Sunday, April 14, 2024

Top 10 Limited Series To Keep An Eye On For The 2024 Emmy Awards Season

Traditionally, the Outstanding Limited Series category has been one of the premier Emmy races each year, often attracting top filmmakers and major movie stars to bring to life stories that can best be told in a 6- to 10-episode format (with, if they’re lucky, the budget to match). And like its sister awards, the Oscars, many of the main competitors usually wait to premiere until the end of the eligibility period to be fresher in voters’ minds.

Not so this year. There are still nine weeks to go before the May 31st entry deadline, and there are several prominent limited series – Park Chan-wook’s “The Sympathizer” (Max) and Michael Douglas as “Franklin” (Apple TV+) among them – still to premiere.

However, a consensus is growing among Emmy prognosticators that most of the category’s top contenders are already (or about to be) streaming and available to watch today.

So, if you want to jump on your Emmy homework this year, here are ten limited series to put on your radar, along with a few comments on where their awards strengths (or weaknesses) may lie. Happy streaming!

FARGO(8 episodes)
Now streaming on Hulu

The first of the “Fargo” seasons with no connections to other stories in the “Fargo” universe, the show’s fifth season is set in 2019 Minnesota, where an unassuming housewife (Juno Temple) suddenly finds that secrets from her past have been exposed, running her afoul of the town’s corrupt sheriff (Jon Hamm) who is strictly a law-and-order guy (when it suits him). The tone of Season 5 is lighter than in previous years, and with the combination of critical acclaim and a cast headed by Emmy favorites Hamm and Temple, “Fargo’s” fifth season could make for an attractive awards package.

EMMY OUTLOOK: After a disappointing Primetime Emmy shoutout for Season 4, the fifth season of the “Fargo” franchise rebounded in critical acclaim. The series has received Outstanding Limited Series nominations for its first three seasons (and a win for Season 1). Season 5 has also recently earned Golden Globe nominations for the series and its stars Jon Hamm and Juno Temple, who are in an excellent position to repeat with Emmy.

Now streaming on Paramount+ with Showtime

Though their romance at the heart of “Fellow Travelers” is fiction, the events that political staffers Hawk (Matt Bomer) and Tim (Jonathan Bailey) live through – from the “Lavender Scare” of the 1950s (in which suspected gays were drummed out of government) to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s – were very real. The steadfast love these two men had for each other during those historical times is a story that has rarely been told, and the fact that it is told so well here helps make “Fellow Travelers” one of the year’s standout series.

EMMY OUTLOOK: While “Fellow Travelers” nabbed a key limited series nomination from the Golden Globes, several newly arrived miniseries may make a repeat at the Emmys more difficult. More likely will be acting nominations, with Bomer earning Best Actor nominations from the Globes and SAG and Bailey earning Supporting Actor honors from the Satellite and Critics Choice Awards.

Now streaming on Hulu

Truman Capote’s infamous 1965 article exposing the backbiting among the doyennes of New York high society is at the center of the second season of the Ryan Murphy “Feud” series. Like many of Murphy’s offerings, “The Swans” boasts a glamorous setting, high fashion, and outsized performances, but behind the camera, he has brought in the big guns: Tony-nominated playwright Jon Robin Baitz, who wrote all eight episodes, and Oscar-nominee Gus Van Sant, who directed six of them.

EMMY OUTLOOK: Though the first season of “Feud” earned 18 Emmy nominations (with two wins), “Capote vs. the Swans,” though favorably reviewed, fell slightly short of those critical heights. Still, Ryan Murphy’s many limited series remains catnip to the TV Academy, and with a collection of great actresses – Naomi Watts, Diane Lane, Chloe Sevigny, and Calista Flockhart, not to mention a delicious turn by Tom Hollander as Capote – the Academy’s acting branch has a bounty from which to choose.

GRISELDA(6 episodes)
Now streaming on Netflix

The transformation of beloved sitcom star Sofia Vergara into real-life ruthless drug lord Griselda Blanco was the draw in this biographical crime drama of the Miami-based kingpin known as the “Godmother of Cocaine.” Vergara’s performance was widely praised, although some critics had qualms about another Latin-based drug story. Still, Emmy voters have embraced crime dramas in this category before – look no further than Ryan Murphy’s “American Crime Story” – and may do so again with “Griselda.”

EMMY OUTLOOK: Emmy voters quickly sit up and take notice whenever a beloved comedy star goes dramatic. With “Griselda,” four-time “Modern Family” nominee Sofia Vergara is the latest to make the switch. Her performance has garnered some of the best notices of her career, and while “Griselda” goes to some very dark places narratively, Emmy voters have gone there before. Hence, a limited series nomination is not out of the question.

Now streaming on Apple TV+

Based on the best-selling novel by Bonnie Garmus, “Lessons in Chemistry” centers on chemist Elizabeth Zott (Brie Larson), who, after being fired from her lab tech job in the 1960s, takes on a new challenge: hosting a television cooking show called “Supper at Six,” in which she sets out to bring science to her female viewers. Critics praised the cast across the board (with Larson’s work particularly cited), and similar high marks were earned for the show’s writing and direction.

EMMY OUTLOOK: With its mid-October premiere, “Lessons in Chemistry” has been available to stream longer than most of its competition, which could prove to be a decided advantage. With Golden Globe nods for the series and Larson’s performance, plus additional acting nominations for Lewis Pullman and Aja Naomi King from Critics Choice, and a DGA win for director Sarah Adina Smith, “Lessons in Chemistry” is poised to be a major factor in the Outstanding Limited Series categories.

MASTERS OF THE AIR(9 episodes)
Now streaming on Apple TV+

The heroics of the men of the 100th Bomb Group, a heavy bomber unit based in southern England in World War II, are celebrated in this nine-episode series, which is executive produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. The series emphasizes the teamwork that the members of the 100th displayed while under fire, with dramas of its individual members interwoven with the squad’s missions, which are captured in breathtaking aerial cinematography.

EMMY OUTLOOK: With Oscar winners Hanks and Spielberg behind it, “Masters of the Air” is this season’s “Band of Brothers,” and like that 2001 Emmy winner, its likely strength (along with “Shōgun”) in the tech categories should help to propel it to a series nomination. The big question is whether its series strength will be enough to lead its talented cast (including recent Oscar nominees Austin Butler and Barry Keoghan, along with “The Boys in the Boat’s” Callum Turner) to acting nominations as well.

THE REGIME(6 episodes)
Now streaming on Max

Will Tracy’s “The Regime” takes some big swings, with a setting echoing the majesty of “The Crown” with satiric dialogue much closer to that of “Veep.” For some critics, the genre mix didn’t quite work. Still, all were unanimous in praise of Kate Winslet, who stars as a paranoid ruler of a Central European aristocracy, who, as her regime is crumbling, begins to lean on her “personal water diviner” (Matthias Schoenaerts) to help save her reign.

EMMY OUTLOOK: “The Regime” certainly has one of the most impressive Emmy pedigrees of any limited series in the race. Star Kate Winslet, who won Lead Actress for her first two HBO limited series, “Mildred Pierce” and “Mare of Easttown,” has joined forces with six-time Emmy winner Will Tracy, who created “The Regime.” Although the series’ satiric tone has divided some critics, with the talent involved in “The Regime,” it will most certainly be watched by Emmy voters.

RIPLEY(8 episodes)
Starts streaming on Netflix on April 4th

Though Patricia Highsmith’s thriller, “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” has been adapted twice for film, this limited series is its first major foray into television. Written and directed by Emmy-nominated and Oscar-winning Steven Zaillian, “Ripley” follows the events of the novel, as Tom Ripley (Andrew Scott) is hired by a rich New York father to lure his son Dickie (Johnny Flynn) back home from his extravagant life in Italy.

EMMY OUTLOOK: When a writer and director as esteemed as Zaillian signs on to a project, attention must be paid. And when he writes and directs all eight episodes, then it must really be paid. If that weren’t enough, “Ripley” gives Emmy voters another special gift: the chance to provide star Andrew Scott a Best Actor nomination, something that Oscar voters failed to do.

SHŌGUN(10 episodes)
Now streaming on Hulu

James Clavell’s enormous 1312-page novel has been adapted for television once before in a 1980 NBC miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain, which was one of the most acclaimed of its era. This new 10-episode adaptation shifts the narrative slightly from that first series to tell the story more from the Japanese perspective, which offers this retelling a decidedly fresh point of view. At a reported budget of $250 million, the production elements are first-rate, which helps to provide “Shōgun” with the kind of gravitas that distinguishes memorable limited series.

EMMY OUTLOOK: “Shōgun” is no stranger to the Emmys. That 1980 NBC adaptation won the Outstanding Miniseries Emmy that year and was nominated for 13 others. Several critics cite how more detailed this latest adaptation is, so it’s a safe bet that this “Shōgun” will do equally well. With critical praise lavished for both above-the-line and below-the-line, “Shōgun” may garner the kind of deep bench of support from all branches that in the past have marked an Emmy front-runner.

Now streaming on Max

“Night Country,” the fourth season of the anthology series and the first without the involvement of the show’s creator, Nick Pizzolatto, centers on the disappearance of eight men from a research station in a snowbound Alaskan town. The series’ writer/director, Issa López, has fashioned a claustrophobic setting for the investigation, this time centering on two female investigators (Jodie Foster and Kali Reis), a first for the series, as well as incorporating supernatural elements, much like the series’ acclaimed first season.

EMMY OUTLOOK: The praise that “Night Country” has received is the most for a “True Detective” season since the anthology’s first season in 2014, which garnered 12 Emmy nominations and won five. Two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster, fresh off her fifth nomination (for “Nyad“), has been nominated twice for Emmys, but neither for acting. A Lead Actress nomination here would make for a compelling Emmy narrative. Nominations both above and below the line seem likely as well.

What do you think are the big Emmy contenders this year for Outstanding Limited Series? What are some of your favorite shows you’ve watched for this season so far? Please let us know in the comments section below or over on our Twitter account, and be sure to check out our latest Emmy predictions which will be arriving later this week. We will also be bringing back the Next Best Series Podcast and conducting a number of interviews with Emmy contenders throughout the awards season.

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Tom O'Brien
Tom O'Brien
Palm Springs Blogger and Awards lover. Editor at Exact Change & contributing writer for Gold Derby.

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