Emmy Analysis: Outstanding Limited Series

Easily one of this year’s best program categories in terms of quality, the Emmy award for Outstanding Limited Series will be hotly contested. Each tapped into the zeitgeist in different ways, through an array of genres and historical settings. While the lineup features one nominations juggernaut, there’s definitely room for an upset.

Here’s a closer look at this year’s Limited Series nominees:


Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu)

Adapted from Celeste Ng’s novel of the same name, Little Fires Everywhere was one of the “water-cooler” TV events of the summer, spawning memes for the Twitterverse. Boasting the talents of Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington in lead roles, it told an intriguing mystery that commented on issues surrounding class and race. But while it was popular among viewers, critics and Emmy voters weren’t fully won over. The series was notably overlooked for its writing and Reese Witherspoon, who missed out in favor of Kerry Washington’s equally fierce performance. Though it did score a posthumous directing nod for Lynn Shelton, Little Fires Everywhere is likely in 5th place here.


Mrs. America (FX)

With one of the most incredible ensembles of this or any year, Mrs. America seemed to have Emmy written all over it from the moment it was announced. Exploring the 1970s political movement to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, it stars Cate Blanchett (seeking her first Emmy win) as the cunning conservative activist Phyllis Schlaffly determined to quell its support. Assuming the roles of other prominent figures of the time, the supporting cast is equally compelling, duly claiming three nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress. Coupled with several other craft nominations – though conspicuously missing out in Directing – Mrs. America could definitely sneak out a 4th win for FX in this category.


Unbelievable (Netflix)

Released on Netflix in September 2019, there were questions surrounding whether voters would remember the well-received Unbelievable nearly a year later. As it turned out, this harrowing series indeed had an underwhelming showing, notably with the exclusion of its tremendous lead performers Kaitlyn Dever and Merritt Wever. Nods for Toni Collette and the writing indicates some amount of broad support, but it would be a major surprise if Unbelievable took home the gold.


Unorthodox (Netflix)

One of the most pleasant surprises of the nominations came from the strong showing of Netflix’s underdog contender Unorthodox. Truly “the little show that could”, this 4-episode miniseries became a breakout on the backs of its diminutive star Shira Haas. Landing virtually every reasonable nomination it could have hoped for, Unorthodox could be one to watch on Sunday. But with splashier nominees in the mix, this modest tale will probably feel honored just to be nominated.


Watchmen (HBO)

After a tepidly received film adaptation, the story of Watchmen wasn’t an obvious pick to become HBO’s next big thing. But with Damon Lindelof’s brilliant reimagining of the iconic graphic novel as a commentary on white supremacy, it became one of the most lauded TV programs of the year. Emmy voters agreed, showering it with a whopping 26 nominations to lead all contenders this year. Heading into Sunday’s ceremony it has already picked up 5 wins at the Creative Arts Ceremony. All signs point towards it continuing that success at the big show.

Should Win: Watchmen

Will Win: Watchmen


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments



Written by Shane Slater

Shane Slater is a passionate cinephile whose love for cinema led him to creating his blog Film Actually in 2009. Since then, he has written for, and The Spool. Based in Kingston, Jamaica, he relishes the film festival experience, having covered TIFF, NYFF and Sundance among others. He is a proud member of the African-American Film Critics Association.

TIFF Film Review: COVID-19 Doc ’76 Days’ is Surprisingly Hopeful

Emmy Analysis: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series