2023 Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series


We will update this article throughout the season, along with all our predictions, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2023 Emmys race. The nomination round of voting takes place from June 15 to June 26, with the official Emmy nominations announced Wednesday, July 12. Afterward, final voting commences August 17 and ends the night of August 28. The 75th annual Primetime Emmy Awards will now take place Monday, January 15, live on Fox at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

See our previous thoughts on what to expect at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards here.

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The State of the Race

Months of predictions often lead to plenty of last minute second guessing, but it does seem like HBO has given enough of a last minute boost to “100 Foot Wave” Season 2 for it to go all the way. Again, it really said something last year that the exhilarating show about big wave surfing got an Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series nomination against marquee projects like “The Beatles: Get Back,” “Jeen-Yuhs,” “The Andy Warhol Diaries,” and “We Need to Talk About Cosby.” Some of those projects made waves as big as the ones “100 Foot Wave” subject Garrett McNamara surfs.

Though awards campaigns have been sparse this year in wake of the ongoing WGA and SAG strikes, HBO did crank out one big crafts-focused event that spotlighted the Chris Smith-helmed show after a panel on “The White Lotus.” And now, the premium cable channel announced the series has been renewed for a third season.

PBS just does not get the same publicity, but when it has a Ken Burns project as its nominee, it probably does not really need it. “The U.S. and the Holocaust” has been the immediate favorite post-nominations, but it possibly not winning could be attributed to subject matter. The recent winners in this category have been Peter Jackson’s aforementioned Disney+ series on The Beatles, “Secrets of the Whales,” “The Last Dance,” etc. All fare a bit lighter than a WWII-era documentary. “100 Foot Wave” is intense, but not harrowing the same way some of its fellow nominees are.

Power Rankings:

  1. “100 Foot Wave” (HBO)

  2. “The U.S. and the Holocaust” (PBS)

  3. “The 1619 Project” (Hulu)

  4. “Secrets of the Elephants” (National Geographic)

  5. “Dear Mama: The Saga of Afeni and Tupac Shakur” (FX)

Will Win: “100 Foot Wave”
Could Win: “The U.S. and the Holocaust”
Should Win: “The 1619 Project”

More Category Predictions:
Outstanding Animated Program
Outstanding Talk Series
Outstanding Scripted Variety Series
Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special

To see IndieWire’s full set of predictions for the 75th Emmy Awards click here.

Last Year’s Winner: “The Beatles: Get Back”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: Disney TV has won this category three years in a row, with the last two years being Disney+ projects. Looking at the nominees, Disney would be able to still count a win for Hulu or National Geographic as its own.
Notable Ineligible Series: “The New York Times Presents” (submitted individual entries as a Documentary or Nonfiction Special); “Music Box” (submitted individual entries as a Documentary or Nonfiction Special)

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