The momentum and the edge in this category seems to be in the favor of HBO’s Olive Kitteridge this year and it is understandable as to why; It is a limited series that is primed and made to win awards. The limited series follows a woman who is incapable of happiness who lives a rural New England town and follows her life for twenty-five years, primarily exploring her relationship with both her husband and son during this time. This limited series left something to be desired, but one cannot deny that the direction was done with enough ambiguity to either despise or respect the series’ title character, its writing was consistent, and its acting was stellar. The expectation is that this limited series is going to sweep at this year’s Emmys, but one should not think this is a guarantee just yet. Case in point: This was the exact same expectation for HBO’s miniseries Mildred Pierce in 2011, but once the Emmy awards came around, it went in the wrong direction and lost practically all its nominations to Downton Abbey (Whose first season was intended to be a stand alone miniseries).
In the scenario that were to happen, there are a few directions the Emmy voters could veer towards. The more obvious one would be towards the historical drama Wolf Hall, which is an ideal candidate for Emmy voters. In the past ten years Band of Brothers, The Pacific, Elizabeth I, and John Adams, all historical dramas, have found themselves with wins for limited series. Wolf Hall was a stellar limited series adaptation of the historical novel with incredible detail to historical trends and dialogue. Additionally, Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis offered commendable performances that both wowed critics and fans while maintaining interest with the narrative of the limited series.
American Horror Story: Freak Show offered its best season yet in this anthology show by perfectly capturing the circus environment of the 1950s. However, AHS traditionally is nominated but fails to win anything outside of acting awards, as indicated by the last three seasons that have been nominated. The limited series is regarded highly enough by voters to nominate it, but it isn’t taken seriously enough to grab wins outside of the acting categories. The Honourable Woman seemed to have momentum going into the Emmy season, but fell short once the nominations were announced. Like AHS, the nomination for The Honourable Woman may be its reward, with Maggie Gyllenhaal winning for lead actress being the best chance this limited series has for taking home a win.
It also seems that American Crime is in the same predicament as The Honourable Woman and AHS, but of these three, it has the best chance of pulling off an upset. The racial court drama was a tense, sharply written limited series that challenged the topic of race relations without it being blatant and obvious storytelling. In fact, the ratings for American Crime did so well that its producers have decided to turn it into an anthology series in the same style as AHS (each season as a new storyline but recycles the same cast). American Crime’s primary disadvantage is that it failed to get a nomination for direction, but that doesn’t mean it is immediately out of contention. 2003’s The Lost Prince managed to grab a win for Best Miniseries without either a directing or writing nomination, thus being proof that Emmy snubs don’t necessarily mean a show has lost its chance of winning. American Crime is the one nominee in this category that could potentially achieve such an upset.
American Horror Story: Freak Show
The Honourable Woman
Will Win: Olive Kitteridge
Could Win: Wolf Hall
Should Win: American Horror Story: Freak Show
Could Upset: American Crime