All 22,000 plus voting members of the TV academy have until June 28 to cast their 2021 Emmy Awards nominations ballots for programs (save for animated, documentary, and reality, 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. Four years ago that cap (which was usually 10 per category) was lifted.
While the comedy and drama series ballots have each maintained an average of over 100 entrants in recent years, there have nearly always been fewer than 40 choices in the limited series genre. There are 37 shows on the list this year, which is down by four from last year. There were 35 in 2019, 33 in 2018, and 25 in 2017. Five series from the list below will make the cut and be announced as Emmy nominees on July 13.
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.
Behind Her Eyes
A single mother enters a world of twisted mind games when she begins an affair with her psychiatrist boss while secretly befriending his mysterious wife.
Starring: Tom Bateman, Simona Brown, Robert Aramayo, Eve Hewson
Black Narcissus is based on the novel by Rumer Godden. Mopu, Himalayas, 1934. A remote clifftop palace once known as the ‘House of Women’ holds many dark secrets.
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Alessandro Nivola, Aisling Franciosi, Diana Rigg, Jim Broadbent, Rosie Cavaliero, Karen Bryson, Patsy Ferran, Nila Aalia, Kulvinder Ghir, Chaneil Kular, Dipika Kunwar, Gina McKee, Soumil Malla, Gianni Gonsalves
The Comey Rule
This two-part series tells the story of two powerful men, James Comey and Donald J. Trump, whose strikingly different personalities, ethics and loyalties put them on a collision course.
Starring: Jeff Daniels, Brendan Gleeson, Holly Hunter, Michael Kelly
After 32 years as a border patrol agent, Ben Clemens is forced to work for the people he spent his career trying to keep out of America. Exposed to life on the other side of the wall, Ben questions his views of the world, challenging his ideology and his loyalties.
Starring: Michael Chiklis
Creepshow is an anthology series based on the1982 horror comedy. A comic book comes to life in a series of vignettes, exploring terrors ranging from murder, creatures, monsters, and delusions to the supernatural and unexplainable.
Starring: Kevin Dillon, Ted Raimi, Ali Larter, C. Thomas Howell, Iman Benson, Josh McDermitt, Ashley Laurence, Keith David, Ryan Kwanten, Breckin Meyer, Molly Ringwald, Eric Edelstein, Barbara Crampton, Denise Crosby, Justin Long, D’Arcy Carden
Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story
Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story is based on a true tale of love gone wrong — a story that spans the 1960s to the ’80s, through the breakdown of a marriage that Oprah deemed one of “America’s messiest divorces” even before it ended in double homicide.
Starring: Amanda Peet, Christian Slater, Rachel Keller
In 1950 Kansas City, two crime syndicates jockey to control an alternate economy of exploitation, graft and drugs while fighting for a piece of the American dream. As tensions rise, the crime heads trade their youngest sons in an attempt to strike an uneasy peace.
Starring: Chris Rock, Jason Schwartzman, Jessie Buckley, E’Myri Crutchfield
Genius: Aretha, starring Cynthia Erivo, explores Aretha Franklin’s musical genius, her incomparable career, and the immeasurable impact she has had on music and culture.
Starring: Cynthia Erivo, Courtney B. Vance, Malcolm Barrett, David Cross, Shaian Jordan, Patrice Covington, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Kimberly Hebert Gregory
The Girlfriend Experience
Set amidst the London tech scene, neuroscience major Iris explores the transactional world of The Girlfriend Experience. She quickly learns that her client sessions provide her with a compelling edge in the tech world. Iris begins to question whether her actions are driven by free will, or something else altogether.
Starring: Julia Goldani Telles
The Good Lord Bird
The Good Lord Bird is based on the novel by James McBride. Starring Ethan Hawke as controversial abolitionist John Brown, this is a tale of Antebellum America and the ever-changing roles of race, religion and gender in American society.
Starring: Ethan Hawke as John Brown
Five students at the largest public high school in Brooklyn take on a chaotic world as they fight to succeed, survive, break free and seize the future.
Starring: Odessa A’Zion, Maliq Johnson, Amir Bageria, Odley Jean, Amalia Yoo
His name built an empire. His style defined an era. American fashion designer Halston skyrockets to fame before his life starts to spin out of control.
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Rory Culkin, Sullivan Jones, Gian Franco Rodriguez, David Pittu, Bill Pullman, Krysta Rodriguez, Rebecca Dayan, Kelly Bishop
The Haunting Of Bly Manor
Dead doesn’t mean gone. An au pair plunges into an abyss of chilling secrets in this gothic romance.
Starring: Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Victoria Pedretti, Rahul Kohli, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Henry Thomas, T’Nia Miller, Tahirah Sharif, Amelie Bea Smith, Kate Siegel, Amelia Eve, Carla Gugino, Katie Parker
I May Destroy You
A look at the modern dating landscape and where, in the age of instant gratification, the distinction between sexual liberation and exploitation lies. When she’s spiked with a date-rape drug, Arabella (Michaela Coel) reassesses every aspect of her life: her career, her friends, and even her family.
Starring: Michaela Coel
Into The Dark
Into The Dark is a monthly horror event series. Each feature-length installment is inspired by a holiday and features a genre/thriller spin on the story.
Starring: Judy Greer, Steve Guttenberg, Maria Conchita Alonso, McKinley Freeman, Ellen Wong
It’s A Sin
This poignant drama series charts the thrilling and emotional journey of a tight-knit group of friends living in London during the 1980’s, a decade forever changed by the AIDS crisis.
Starring: Olly Alexander, Lydia West, Omari Douglas, Nathaniel Curtis, Callum Scott Howells, Neil Patrick Harris, Keeley Hawes
A diverse, deeply brave crew of ragtag soldiers become some of the most heroic fighters of the European invasion in World War II. Based on true events.
Starring: Bradley James, Martin Sensmeier, Jose Miguel Vasquez
Mare Of Easttown
As her life crumbles around her, a small-town Pennsylvania detective Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet) investigates a local murder. The series explores the dark side of a close community and examines how family and past tragedies can define our present.
Starring: Kate Winslet, Jean Smart, Evan Peters, David Denman, Julianne Nicholson
Encounters with mermaids, fallen angels, and other strange beasts drive broken people to desperate acts in Monsterland, an anthology series based on the collection of stories from Nathan Ballingrud’s North American Lake Monsters.
Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Jonathan Tucker, Charlie Tahan, Nicole Beharie, Hamish Linklater, Marquis Rodriguez, Bill Camp, Michael Hsu Rosen, Taylor Schilling, Roberta Colindrez, Adria Arjona, Trieu Tran, Kelly Marie Tran, Mike Colter, Adepero Oduye
The Pembrokeshire Murders
True crime drama Pembrokeshire Murders brings to life the extraordinary cold-case pursuit of the most notorious serial killer in Welsh history.
Starring: Luke Evans
The Queen’s Gambit
In a 1950s orphanage, a young girl reveals an astonishing talent for chess and begins an unlikely journey to stardom while grappling with addiction.
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Bill Camp, Marielle Heller, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Harry Melling, Moses Ingram, Isla Johnston
Ambition knows no bounds, nor does corruption in a political thriller starring Hugh Laurie as a scheming U.K. government minister. Crime may not pay, but politics sure does.
Starring: Hugh Laurie, Helen McCrory, Sarah Greene, Saskia Reeves, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ophelia Lovibond, Millie Brady, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Pip Torrens, Iain de Caestecker, Patricia Hodge, Sylvestra le Touzel, Olivia Vinall
The unique tales of motley characters searching for connection and meaning inside an unremarkable American motel room. This anthology series tells the tale of a ’90s family unwittingly trapped inside Room 104’s walls; a long-lost musician’s return from obscurity; a former pro wrestler attempting to mine repressed memories; and more.
Starring: Starring Mark Duplass, Dave Bautista, Kevin Nealon, Gary Cole, Jillian Bell, Melissa Fumero, etc.
The Small Axe anthology series comprises five original films set from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s. The films each tell a different story involving London’s West Indian community, whose lives have been shaped by their own force of will, despite rampant racism and discrimination.
Starring: Letitia Wright, Shaun Parkes, Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn, Micheal Ward, John Boyega, Steve Toussaint, Sheyi Cole, Robbie Gee, Kenyah Sandy, Sharlene Whyte
Solos is a seven-part anthology series exploring the truths of what it means to be human – in the past, present, and future. Each episode illuminates that even in our most isolated moments, we are all connected through the human experience.
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Helen Mirren, Uzo Aduba, Nicole Beharie, Anthony Mackie, Dan Stevens, Constance Wu
Soulmates is set fifteen years into the future, when science has made a discovery – a test that tells you who your soulmate is. Each episode explores a new story around discovering the results of the test and the impact on relationships.
Starring: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Malin Akerman, Shamier Anderson, Betsy Brandt, Georgina Campbell, Sonya Cassidy, Laia Costa, David Costabile, JJ Feild, Charlie Heaton, Tom Goodman-Hill, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Bill Skarsgard, Sarah Snook
The Stand is Stephen King’s apocalyptic vision of a world decimated by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil. The fate of mankind rests on the shoulders of Mother Abagail and a handful of survivors. Their worst nightmares are embodied in Randall Flagg, the Dark Man.
Starring: James Marsden, Alexander Skarsgärd, Whoopi Goldberg, Odessa Young, Amber Heard, Jovan Adepo, Owen Teague, Greg Kinnear, Brad William Henke
A Teacher explores the complexities and consequences of a predatory relationship between Claire Wilson, a young teacher at a suburban Texas high school and her student, Eric Walker.
Starring: Kate Mara, Nick Robinson
Terror Lake Drive
In the midst of a recent pandemic and calls for social distancing, a single mother sets her sights on starting a new life and relocates to Atlanta, but quickly discovers she can’t outrun her past.
Starring: Donielle Hansley, Shannon Kane
The 1950s-set first season centers on a Black family who moves from North Carolina to an all-white Los Angeles neighborhood during the period known as The Great Migration. The family’s idyllic home becomes ground zero where malevolent forces, next-door and otherworldly, threaten to taunt, ravage and destroy them.
Starring: Deborah Ayorinde, Ashley Thomas, Alison Pill, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Melody Hurd, Ryan Kwanten
The Third Day
Sam (Jude Law) rescues a troubled girl and takes her home to Osea Island, where inhabitants prepare for an annual festival and are involved in strange, secretive rituals. Sam can’t escape. Then, Helen (Naomie Harris) comes to Osea seeking answers, but she precipitates a fractious battle to decide its fate.
Starring: Jude Law, Naomie Harris
The Twilight Zone
The series’ second season uses introspection and self-exploration to usher viewers into a dimension filled with endless possibilities.
Starring: Jimmi Simpson, Jurnee Smollett, Billy Porter, Gretchen Mol, Gil Bellows, Ethan Embry, Morena Baccarin, Tony Hale, Joel McHale, Christopher Meloni, Jenna Elfman, Damon Wayans Jr., David Krumholtz, Topher Grace, Kylie Bunbury
Two Sentence Horror Stories
Two Sentence Horror Stories is a horror anthology series. Each standalone story taps into the world of the horror genre, pressing universal primal fears filtered through the anxieties of the most connected and racially diverse generation.
Starring: Sabryn Rock, Marci T. House, Duncan Ollerenshaw, Sunita Prasad, Tyler Johnston, Leanne Lapp, James Goldman, Janet Kidder, David Lewis, Bzhaun Rhoden, Doralynn Mui, Keeya King, Rob Labelle, Lou Ticzon, Emily Tennant, David Lennon, Kevin Alves, Nicole Munoz, Albert Nicholas, Chiara Guzzo, Christin Park, Laura Mennell, Isla Sunar, Michelle Arvizu, Carlos Albornoz, Martyne Musau, Nicole Nwokolo, Joel Oulette, Christie Burke, Brian Cyburt, Steve Bacic
The Underground Railroad
Based on the novel by Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad chronicles Cora Randall’s desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. After escaping a Georgia plantation for the rumored Underground Railroad, Cora discovers no mere metaphor, but an actual railroad beneath the Southern soil.
Starring: Thuso Mbedu, Chase W. Dillon, Joel Edgerton, Sheila Atim, Aaron Pierre, William Jackson Harper, Lily Rabe
The Frasers seem to be a perfect, loving and well-to-do family, but overnight a chasm opens in Grace’s life: a violent murder, a missing husband, and in the place of a man Grace thought she knew, only a chain of terrible revelations.
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Donald Sutherland
After losing her love Vision, Wanda Maximoff undergoes a dissociative event and creates a world where he is alive and they can start a family. Fueled by Wanda’s comfort in sitcoms, her TV reality embodies an ever manageable suburban existence, but when Wanda’s denial is challenged, so is the reality.
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris, Kat Dennings, Randall Park, Evan Peters, Debra Jo Rupp, Josh Stamberg, Julian Hilliard, Jett Klyne, Emma Caulfield Ford, David Payton, Asif Ali, Jolene Purdy, David Lengel
Bryan Cranston stars as a judge confronting his deepest convictions when his son is involved in a hit and run that embroils an organized crime family. He faces a series of impossible choices and discovers how far a father will go to save his son’s life.
Starring: Bryan Cranston
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