Emmy Predictions: Best Limited or Anthology Series – ‘Mare’, ‘Queen’s Gambit’ and ‘WandaVision’ In a Race That’s Too Close to Call

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Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Emmys ceremonies from film awards editor Clayton Davis. Following history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Emmy predictions are updated regularly with the current year's list of contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. The eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and is subject to change.

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UPDATED: Aug 19, 2021

AWARDS PREDICTION COMMENTARY: Can’t be certain but don’t think too many pundits and predictors had Disney Plus’ fantastical “WandaVision will lead the field for all limited series” on their bingo cards. 23 nominations, which is the second most overall of any series, should not be taken lightly. If the analysis of industry insiders is to be believed that voters are looking for more positive, enjoyable popcorn flair, they could do much worse than the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s crowning achievement.

After winning big at the Critics Choice, Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild (even though they don’t have a prize for top limited series, but star Anya Taylor-Joy won), making the final stop of its awards trajectory, the critical sensation “The Queen’s Gambit” nabbed a whopping 18 nominations. All the momentum it received on the circuit, despite three of the other four nominees not being present, has to count for something and add in the support from the guilds. Finally, Netflix could put this one in the bag for what could be a very golden evening.

Kate Winslet Mare of Easttown
Kate Winslet Mare of Easttown

Picking up an impressive 16 Emmy nominations, “Mare of Easttown” was the talk of social media water coolers when we couldn’t discuss in person. What’s helping the narrative the chances for a win is that in five categories –lead actress (Kate Winslet), supporting actress (Julianne Nicholson), directing (Craig Zobel), writing (Brad Inglesby) and casting (Avy Kaufman) – it’s heavily contending and arguably in the top two spots of those races. When you’re a 50/50 type of contender, which could expand into multiple wins and an excellent night for HBO. Watch out for “Mare” to get her happy ending.

With eight nominations, Michaela Coel’s critical powerhouse “I May Destroy You” survived a long road to nomination ballots. But, now that the field has narrowed can HBO juggle two contenders equally and smartly? Similar to an issue assumed for “The Underground Railroad,” we can’t be certain how many voters actually gave it the proper time and dedication it deserved, which could explain its minimal showing across the board. The good news is that TV Academy members love to vote down the line on their final winner’s ballots. If they check off Coel in lead actress and possibly writing and directing, this becomes an easier outcome to foresee.

If anyone heard loud cries and audible sobs on Emmy nomination morning, it was a large contingency of devoted followers of Barry Jenkins learning that his masterpiece adaptation of Colton Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” only managed seven mentions when it should have easily co-lead the entire field. The hurdles are significantly being the least nominated of the field but often always the case with television and art pieces with the difficult subject matter. If enough voters watch it, it’s hard to believe it doesn’t get their votes. If it loses, it just shows the math was not on its side. Maybe a consolation win for Jenkins in director could be in the cards.

The viewing platform for Emmy nominees opens on Aug. 13, with final-round voting, beginning on Aug. 19 at 9:00 am PT until Aug. 30 at 10:00 pm PT.

Check out the full rankings of the category’s nominees in the chart below.


Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff on “WandaVision” - Credit: Courtesy of Marvel Studios
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff on “WandaVision” - Credit: Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Courtesy of Marvel Studios

AWARDS CATEGORY HISTORY (Limited or Anthology Series)

The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known simply as the Emmys, is television's most prestigious artistic award. There are many records held for both wins and nominations in the near eight decades.

This category has continually undergone rule changes and inceptions over the years, making it misleading to account for significant historical wins and nominations. "Prime Suspect" has the most wins in this category with three, while "American Crime Story" is right behind with two. The former also has the most nominations for a continuing series with five, while "American Horror Story" is close behind with four.

Since the beginning of this category in 1973, HBO has the most wins in this category with 11, with NBC and PBS close behind with 10. No streaming platform has yet to win this category.

2021 Primetime Emmy Awards Predictions

About the Primetime Emmy Awards (Emmys)

The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known as the Emmys, is given out by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). Since 1949, the awards recognize excellence in American primetime television programming. They are divided into three classes - Primetime Emmy Awards, the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards (honors artisan achievements) and the Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards (recognizes significant engineering and technological contributions). The typical eligibility period is between June 1 and May 31 of any given year. The Television Academy comprises over 25,000 members, representing 30 professional peer groups, including performers, directors, producers, art directors and various artisans and executives.

  • The 73rd Emmy Awards are scheduled to air on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8:00 pm est on CBS and on-demand on sister streamer Paramount Plus.

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