The limited series has become one of TV’s most vibrant formats, a way for creators to deliver expansive but self-contained stories in a variety of genres. Here’s how to watch 2021’s Emmy nominees for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series.
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Star and creator Michaela Coel drew from her own experience of sexual assault for this powerful series about a writer dealing with the aftermath of being raped. Coel also wrote and co-directed all 12 episodes, charting the journey of main character Arabella as she processes her trauma, contemplates revenge, and attempts to move on with her life. Meanwhile, her friends and romantic partners do their best to support her while engaged in their own personal drama.
I May Destroy You is streaming on HBO Max ($9.99+ per month).
This hugely popular mystery series starring Kate Winslet might turn out not to be limited, as Winslet and creator Brad Ingelsby have hinted. For now, though, it focuses on a single case, as Winslet’s title character investigates the murder of a teenage girl in her small Pennsylvania town. Mare has a connection to seemingly everyone in town, and they all, in turn, have connections to the murdered girl, making for a complex web of suspicion and protection.
Mare of Easttown is streaming on HBO Max ($9.99+ per month).
Writer-director Scott Frank spent nearly 30 years working to adapt Walter Tevis’ 1982 novel about a troubled chess prodigy, which finally paid off with this popular, acclaimed seven-episode series. Anya Taylor-Joy stars as the brilliant Beth Harmon, who rises to the top of the competitive chess world in the 1960s but struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. The series combines chess nerdery with carefully crafted period detail and a character study of a damaged but compelling protagonist.
The Queen’s Gambit is streaming on Netflix ($8.99+ per month).
Filmmaker Barry Jenkins (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk) created and directed every episode of this adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s fantastical historical novel. Here, the underground network of abolitionists and safe havens that aided runaway slaves in the 1800s is a literal railroad, offering potential freedom to slaves who can escape from captivity. It’s a lyrical representation of a terrible period in American history, combining a bit of magic with the grim reality of the time.
The Underground Railroad is streaming on Amazon Prime ($119 per year).
The first official TV series from the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings Avengers members Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and the Vision (Paul Bettany) from their superhero adventures into a world created from pastiches of classic sitcoms. WandaVision mixes signature MCU action and comic-book storytelling with meticulous recreations of decades of TV history. It embraces the medium and makes it an integral part of the mystery of what’s going on in the strange town of Westview.
WandaVision is streaming on Disney+ ($7.99 per month).