It’s fitting that Netflix released the sixth season of “Black Mirror” on June 15, the same day Emmy voting began. The series isn’t eligible for this year’s awards, of course, but it’s been a dominant force at the Emmys for years, even sparking a rule change affecting other anthology shows this year.
And because of that rule change, it’s going to be a lot harder for any of those other shows, including “Documentary Now!” and “Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities,” to be nominated for an Emmy this year.
First, a little history. Created by Charlie Brooker and first broadcast in 2011, “Black Mirror” was inspired by the classic 1950s and 1960s series “The Twlight Zone,” in which Rod Serling used each episode to tell a different story, usually creepy or scary, usually with a twist, always with a moral. Back then, anthology series were a mainstay on television and were generally lumped together in the mainstream drama series category, where they usually won. “The Twlight Zone” never did, but other anthologies like “Playhouse 90,” “The United States Steel Hour,” “Producers Showcase,” and “Hallmark Hall of Fame” all took home Emmys.
Over the years, however, anthology series became less common, and at the time of “Black Mirror,” the Television Academy wasn’t really sure what to make of it. So the Academy allowed anthologies to enter individual episodes in the Best Made for Television Movie category, where “Black Mirror” cleaned up. He won for his episode “San Junipero” in 2017, for “USS Callister” in 2018, and for “Bandersnatch” in 2019, along with five other wins in other categories.
The Academy then changed its mind and moved the anthology series to the category of Outstanding Limited Series, which was renamed Outstanding Limited Series or Anthology Series in 2021. Since limited series are usually an extremely competitive category and series of anthology are a rare breed, no anthology has earned a nomination in the category since.
We won’t know if “Black Mirror” breaks the losing streak until next year, but in the meantime, a handful of anthology series are on the Emmy ballot where they’ll take on “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.” ”, “Beef”, “Black Bird”, “A Small Light”, “Daisy Jones & the Six”, “Fleishman is in trouble”, “Tiny Beautiful Things”, “Love & Death”, “Dead Ringers”, “ George and Tammy” and much more.
Do anthologies have a good chance of pulling off a “Black Mirror” and ending up in the Top 5? It won’t be easy, even for the series that has been nominated in different categories multiple times and the one that should get some below-the-line nominations.
This is the roundup of anthology series that are among the 61 programs that qualify in the Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series category.
Michael Chiklis, Abigail Breslin, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Jason Ritter and Keith Carradine are among the stars of this 15-episode series created by “24” and “Homeland” veteran Howard Gordon. Each episode explores a different crime story with a new cast in a new city, with stories told from the perspective of the defendants in the trials. Directors include Marlee Matlin, Billy Porter, and Chiklis.
“American Horror Stories” (Effects on Hulu)
The lesser-known sibling of Ryan Murphy’s “American Horror Story” series, “American Horror Stories” is, as its title suggests, an anthology series that tells a new story every episode rather than every season. The cast, which changes from week to week, has included Gabourey Sidibe, Max Greenfield, Bella Thorne, Judith Light, Quvenzhane Wallis and Alicia Silverstone. The second season includes witches, necrophilia, zombies, and a smart doorbell camera that can see ghosts.
“Documentary Now!” (IFC)
The anthology series with the best chance of a Best Limited Series or Anthology Series nomination is the fourth year of the long-running comedy series from Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers and Rhys Thomas in which each episode is a parody of a different documentary. This season’s cast includes Cate Blanchett, Alexander Skarsgard and “Succession” stars Harriet Walter and Nicholas Braun and features take-offs from “The September Issue,” “When We Were Kings” and “My Octopus Teacher.” The first three seasons of the series were all nominated for Emmy Awards in the now-defunct Outstanding Variety Sketch Series category.
“The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Contagion” writer Scott Z. Burns is one of the creators behind this Apple TV+ series, and the cast includes Meryl Streep, Murray Bartlett, Daveed Diggs, Edward Norton, Marion Cotillard and Diane Lane. The stories change from week to week, but they all deal with the effects of climate change, and with actors like Diggs, Kit Harington, and Tahar Rahim appearing in multiple episodes, the series is part anthology, part limited series.
“Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities” (Netflix)
While “Documentary Now!” may be more likely to receive a show nomination, “The Cabinet of Curiosities” is up for nominations for Creative Arts Emmys, particularly in the design categories. With Del Toro penning some of the stories and enlisting a cast of directors that includes Ana Lily Amirpour, Catherine Hardwicke and Jennifer Kent, this spooky style spins a wonderfully stylish new horror story with each episode.
“Little America” (AppleTV+)
Sian Heder (“CODA”) and Deepa Mehta (“Water”) were among the directors of the first season of this anthology series, with each episode telling the story of a different immigrant. For the second season, which premiered in December, Mehta returned to direct an episode co-written by Heder. The series was developed in part by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon.