Emmy Experts Typing: Limited Series battle between 2021 and 2022 shows

Welcome to Emmy Experts Typing, a weekly column in which Gold Derby editors and Experts Joyce Eng and Christopher Rosen discuss the Emmy race — via Slack, of course. This week, we look at the still chaotic limited series race.

Christopher Rosen: Hello, Joyce! We’re back to typing and about one of your favorite categories: the best and brightest of limited series, or as I like to think of it “movies, but longer.” One of your dearest shows “Under the Banner of Heaven” wrapped up this week and I know you’re bullish on its chances here. But I remain somewhat unconvinced and have focused my attention on two relative long shots if you go by our Gold Derby odds: “WeCrashed” and “1883.” You know what I think about “WeCrashed,” a series that I found completely engrossing and hilarious — and one that has stuck with me more than any of the other Silicon Valley stories we watched this spring. That’s not to say “The Dropout” and “Super Pumped” weren’t great either (yes, I still love “Super Pumped,” a peak bit of Gen X content if I ever saw one), but “WeCrashed” and its nuanced approach really felt different from the herd. It helps too that both Jared Leto and especially Anne Hathaway remain two of my favorite performances of the year (I have both of them in, naturally). As for “1883,” what can I say? Not only is the “Yellowstone” brand of Taylor Sheridan‘s Cinematic Universe very strong but it feels like Paramount has gone the extra mile with the prequel series, putting the cast — particularly Faith Hill and Isabel May — out there on the campaign trail. I have both of those actresses in as well, of course (and I haven’t even talked to them!). But what about you, Joyce? Where are you in this category and how long will it take for you to mention “Chip ‘n Dale” while we’re here?

joyceeng: Let’s get it over with right now: “Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers” for Best TV Movie or bust. Limited is a mess and the only thing I feel relatively good about is that “Dopesick,” “Maid” and “The White Lotus” will make it in by virtue of having aired last year when the landscape was far emptier and they weren’t battling 305,719 other shows for eyeballs. If they were all airing during the spring bottleneck, I’d say draw names out of a hat to make your series lineup. None of them dominated the winter awards since they faced stronger, passion-backed shows from the last Emmy cycle, but they all have their supporters (I’ll pause here to say that had “The Underground Railroad” premiered in the fall it could be the Emmy favorite right now). I think that’s the thing: Nothing has broken out in a huge way and every contender here will have pockets of support, but they’re all probably small because there are too many shows and not enough time to watch them all. Yes, I still have “Under the Banner of Heaven” — whose 90-minute finale is like an eighth of this entire “Stranger Things” season — in first, but as I mentioned last week, it’s just a placeholder. Everyone I know who’s seen it, which is not a lot, likes it, and, like “1883,” it’s different from a lot of shows in the running. Its trajectory reminds me of another FX limited series that you could only watch on Hulu starring an Oscar nominee/winner: “Mrs. America.” High expectations for both, but neither was a massive smash. “Mrs. America” still got 10 nominations and a win for Emmy fave Uzo Aduba. I am not saying “Under the Banner of Heaven” will win anything, but a lot of these categories are very open. You were (still are?) on a high from your “Conversations with Friends” conversations and yet you’re ghosting it?

SEE Emmy Experts Typing: Will ‘Stranger Things’ turn the race upside down?

Christopher Rosen: “Conversations with Friends,” to quote another one of our shared favorites, feels three dots from stardom at this point. I really enjoyed the show and was captivated by its performances. But unsurprisingly, based on the series’ tone and style, the response has been relatively muted. I fear that with a lineup this crowded and with so many nosy productions with massive stars, this little chamber piece — an indie movie limited series? — could find itself left on read. I too have “Dopesick,” “Maid,” and “The White Lotus” in here and I’ve found myself wondering if maybe one of those shows just ends up taking the top prize — specifically “Maid.” It’s the only top contender here on Netflix, which won last year for “The Queen’s Gambit.” “Maid” isn’t that show, of course, but it does have the biggest reach, a top acting nominee waiting to happen in Margaret Qualley, and has stuck around while some of the flashier contenders scuffled. Do you think “Maid” is set to clean up, or will “The White Lotus” rise like a phoenix — especially now that it could have three Best Supporting Actress nominees with “Hawkeye” switching off to comedy?

joyceeng: Lbr, Florence Pugh was always a hopediction in this wide-open category, but obviously this means less competition for everyone. The unlimited ballot makes it easier for coattails to happen in all the supporting categories — or really anyone from a highly visible and watched project that voters like (as we discussed on Tuesday — not Monday — they filled out last year’s limited supporting categories with “Hamilton” folks). That’s a long way of saying I do have three “White Lotus” ladies in. “Maid” winning would not shock me because it’s the most sympathetic series here. It’s an empathetic portrait of poverty, a topic already underserved in media, with a rootable lead. A lot of these shows are about (real) terrible people who’ve done terrible things. Although, I will say that one of my friends did not finish “Maid” because she found it too long (it definitely c/should’ve shaved a few episodes and runtimes) and obviously knew it had a happy ending IRL, so she stopped and moved on. My entire supporting actress lineup is just stars from “The White Lotus,” “Maid” and “Dopesick” because I slotted in Rosario Dawson the other day, but as I’m making the case for “Maid,” I’m wondering if I should replace her with Anika Noni Rose, who has a killer episode. Can this whole category be stuck in 2021?

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Christopher Rosen: Honestly, maybe. Here’s why: Without a “Mare of Easttown”-type phenom, there are probably pockets of fans for each of the series we’ve discussed — plus a dozen more. That makes me think a show like “Maid,” which has a set group of supporters from 2021 that remain likely enamored or affectionate toward the show, could still stand above the fray. Everyone watched and liked “Maid,” most people probably watched some of these other shows. So, I don’t know! I don’t have “Maid” in first yet, but I could see pushing it there by the end. Or maybe I’m sleeping on the high thread count sheets of “The White Lotus”?

joyceeng: I would put “Dopesick” ahead of “The White Lotus,” not just because it’s the actual odds-on favorite. Like “Maid,” it’s about a real crisis, the opioid epidemic, and while I don’t think all of its timeline shenanigans worked, it’s hard to ignore the emotional impact of Michael Keaton’s and Kaitlyn Dever’s performances. I’m not sure the performances in “The White Lotus,” while good, land in the same way. Keaton is like Jean Smart: They both feel stronger than their respective shows and can win without them taking the top prizes. But if you’re an actor voting for Keaton or a non-acting branch member who’s a stan and was moved by his speeches in the winter but are lukewarm on all the limited series, maybe you’ll just check off “Dopesick” too. The power of Batman.

Emmy odds for Best Limited Series
What will win?

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