The Emmy for Best Limited Series is a clash of the titans between some of the most nominated programs of the year in any genre. At the top of that list is “Feud: Bette and Joan,” whose 18 nominations ties it with “Stranger Things” as the third most nominated program (“Saturday Night Live” and “Westworld” lead with 22). That includes all-important bids for writing, directing, casting, and acting (six performers made the cut, the most of any limited series). And it tells the kind of famous showbiz story (the decades-long rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford) that should appeal to the industry insiders who vote for the Emmys. So under normal circumstances this would be the obvious frontrunner, but this is one of the most competitive contests this category has ever seen.
Be sure to make your own predictions in this race as well as the rest of the Primetime Emmy categories and compete against our Emmy experts who cover this race year-round for such leading media outlets, as well as the two dozen amateurs who ranked in the top 24 last year, the all-stars who did well for two years in a row, and thousands of Emmy fans just like you. (Scroll down to see up-to-date racetrack odds derived from all of these predictions.)
“Big Little Lies” followed close behind in the nominations with 16, and just like “Feud” it’s nominated for writing, directing, casting, and acting (five performers were nominated — not too shabby). The seven-part series aired on HBO, which has long been a juggernaut in movie and miniseries categories. And it might have another key advantage over “Feud”: an editing nomination. So even more than “Feud” it contends in the most important fields that signal an Emmy frontrunner. What’s more, the fact that the contemporary program earned as many below-the-line bids as the lavish period piece “Feud” might indicate even more support from the TV academy.
FX’s anthology “Fargo” also has 16 nominations, including in the same five key fields as “Big Little Lies.” It might have under-performed slightly in the acting races — Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Michael Stuhlbarg missed the cut for their standout supporting roles, but unlike its rivals “Fargo” is already a proven winner. It claimed this award in 2014 and has won a total of five Emmys out of 36 past nominations.
“The Night Of” is a crime drama like “Fargo,” though it takes place in New York City instead of the Midwest. It aired last summer, earlier than any other nominee in this category, but the TV academy remembered it well enough to nominate it 13 times, including — you guessed it — in the five key races shared by “Big Little Lies” and “Fargo.” But will it be fresh enough in voters’ minds compared to its spring rivals?
Rounding out the category is National Geographic’s “Genius,” whose 10 nominations would normally be a commanding total, but it may be an underdog in this race. It earned noms for its Oscar winning star Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein and for its Oscar winning director Ron Howard, but it’s missing other key bids, and NatGeo has only just established itself as a major player at the Emmys. Could it pull off an upset?
UPDATED: August 24, 2017
1. “Big Little Lies” — 2/3
2. “Feud: Bette and Joan” — 3/1
3. “The Night Of” — 7/1
4. “Fargo” — 40/1
5. “Genius” — 80/1