All 22,000 plus voting members of the TV academy have until July 13 to cast their 2020 Emmy Awards nominations ballots for programs (save for animated documentary/nonfiction which are restricted to their peer groups). Unlike the Oscars, voters for the Emmys do not rank their choices and nominees are determined by a simple tally. In the past, voters were limited in the number of programs that they could put forth. Three years ago that cap (which was usually 10 per category) was lifted.
While there has been an explosion in the number of comedy and drama series recently, the limited series genre had been almost static. There were 25 entries in 2015, 26 in 2016 and 25 again in 2017. But there has been an uptick as of late, with 33 such shows submitted in 2018, 35 last year and 41 for this awards cycle. Even so, with five nominees for Best Limited Series, the odds for each of the entries detailed below is pretty good. We fill find out which made the cut when Emmy nominations are announced on July 28.
Unlike comedy and drama series, which are simply listed on the ballot by name, the limited series submissions include the plot description and cast list.
American Horror Story: 1984
In the summer of 1984, five friends escape Los Angeles to work as counselors at Camp Redwood. As they adjust to their new jobs, they quickly learn that the only thing scarier than campfire tales is the past coming to haunt you.
Starring: Bradley Buecker, John Gray, Crystal Liu, Billie Lourd, Emma Roberts, Leslie Grossman, Angelica Ross, Cody Fern, John Carroll Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Gus Kenworthy, Zach Villa, Deron Horton
Barkskins follows a disparate group of outcasts and dreamers battling to escape their pasts while navigating the brutal frontier hardships, competing interests and tangled loyalties at the crossroads of civilization: the New World.
Starring: David Thewlis, Marcia Gay Harden
When a long-buried secret is unearthed it threatens the reputation and inheritance of many, sending shockwaves through the sophisticated society of London’s Belgravia. Pride and loyalty will be tested, as lives hang in the balance.
Starring: Tamsin Greig, Harriet Walter, Tom Wilkinson, Alice Eve, Ella Purnell, Jack Bardoe
Briarpatch follows Allegra Dill (Rosario Dawson), a dogged investigator returning to her border-town Texas home after her sister is murdered. What begins as a search for a killer turns into an all- consuming fight to bring her corrupt hometown to its knees.
Starring: Rosario Dawson, Jay R. Ferguson, Edi Gathegi, Brian Geraghty, Kim Dickens
A feud between warring clans comes to a boil when budding psychopath Annie Wilkes gets waylaid in Castle Rock.
Starring: Lizzy Caplan, Paul Sparks, Barkhad Abdi, Yusra Warsama, Elsie Fisher, Matthew Alan, Tim Robbins
Catherine The Great
Amid scandal, intrigue and immense conflict, Russian empress Catherine the Great develops a unique and devoted relationship with Grigory Potemkin as they overcome their adversaries and serve as architects of modern-day Russia.
Starring: Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, Joseph Quinn, Kevin R. McNally, Richard Roxburgh, Rory Kinnear, Gina McKee
Cherish The Day
Cherish The Day chronicles the relationship of one couple; each episode spanning a single day. The narrative unfolds to reveal significant moments in a relationship, from the extraordinary to the everyday. The full chapter spans five years within eight episodes.
Starring: Xosha Roquemore, Alano Miller, Cicely Tyson, Michael Beach
The darkly comic Irish murder mystery set during the Victorian era of the real-life practice of “post- mortem photography” follows memorial photographer Brock Blennerhasset (Michael Smiley) as he commemorates the recently deceased. Meanwhile a tenacious detective investigates a series of local murders and eyes possible disturbing connections between them and Brock.
Starring: Michael Smiley, Kerr Logan, Aidan O’Hare, Eileen O’Higgins, Martin Donovan
Defending Jacob unfolds around a shocking crime that rocks a small Massachusetts town and one family in particular, forcing an assistant district attorney to choose between his sworn duty to uphold justice and his unconditional love for his son.
Starring: Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery, Jaeden Martell, Betty Gabriel, Pablo Schreiber, Cherry Jones, Sakina Jaffrey, J.K. Simmons
A young software engineer, Lily Chan, investigates the secretive development division of her employer, a cutting-edge tech company based in Silicon Valley, which she believes is behind the murder of her boyfriend.
Starring: Nick Offerman, Sonoya Mizuno, Jin Ha, Zach Grenier, Karl Glusman, Jefferson Hall, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Cailee Spaeny, Alison Pill
Dispatches From Elsewhere
A series centered around four ordinary people who feel there is something missing in their lives; brought together by chance, they stumble into a puzzle hiding behind the veil of everyday life that opens their eyes to a new world of possibility.
Starring: Jason Segel, André Benjamin, Eve Lindley, Richard E. Grant, Sally Field
The Count Dracula legend transforms with new tales that flesh out the vampire’s gory crimes—and bring his vulnerability into the light.
Starring: Claes Bang, Dolly Wells, John Heffernan
Dublin Murders is a mystery series focusing on two murder investigations led by a pair of ambitious and charismatic detectives… Initially, the victims are seemingly unrelated, but as the cases progress we find a connection not only to Ireland’s past but the detectives’ as well.
Starring: Killian Scott, Sarah Greene
The owner of a Paris jazz club gets tangled up with dangerous criminals as he fights to protect his business, his band and his teenage daughter.
Starring: André Holland, Joanna Kulig, Tahar Rahim, Amandla Stenberg, Leïla Bekhti
Four Weddings And A Funeral
Maya, communications director for a New York senatorial campaign, receives a wedding invitation from her college schoolmate now living in London. She leaves her professional and personal life behind, in favor of traveling to England and reconnecting with old friends and ends up in the midst of their personal crises.
Starring: Nathalie Emmanuel, Nikesh Patel, Rebecca Rittenhouse, John Reynolds, Brandon Mychal Smith, Zoe Boyle, Sophia La Porta, Harish Patel, Guz Khan
In post-World War II Hollywood, an ambitious group of aspiring actors and filmmakers will do almost anything to make their showbiz dreams come true.
Starring: David Corenswet, Jeremy Pope, Patti LuPone, Darren Criss, Jim Parsons, Holland Taylor, Samara Weaving, Joe Mantello, Laura Harrier, Dylan McDermott, Rob Reiner, Mira Sorvino, Jake Picking, Michelle Krusiec
I Know This Much Is True
I Know This Much Is True is a family saga that follows the parallel lives of identical twin brothers in a story of betrayal, sacrifice and forgiveness set against the backdrop of 20th century America.
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Melissa Leo, Kathryn Hahn, Rosie O’Donnell, Archie Panjabi, John Procaccino, Phillip Ettinger, Marcello Fonte
Interrogation is a multi-linear, true-crime series based on a case that spans more than 20 years, in which a young man was charged and convicted of brutally murdering his mother. After being sentenced to life in prison, he continued to fight to prove his innocence.
Starring: Peter Sarsgaard, Kyle Gallner, David Strathairn, Kodi Smit-McPhee
Little Fires Everywhere
Little Fires Everywhere follows the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and a mother and daughter who upend their lives. The story explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, the ferocious pull of motherhood–and the danger in believing that following the rules can avert disaster.
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, Joshua Jackson, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jade Pettyjohn, Jordan Elsass, Gavin Lewis, Megan Stott, Lexi Underwood, Huang Lu
Looking For Alaska
Teenager Miles “Pudge” Halter enrolls in boarding school to try to gain a deeper perspective on life. He falls in love with Alaska Young, and finds a group of loyal friends. But after an unexpected tragedy, Miles and his friends attempt to make sense of what happened.
Starring: Charlie Plummer, Kristine Froseth, Denny Love, Jay Lee, Sofia Vassilieva, Landry Bender, Uriah Shelton, Jordan Connor, Timothy Simons, Ron Cephas Jones
The Loudest Voice
This seven-part limited series is about Roger Ailes, the founder of Fox News. It focuses on the past decade in which Ailes arguably became the Republican Party’s de facto leader, and the sexual harassment accusations that brought his career to an end.
Starring: Russell Crowe, Sienna Miller, Seth MacFarlane, Annabelle Wallis, Simon McBurney, Aleksa Palladino, Naomi Watts
Manhunt: Deadly Games
After a deadly terrorist attack at the 1996 Olympic Games, FBI agents hunt for an elusive serial bomber, Eric Rudolph, while a wrongly-accused innocent man, Richard Jewell, battles the FBI, the national news media, as well as his own inner demons, to prove his innocence and clear his name.
Starring: Cameron Britton, Jack Huston, Gethin Anthony, Carla Gugino, Arliss Howard, Kelly Jenrette, Judith Light
Miracle Workers: Dark Ages
Miracle Workers: Dark Ages goes back in time as a group of medieval villagers tries to stay positive in an age of extreme income inequality, poor healthcare and widespread ignorance.
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Steve Buscemi, Geraldine Viswanathan, Karan Soni, Jon Bass, Lolly Adefope
Mrs. America tells the story of the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and the unexpected backlash led by a conservative woman named Phyllis Schlafly, aka “the sweetheart of the silent majority.”
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne, Margo Martindale, Uzo Aduba, Elizabeth Banks, Tracey Ullman, Sarah Paulson, John Slattery, Jeanne Tripplehorn
Mrs. Fletcher (Kathryn Hahn) tells the story of an empty-nest divorcée who jump-starts her love life after her son leaves for college.
Starring: Kathryn Hahn, Jackson White
Normal People tracks the tender but complicated relationship of Marianne and Connell from the end of their school days in a small town in the west of Ireland to their undergraduate years at Trinity College.
Starring: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Paul Mescal
Our Boys is based on the true events which led to the outbreak of war in Gaza in 2014. The series follows the investigation of Muhammad Abu Khdeir’s murder, and tells the story of all those involved, Jews and Arabs alike, whose lives were forever changed by these events.
Starring: Shlomi Elkabetz, Jony Arbid, Ruba Blal Asfour, Noa Koler
The Pale Horse
A mysterious list of names is found in the shoes of a dead woman. What is the connection to the village of Much Deeping?
Starring: Rufus Sewell, Kaya Scodelaria, Georgina Campbell, Henry Lloyd-Hughes
The Plot Against America
A working-class Jewish family in New Jersey watches the political rise of aviator-hero and xenophobic populist Charles Lindbergh, as he becomes president and turns the nation toward fascism. Based on the novel of the same name.
Starring: Zoe Kazan, Morgan Spector, Anthony Boyle, John Turturro, Winona Ryder
This three-part limited series is based on the true story of Major Charles Ingram and his wife, Diana, who were accused of cheating their way to a million pounds on the world’s most popular game show in 2001, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
Starring: Matthew Macfadyen, Sian Clifford, Michael Sheen, Helen McCrory
Sacred Lies: The Singing Bones
Elsie searches for the family she never knew after being abandoned as a child. The search leads her to Peter, an inmate who may be guilty of more than he’s currently incarcerated for and Harper, a telemarketer turned arm-chair detective with an obsessive hobby of searching for unidentified murder victims.
Starring: Juliette Lewis, Ryan Kwanten, Jordan Alexander
Sanditon is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s unfinished final work set in a struggling seaside town aiming to be the next fashionable playground in early 19th century England. Rose Williams stars as Austen’s lively but levelheaded heroine. Theo James plays her smoldering romantic foil. Anne Reid, Kris Marshall, Crystal Clarke.
Starring: Rose Williams, Theo James, Anne Reid, Kris Marshall, Crystal Clarke, Kate Ashfield, Turlough Convery, Jack Fox, Alexandra Roach, Lily Sacofsky, Charlotte Spencer, Leo Suter
Self Made: Inspired By The Life Of Madam C.J. Walker
The true story of African American entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, who built a haircare empire that made her the first female self-made millionaire.
Starring: Octavia Spencer, Tiffany Haddish, Carmen Ejogo, Blair Underwood, Garrett Morris, Kevin Carroll
In the 1960s, Israeli clerk-turned-secret agent Eli Cohen (Sacha Baron Cohen) goes deep undercover inside Syria on a perilous, years-long mission to spy for Mossad.
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Hadar Ratzon Rotem, Noah Emmerich, Waleed Zuaiter
The Terror: Infamy
Set during World War II, The Terror: Infamy centers on bizarre deaths that haunt a Japanese-American community and a young man’s journey to understand and combat the malevolent entity responsible.
Starring: Derek Mio, Kiki Sukezane, Cristina Rodlo, Shingo Usami, Naoko Mori, Miki Ishikawa, George Takei
Too Old To Die Young
In one tragic night, L.A. Sheriff’s Deputy Martin Jones’s life is blown apart, and he is forced into a deadly underground of Cartel soldiers, Yakuza assassins, and mysterious vigilantes that lead to a surreal odyssey of murder, mysticism, and vengeance as his past sins close in on him.
Starring: Miles Teller, John Hawkes, Augusto Aguilera, Jena Malone
After a young woman is accused of lying about a rape, two female detectives investigate a spate of eerily similar attacks. Inspired by true events.
Starring: Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, Kaitlyn Dever, Eric Lange, Danielle Macdonald
A Hasidic Jewish woman in Brooklyn flees to Berlin from an arranged marriage and is taken in by a group of musicians — until her past comes calling.
Starring: Shira Haas, Amit Rahav, Jeff Wilbusch, Alex Reid
Set in a modern America where police officers conceal their identities behind masks, Watchmen envisions an alternate history that begins with the all too real Tulsa Massacre of 1921 as a young African-American boy is orphaned in the horrific event… then grows up to become the world’s very first “superhero.”
Starring: Regina King, Jeremy Irons
Years And Years
This epic saga takes an ordinary family, the Lyons, and catapults them through the next 15 years. They fall in and out of love, grow old, fall apart and come back together, while constantly looking forward.
Starring: Emma Thompson, Rory Kinnear, Russell Tovey, Anne Reid, Ruth Madeley, T’Nia Miller, Jessica Hynes, Maxim Baldry
ZeroZeroZero follows the journey of a cocaine shipment, from the moment a powerful cartel of Italian criminals decides to buy it until the cargo is delivered and paid for, passing through its packaging in Mexico and shipment across the Atlantic Ocean.
Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Dane DeHaan, Gabriel Byrne, Harold Torres, Giuseppe De Domenico, Adriano Chiaramida, Noé Hernández, Tchéky Karyo, Francesco Colella, Claudia Pineda
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