The so-called limited series has earned real cachet in recent years. The 2017 category, in fact, is one of the most competitive of the 69th annual Emmy Awards:
“Big Little Lies” (HBO) Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman’s fine performances will draw votes, but their famous names should as well. Meanwhile, David E. Kelley’s terrific screenplay — based on Liane Moriarty’s book of the same name — shouldn’t hurt the show’s chances either.
“Fargo” (FX) The third iteration of Noah Hawley’s brilliant Coen Brothers tribute was also the weakest of the three, but here it is anyway. As usual, that’s a testament to the performances (Ewan McGregor, Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Hawley’s writing. “Fargo” won for the first season but the third is a long shot.
“Feud: Bette and Joan” (FX) “Feud” was one of the greatest pleasures of the entire 2017 season, and would be an easy victor here save for one little challenge: Olivia de Havilland’s lawsuit against FX over her portrayal, which she said was “demeaning . . . unfair . . . untrue.” Will Emmy voters award “Feud” or side with a 101-year-old member of Hollywood royalty? They hate to make this sort of choice. The distraction will hurt “Feud.”
“Genius” (National Geographic) Here’s your dark horse and also quite possibly your winner. Here’s why: Fox (parent company of NatGeo) did a huge promotional push to get this first installment in its “Genius” anthology on the Emmy radar, and as HBO has proved year after year, promotion only helps. Star Geoffrey Rush (who played Einstein) also did what he always does — a brilliant job.
“The Night Of” (HBO) This was the obsession during the summer of 2016, and for valid reasons, namely a series of unforgettable performances (Riz Ahmed, John Turturro, Jeannie Berlin, Michael Kenneth Williams). The finale was a bit of a letdown — but then so was the finale of “Big Little Lies” — and Emmy voters have plenty of other episodes to consider.
“Feud.” Sorry, Ms. de Havilland, and with all due respect, but this series was a valentine and tribute to all the glorious stars (like yourself) who once made Hollywood great. Nothing can diminish de Havilland’s legend, nor take away her two Oscars. All “Feud” wanted to do was say “thank you.”
“Genius.” I’m going for the surprise element here, abetted by that considerable Fox promotional push. Besides, “Genius” is a no-brainer vote: Who doesn’t like Einstein or Rush?