Emmys 2020 predictions slugfest: Will ‘Defending Jacob,’ ‘Normal People,’ ‘Unorthodox’ break into Best Limited Series race? [WATCH]

The race for Best Limited Series at the upcoming Emmys has taken on a different shape with HBO pushing back the premiere dates of “The Third Day” and “The Undoing” to later this year. Also, the coronavirus pandemic forcing Nat Geo’s “Genius: Aretha” and FX’s “Fargo” to shut down production, taking them out of consideration for this year’s cycle. I recently joined Gold Derby contributors Riley Chow and Kevin Jacobsen to size up what both the Best Limited Series and TV Movie fields now look like (watch the video slugfest above).

HBO’s “Watchmen,” FX on Hulu’s “Mrs. America” and Netflix’s “Unbelievable” lead our odds for Best Limited Series, all three of which our panel considers safe bets to be nominated. A continuation of the DC comic book series of the same name with an all-too relevant racial subtext, “Watchmen” competed as a drama series at the winter awards, where it scored significant wins at the Directors Guild and Writers Guild Awards, but is looking to be an equally strong player as a limited series at the Emmys. With four Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe Awards noms apiece, plus citations at the Producers Guild Awards and WGA, “Unbelievable” had a similarly successful winter awards run. Although it aired back in September, Chow points out that it’s sustained its buzz until now, with Jacobsen adding that it’s “one of the most acclaimed limited series of the year.” Premiering in April, “Mrs. America,” which chronicles the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, is the only that can benefit from having aired in the heart of Emmy season.

Chow and Jacobsen are betting on Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere” and Netflix’s “Unorthodox” for their final two slots, both of which were released just when stay-at-home orders started being implemented due to the pandemic. While the former boasts the talents of past Emmy nominees Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon, the latter has “such good word of mouth,” as Chow puts it. Netflix’s “Hollywood” sits in my predictions, being the “comfort television” voters might currently fancy as the show takes an uplifting revisionist look at Hollywood’s Golden Age. It’s helmed by Ryan Murphy, who has dominated the limited series category of late, winning for both his “American Crime Story” installments in 2016 and ’18. Finally, I am putting my money on Apple TV+’s “Defending Jacob” for my final slot, which I liken to another accessible murder mystery that was shortlisted in this category: 2018’s “The Alienist.”

Over in Best TV Movie, we are all predicting Netflix’s “Breaking Bad” epilogue “El Camino,” stage-to-screen adaptation of “American Son” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” interactive special, as well as HBO’s critically acclaimed “Bad Education.” Although Chow is going for the Willem Dafoe-led “Togo” in his last spot, he warns to keep a sharp lookout for Lifetime’s audience hit “The Clark Sisters,” which Jacobsen pegs as a formidable player in this race. I am holding out hope for Amazon’s “Troop Zero,” which stars Mckenna Grace and features Emmy champs Allison Janney and Viola Davis in supporting roles.

Watch as we also consider “I Know This Much is True,” “Normal People,” “The Loudest Voice,” “The Plot Against America” and more in the limited series category, and try to predict the winner for Best TV Movie now that three-time reigning champ “Black Mirror” competes as a drama series.

PREDICT the 2020 Emmy nominees now; change through July 28

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