to Delaware County.

Best Actress in a Limited Series

  • Michaela Coel as Arabella in I can destroy you
  • Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin in Genius: Aretha
  • Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in WandaVision
  • Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon in The Queen’s Gambit
  • Kate Winslet as Mare Sheehan in Easttown mare

Precursor : The fact that Anya Taylor-Joy got off to a good start in this competition late last year means she was able to grab Golden Globes and SAG Awards wins even before Elizabeth Olsen or Kate Winslet were. Of the game. Still, success tends to breed success in the rewards game, so it’s hard to imagine anyone else at the front of the pack at this point.

The most likely spoiler: Two things can be true simultaneously: Anya Taylor-Joy may be the definitive favorite here, while at the same time it’s the most competitive category on the Emmy ballot, with almost everyone making a good record to win. . Best placed among the other four is Kate Winslet, whose reputation (one Oscar, one Emmy, three BAFTAs, three SAG Awards, three Golden Globes) is working in her favor, especially when receiving some of the best reviews of her career.

The Feel-Good Long-Shot: A win for Michaela Coel would be a win not only for I can destroy you but for the strength, courage and artistry it took to bring this story to the screen.

Chew statistic: Each of the first three seasons of the NatGeo anthology series Genie have produced Emmy nominations for their stars: Geoffrey Rush as Einstein, Antonio Banderas as Picasso, and now Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin. This bodes well for all of those who make the fourth season, which will focus on Martin Luther King, Jr.

Prediction: Is a loose hedge to go with Mare in limited series but stick with it Anya Taylor-Joy here? Maybe, but that’s what’s happening.

Outstanding actor in a limited series

  • Paul Bettany as Vision in WandaVision
  • Hugh Grant as Jonathan Fraser in The defeat
  • Ewan McGregor as Halston in Halston
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton
  • Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr in Hamilton

Precursor : You tell me! If the limited-series actress is insanely competitive because of the nominated elite performances, the limited-series actress is insanely competitive because no one really gets all that buzz. The country is certainly still wild for Hamilton, as evidenced by the many nominations he has received for the Disney + broadcast of his performance filmed on Broadway. But while the Tony Awards could see both Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr. in the same category and still vote overwhelmingly for one (Odom, in this case), it’s likely that Emmy voters will part ways with each other. . Where he would like be likely if any of the other three nominees were stronger contenders. I mean, you would’ve thought that a 2016 Broadway show couldn’t dominate the Emmy nominations in 2021 either, but here we are.

The most likely spoiler: As wild as it is to consider, the best bet to outsmart a Hamilton victory here could come from a costumed superhero. With WandaVision Incredibly popular but probably in third place in the Limited Series and Actress categories, maybe this is where voters decide to show their love for the Marvel / Disney + series and vote for Paul Bettany’s excellent performance.

The Feel-Good Long-Shot: He’s probably too much of a contender to win to be considered a “long shot”, but it should be noted that Hugh Grant hasn’t won any major type of award – no Oscar, no Emmy, no SAG Awards – since its breakthrough in Four weddings and a funeral in 1994. He has done a great job since then, and whatever you may have thought The defeat, his performance was absolutely brilliant.

Chew statistic: In encouraging news for the Hamilton contingent, five of the last six times that two actors from the same show were nominated together in this category, one of them won: Riz Ahmed against John Turturro in The night of; Courtney B. Vance on Cuba Gooding Jr. for The people against OJ Simpson; Michael Douglas vs. Matt Damon for Behind the candelabra; Kevin Costner on Bill Paxton for Hatfield and the McCoys; and Barry Pepper on Greg Kinnear for The Kennedys.

Prediction: This one is a real toss-up, so I’m just going to go for the good vibes and predict that Hugh grant will triumph for all murderous, deceitful and rich husbands everywhere.

The 73rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards are scheduled to air September 19 on CBS and Paramount +.

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Joe Reid is editor-in-chief of Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has been featured in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The AV Club and more.


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