How the Emmys’ New Rules Affect Anthology Series

Sam Lothridge/FX

Since its premiere in 2012, FX’s anthology series American Horror Story has landed 89 nominations in Limited Series categories and has won 16.

That tally won’t increase for the 71st Emmy Awards, however. AHS is one of three shows the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences just recategorized for this year’s ceremony.

American Horror Story: Apocalypse and USA’s anthology The Sinner will be considered in the Drama Series categories, and Netflix’s now-canceled anthology American Vandal will be considered in the Comedy Series categories “due to continuing story threads, characters, and actors reprising those same character roles from previous seasons,” according to a TV Academy statement released on Tuesday, April 9.

In the statement, the Academy also asserted that a limited series is one that “tells a complete, non-recurring story, and does not have an ongoing storyline and/or main characters in subsequent seasons.”

The Sinner (Zach Dilgard/USA Network)

If you’ll recall, AHS: Apocalypse saw the return of the witches from AHS: Coven. (True, the show has had its repertory of actors reprise roles in prior seasons — Naomi Grossman and Lily Rabe playing Pepper and Sister Mary Eunice in both Asylum and Freak Show, for example — but Apocalypse marked the first time old characters were brought back as main characters.)

Meanwhile, The Sinner focused on a new case in its second season but still featured Bill Pullman’s Detective Harry Ambrose as the show’s lead investigator.

And on American Vandal, Tyler Alvarez’s Peter Maldonado and Griffin Gluck‘s Sam Eckland returned to play the lead characters in the second season’s new story.

As Deadline notes, the distinction between limited series and drama/comedy series can be difficult to parse out, and some Emmy voters have always wanted American Horror Story grouped in the Drama Series categories, as it was at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards for its first season.

Big Little Lies (Jennifer Clasen/HBO)

Big Little Lies was another controversial addition to the Limited Series categories, since HBO had already greenlit another season with the same stars and the same characters.

This year’s reclassification is bad news for that trio of shows. Historically, the Limited Series categories have been less competitive than the categories for regular series.

In the Drama Series categories, for instance, AHS and The Sinner will be up against critical hits such as Game of Thrones, Killing Eve, and This Is Us.

And American Vandal will have to face off against Veep, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Barry, and others.

But on the bright side, the reclassification is good news for AHS alum Jessica Lange. The two-time Oscar winner — who has taken home two Emmys for her starring roles in previous seasons — will once again be eligible for an Emmy this year.

Her two-episode stint in Apocalypse wasn’t long enough to qualify her for the Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie category, and there’s no category for Guest Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.

Now, however, Lange will be able to compete in the Guest Actress in a Drama Series race, and Gold Derby even considers her a “default front-runner.”