If I Had an Emmy Ballot: Longform Writing, Directing, and Series

Emmy voting has just completed. Over the next few weeks, I'll be laying out who I hope gets nominated in the drama, comedy, and limited series categories in this space, looking specifically at achievements in acting, writing, and directing. Below are my six personal picks for Outstanding Limited Series, Writing for a Limited Series or TV Movie, and Directing for a Limited Series or TV Movie, with my preferred winner in bold.


Outstanding Limited Series

  1. Big Little Lies — HBO
  2. American Crime — ABC
  3. Black Mirror — Netflix
  4. National Treasure — Hulu
  5. Feud: Bette and Joan — FX
    (alt: Fargo — FX)

HBO’s marketing for Big Little Lies left much to be desired, but by the time the seven-episode limited drama had wrapped, it was one of the best things I’d seen all TV season. That remains the case, and it pretty easily tops my list. That’s no slight to American Crime, which went out in style with a staggeringly ambitious (if not quite as cohesive) third and final season, or Black Mirror, which in its transition to Netflix still pulled off a few miracle feature-length episodes. I was mixed-to-positive on both Feud and Fargo—both FX productions ended much stronger than they began, hence their mention—but I hope voters didn’t sleep on National Treasure. It’s a rich, surprising, layered Cosby allegory with some towering performances at its center. (Hulu didn’t end up submitting it, so don’t expect any nominations, but it’s still worth a mention here.)


There wasn’t a whole lot to recognize beyond these six shows—When We Rise and Shots Fired were particular creative disappointments—unless, of course, you felt The Night Of maintained itself through to the end. I did not, but made sure to recognize its gorgeous debut episode, essentially a standalone entity, in the directing field.    

Longform Writing

  • Charlie Brooker & Rashida Jones & Mike Schur for “Nosedive,” Black Mirror
  • Charlie Brooker for “San Junipero,” Black Mirror
  • Julie Hébert for “Season Three: Episode Eight,” American Crime
  • David E. Kelley, Big Little Lies
  • Ryan Murphy for “And the Winner Is…,” Feud: Bette and Joan 
  • Jack Thorne, National Treasure

Longform Directing

  • John Cameron for “The Law of Non-Contradiction,” Fargo
  • Owen Harris for “San Junipero,” Black Mirror
  • Victoria Mahoney for “Season Three: Episode 3,” American Crime
  • Jean-Marc Vallée, Big Little Lies 
  • Joe Wright for “Nosedive,” Black Mirror
  • Steve Zaillian for “The Beach,” The Night Of

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