Emmy Experts Typing: Will any late release break through in the wild limited categories?

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 reassess the unsettled limited series races.

Christopher Rosen: Hello, Joyce! If the first Monday in May is reserved for the Met Gala, I can only assume the first Friday in May is all about the 2023 limited series Emmy race. (Don’t worry, I didn’t pull a muscle on that stretch.) That classification is maybe the most chaotic of the main Emmys races this year — we’re long past the days of “The Queen’s Gambit” and “Mare of Easttown.” At the moment, according to our odds, “Monster,” “Black Bird,” “Beef,” “Fleishman Is in Trouble,” “White House Plumbers” and “Daisy Jones & the Six” make up the expected list of limited series nominees. Looking at that list, I’m left with one thought: Sure? I’m a flagship member of the “Fleishman” fan club — it was probably my favorite new show of 2022 — and “Daisy Jones” is a banger, but I’m not entirely sure if my passion extends to the academy’s tastes. As for the others: “Monster” is a blockbuster hit and makes sense, “Beef” has the Film Twitter buzz and reviews (the controversy around David Choe notwithstanding), and “White House Plumbers” debuted this week and just “feels” like a nominee even if the reception has merely been… fine. So what is perhaps a foolish move — at least certainly based on our odds — I went ahead and put “A Small Light” in there ahead of “White House Plumbers” due to its subject matter, reviews and seeming passion from people who have watched it. But I still have the other five represented despite not feeling all that confident in my faves “Fleishman” and “Daisy Jones,” meaning shows like “Love & Death,” “The Patient,” “George & Tammy” and “Swarm,” among others, are outside of my picks. I’m sure you’ve got a better handle on this one — or at least better predictions. Help me us out here, before we look at those wide-open acting races.

joyceeng: Not to sound like a broken record, but I still think/hope it will be five slots again so I don’t have to pick a sixth show. This is the softest the limited field has been with no consensus or a stone-cold frontrunner since 2018, when “The Alienist” snagged a spot (no shade). I just re-added “Obi-Wan Kenobi” for sheer visibility alone. It’s hardly a “Star Wars” stan’s fave or the best “Star Wars” series of the cycle (hi, “Andor”), but I think the detractors’ loudness has obscured the fact that it had a totally decent critical reception. It also won a guild award over the winter, for sound mixing, and got a DGA nomination — something neither “Monster” nor “Black Bird,” the predicted top two, received. “Obi-Wan” will also be a tech player, like “The Alienist” (it got six noms and won supporting visual effects), which could help push it over the line with everyone voting in the program categories. We’ll see how the rest of the month goes, but I’d be more confident about “A Small Light” had it dropped earlier. The restricted ballot would help it, but I can also see it snagging acting nominations and missing series if not enough people watch it in time. Ditto for “White House Plumbers,” which is not exactly shaping up to be HBO’s next May Monday hit a la “Chernobyl.” This is what happened to “The Staircase,” which premiered a year ago today and earned two nominations altogether, for Colin Firth and Toni Collette. Right now I have “White House Plumbers” getting three acting nominations but not series. The acting categories are equally nightmarish to try to fill out after the top two or three in each, which is how I’ve wound up with five “Beef” and five “Monster” performers. (These predictions are not sponsored by Netflix.) We need to send preemptive kudos to whoever nails both supporting categories.

SEE Experts slugfest: Is Sarah Snook the Best Drama Actress frontrunner for ‘Succession’?

Christopher Rosen: I’m not going to lie, I did think of putting Michael Learned into my supporting actress picks as well for “Monster” — if only because it does kind of feel like these acting categories will be loaded with performances from the few shows voters watched and liked. But as it stands, I’ve kept my “Monster” love to the four expected contenders. I’m with you on “Beef” though, as it seems quite likely both Ashley Park and Maria Bello will rate with voters alongside Steven Yeun, Ali Wong and Young Mazino. I also think “Black Bird” will grab multiple acting nominations, with Paul Walter Hauser, Taron Egerton and Ray Liotta making the cut. I’ve been rewatching that series in preparation for an upcoming interview and it’s so good I also started to wonder if Sepideh Moafi could land among the supporting actress nominees. She’s an absolute breakout and if “Black Bird” somehow sustains four acting nominations, I think she would be the choice over Greg Kinnear (who I know you had in there at one point). I’ll give you a couple of other supporting names to consider: Liev Schreiber for “A Small Light” and Jennifer Ehle for “Dead Ringers.” I’m not sold on “Dead Ringers” getting in for limited series, but I do think Rachel Weisz could straight win Best Actress and Ehle could come along for the ride as a nominee. What are you thinking in the lead acting races here?

joyceeng: “Dead Ringers” and “Swarm” feel like sole actress plays to me, and as I’ve mentioned, the former is a tough sit, so I can see lots of viewers bailing. I have thought about plugging in Schreiber. The erstwhile Ray Donovan is a perennial nominee (nine noms, zero wins) and would be an easy name-check. I did have Kinnear and Liotta way back in the B.B. (Before “Beef”) days as placeholders, but I’m not sure “Black Bird” is strong enough to support noms outside of Egerton and PWH. It underperformed in the winter, and while it’s a solid show, it doesn’t feel like it has generated a ton of passion. I’ve made no changes to my lead lineups, which means they are definitely wrong. I still have our “Beef” duo in first by virtue of them having the strongest show. Twitter will have you believe that the Choe controversy and the “Beef” team’s subsequent statement nuked all of their chances of even getting in, but the internet is an echo chamber and the show is one of the few that continues to be raved by Famous People. The consensus is that lead actress is Jessica Chastain‘s to lose since she won SAG, and lots of people have likened her possible win to her Oscar run — a “default” victory in a weak year — but she hasn’t faced any of the spring contenders yet and the only potential Emmy rival she beat at SAG was Emily Blunt. We’ll get a better idea of who’s win-competitive after noms, but she could end up as a lone nominee for “George & Tammy” or its only above-the-line nomination. Last year, I doubt many people had Lily James as the runner-up to Amanda Seyfried in Phase 1, but most of us — not you! — did in Phase 2 after “Pam & Tommy” surprised with 10 noms, including series, and “Maid” was snubbed in series, and obviously Chastain missed too. It’s been three weeks since you pulled your trademark flip-flop on “The Last Thing He Told Me” and immediately slotted in Jennifer Garner, as you’re wont to do. Do you still have her? Or have you moved on to another about-face fave?

SEE Emmy Experts Typing: Can Sarah Snook win in lead?

Christopher Rosen: You’ll be shocked to know I have abandoned ship on Garner. It’s hard to know what release schedule is right nowadays for any given show, but it does feel like “The Last Thing He Told Me” would’ve greatly benefited from an all-episodes drop rather than its slow rollout — the stronger episodes are in the back of the season and I do wonder if the simplicity of the mystery is enough to hold viewers’ attention across many weeks. Besides, I have to fill out actress field with my other two about-face faves: Bel Powley for “A Small Light” and Sydney Sweeney for “Reality.” I’ve fallen into the trap before of picking a TV movie performer in the limited series acting category — see Ben Foster for last year’s HBO movie “The Survivor” — but this time I feel like it’ll happen! “Reality” is really quite good: It’s a real-time thriller that uses the real-life transcripts of Reality Winner’s arrest to create a legitimately tense drama. Sweeney is remarkable here — a totally different performance than either of her Emmy-nominated turns last year for “Euphoria” and “The White Lotus.” She’s able to generate such empathy and mystery with Reality Winner and I think if people watch this one — with Sweeney as the star and an advantageous running time of barely 90 minutes, they probably will — she’ll get in. I know, I know. I can hear you laughing at me, so I’ll leave you to finish this off with one last question: If not Yeun, then who might win?

joyceeng: The only shocking thing about you adding Sweeney now is that you didn’t have her in the place. If you don’t have Yeun in first, then you probably have Evan Peters. His SAG loss to Sam Elliott was a red flag, but it could also be a fluke: We know SAG-AFTRA loves veterans and the “Yellowstone” (RIP) universe. Emmy voters have different tastes and they didn’t touch “1883” last year outside of three craft nominations. It’d be wild, but not undeserved, if Peters were to win his second Emmy only two years later after waiting so long just to be nominated. If he does win, I hope his third Emmy will be for the “Mare of Easttown” prequel spin-off in my head: “Zabel of Upper Darby.”

Emmy odds for Best Limited Series
Who will be nominated?

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