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Emmys: ‘American Horror Story,’ ‘The Sinner,’ ‘American Vandal’ Are Out of the Running for Limited Series

After competing at the Primetime Emmys for seven years as a limited series, FX’s “American Horror Story” has been shifted to the outstanding drama categories.

The Television Academy announced its ruling on Tuesday, also announcing that two other series that previously entered as limited series, USA’s “The Sinner” and Netflix’s “American Vandal,” would also now compete in traditional series categories — “Sinner” in drama, “Vandal” as comedy.

American Horror Story: Apocalypse” featured characters from previous seasons of “American Horror Story,” which impacted its previous strategy of the show being framed as an anthology, with each season as a standalone.

As for “The Sinner,” the show featured an entirely different mystery in Season 2, but brought back a central character: Bill Pullman as Detective Harry Ambrose. Similarly, “American Vandal” also featured a different story in Season 2, but the show — a parody of true-life documentary series — also brought back two central characters, Tyler Alvarez as Peter Maldonado, and Griffin Gluck as Sam Ecklund.

The Television Academy said the reclassifications were “due to continuing story threads, characters and actors reprising those same character roles from previous seasons.”

The ruling is final, after the shows’ respective network/studios had petitioned to compete in limited series categories.

But, the org added that “this re-categorization is effective for the 71st Emmy Awards competition only.” That means, should the next seasons of those shows feature completely different stories with brand-new characters, they might once again be able to compete as limited series.

The TV Academy defines a “limited series” as “a program with two (2) or more episodes with a total running time of at least 150 program minutes that tells a complete, non-recurring story, and does not have an on-going storyline and/or main characters in subsequent seasons.”

The move shifts all three shows into much more competitive drama and comedy series categories, which may hinder their ability to score nominations. “American Horror Story,” in particular, has helped give FX a major nomination haul and won multiple times over the years. “American Horror Story: Cult” received seven nominations last year; Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, and James Cromwell are among the performers who have won for the show’s various installments over the years. “American Horror Story” has also been nominated as outstanding miniseries (which became the limited series category) four times.

“American Horror Story” pioneered the season-long anthology concept, which has since been used by shows like another series from executive producer Ryan Murphy, “American Crime Story.” It’s also becoming increasingly common for shows originally planned as limited series, like HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” to wind up returning — and then being reclassified as regular series. That will be the case next year when “Big Little Lies,” which won outstanding limited series in 2017, returns as a drama series.

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