Last Year’s Winner: “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: With its win in 2018, “American Crime Story” officially became the first series to win multiple awards in the Best Limited Series category. Now, that’s not to say franchises had yet to earn multiple wins before. “Roots” (1977) and “Roots: The Next Generations” (1979) both won the category, but the sequel season would’ve qualified as a drama series under modern Emmy rules. Meanwhile, Ryan Murphy’s FX anthology is also the only show to have the same title (“American Crime Story”) preceding its new, winning entries (“The People vs. O.J. Simpson” and “The Assassination of Gianni Versace”), but other sequel seasons had won (“Columbo” Season 3 and “Upstairs, Downstairs” Season 4 submitted as limited series and won) as well as unofficial franchises like HBO and Dreamworks’ “Band of Brothers” (2002) and “The Pacific” (2010). Among active franchises, “Fargo” could become the second official anthology series to win multiple trophies — and the first with the exact same title.
Fun Fact: With one more win, HBO would tie NBC and PBS for the most all-time wins in this category. The two broadcast networks have 10 wins each, while HBO is stuck at nine — for now. (Notably, FX won its only three trophies in just the last five years.)
Notable Ineligible Series: “Big Little Lies,” “Fargo,” “American Crime Story,” “American Horror Story: Apocalypse”
At the bottom of this page are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Limited Series (listed in alphabetical order). This article will be updated throughout the season, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz from the 2019 race, and read predictions in the rest of the categories, as well. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be given out Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, September 15. The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, September 22. Fox is broadcasting the ceremony.
The State of the Race
After an uncharacteristically weak field in 2018 (especially when the TV Academy inexplicably snubbed “Twin Peaks” and “The Looming Tower”), this year’s crop of contenders is already bursting with nominees capable of going the distance. The Golden Globe and SAG Awards highlighted a burgeoning battle between two premium network offerings: HBO’s critically hailed summer smash “Sharp Objects” and Showtime’s well-received winter hit “Escape at Dannemora.” Both offer alluring talent in front of and behind the camera, and both should have the legs to last in this year’s lengthy Emmy race.
But newcomers are coming in hot. Hulu is high on its six-part adaptation of “Catch-22” from George Clooney and Grant Heslov (and they should be — these are Oscar winners, people). FX will have a few Oscar winners of its own in the mix thanks to “Fosse/Verdon,” though it will notably be without perennial contender “American Horror Story” after the TV Academy decided its overlapping characters and story threads constituted the latest season as a drama series. Netflix has Ava DuVernay’s Central Park Five miniseries, “When They See Us,” which is dropping May 31, right before the submission deadline, and on the same day as Amazon’s “Good Omens.”
These entries alone — all with good reasons to believe they can win — put the tally at six, or one more than is typically nominated. But these are far from the only six in the running. “True Detective” mounted a return to form in Season 3 and will have the beloved Mahershala Ali out front at every campaign stop. “A Very English Scandal” is still eligible and got a bit of a boost at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards (plus, there’s the “Paddington 2” bump). “Maniac” is the kind of ambitious, cinematic narrative Emmy voters can fall for, and its stars should have plenty to talk about if given the platform. And after last year, we learned not to count out TNT dramas — “I Am the Night” didn’t get quite the ratings “The Alienist” did, but it’s absolutely the better show. Chris Pine’s shrieks alone could push it into contention.
Believe it or not, there’s more. Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House” may not have the pedigree of the streaming giant’s other contenders, but it made an impact when it debuted and could be the fan favorite of the group. Hulu also has “Castle Rock” — which got a boost from the WGA earlier this year — and “The Act,” which features another transformative turn from Patricia Arquette. (Could the “Escape at Dannemora” star be a dual nominee this year?) HBO’s “Chernobyl” and “Catherine the Great” could win over TV Academy voters who prefer period fare, while AMC’s “The Little Drummer Girl” deserves recognition for Florence Pugh, director Park Chan-wook, and, yes, the series overall. Nat Geo’s “The Hot Zone” looks to leave a mark, as well, with Emmy favorite Julianna Margulies.
What more will make noise in the 2019 race? In a year like this, there are bound to be a few surprises.
- “Chernobyl” (HBO)
- “Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime)
- ”Fosse/Verdon” (FX)
- “Sharp Objects” (HBO)
- “When They See Us” (Netflix)
Spoilers: “Catch-22,” “A Very English Scandal,” “I Am the Night,” “True Detective”
In a Perfect World: “Castle Rock,” “The Little Drummer Girl,” “What/If”