We all know about the trend in the Best Drama Actor Emmy category — the past nine winners have hailed from first-year or final-year shows — but there’s been another, quieter trend happening for the better half of the past decade in Best Limited Series that could continue this year with “Mrs. America.”
Since 2014, which was when limited series and TV movie were split into separate categories again, FX and HBO have swapped wins in limited series; the former has won in even-numbered years (“Fargo,” 2014; “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” 2016; “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” 2018), while the latter has triumphed in odd-numbered years (“Olive Kitteridge,” 2015; “Big Little Lies,” 2017; “Chernobyl,” 2019).
Are voters even aware this pattern has been going on? Most likely not, and there are, of course, numerous reasons why those aforementioned series prevailed those years, from quality and buzz to momentum and lack of competition. They just happened to be from those two networks in alternating years. What’s also notable about this trend is that FX had never won this category until “Fargo,” and its three wins are the third most of all time by a network.
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2020 is — news flash! — and even year, so that means it’s FX’s “turn” again. The network’s big player was supposed to be “Fargo,” whose long-awaited fourth season, starring Chris Rock, was scheduled to premiere April 19, but the show has been indefinitely delayed after shutting down production because of the coronavirus pandemic. “Fargo” won for its inaugural installment and was nominated for its second and third outings, losing to juggernauts “O.J.” and “Big Little Lies,” respectively, so there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t have been a contender again this cycle.
Luckily for FX, it had another limited series in the can, headlined by another bold-named star and an all-star ensemble cast. Starring Cate Blanchett as anti-ERA activist Phyllis Schlafly, “Mrs. America” offers a fascinating examination of the women’s rights movement and feminism through a controversial lead character, and how Schlafly’s actions and messaging echo in politics today. The series and Blanchett have earned raves, and this being an presidential election year could also work in its favor if voters respond to the moment. (“Mrs. America” is technically an FX on Hulu show, streaming under the service’s FX subsection as a result of Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox, but FX on Hulu programs are considered solely FX shows at the Emmys because Hulu is not part of the shows’ development.)
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“Mrs. America” is in third place in our odds, behind HBO’s “Watchmen” and Netflix’s “Unbelievable.” Netflix’s “Hollywood” is in fourth and Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere” rounds out the top five. (FX also has “Devs” and “American Horror Story: 1984” in contention, but they’re in 10th and 13th, respectively.)
If our odds are correct and “Watchmen” breaks the trend this year, it would also be a historic victory for HBO: That would give the network the all-time win record at 11; “Chernobyl’s” win last year tied it at 10 with NBC and PBS, while ABC is second with five.
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Be sure to make your Emmy nominations predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before the nominees are announced on July 28. And join in the thrilling debate over the Emmy Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.
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