American Horror Story, The Sinner subject to Emmy category swap

American Horror Story season 8It feels like it was years ago when the Emmys first decided to get tougher on limited series; now, they’re actively enforcing it with some big-name shows!

Today, the Television Academy confirmed that American Horror Story, The Sinnerand also the already-canceled American Vandal are not eligible within the Limited Series category for the upcoming awards, and would be re-categorized as a result of it. Look for them instead to fall more into the Drama Series category.

So why is this happening now? Under Emmy rules, limited series cannot be the continuation of an already-established story featuring characters we’ve already come to know and love, and when you think about these shows, none of them quite qualify. With American Horror Story, for example, you had a massive crossover season in Apocalypse that featured a lot of returning characters from Murder House and Coven. Meanwhile, the lead of The Sinner in Bill Pullman’s Harry Ambrose was first featured over on season 1 — while that may have been more of a showcase for Jessica Biel, Pullman was still there and his role was paramount to the case’s resolution. It’s hard to have a season 2 story-wise without Ambrose’s success in season 1.

While this news is the sort that will get keyboards typing angry editorials across the entertainment media, we don’t actually think that the overall ramifications are that vast. At best, American Horror Story could have scored a nomination or two in the Limited Series category, but we’re well past the point where this show can just be expected to clean house and score a lot of love there. Meanwhile, The Sinner may have been able to scrounge together a nomination for Pullman, but he was never projected to win. That honor is more than likely going to go to either Mahershala Ali for True Detective or to Hugh Grant for A Very English Scandal.

If you’re a network like FX or USA, how much should you really care about this? It does hurt to not get that extra bit of promotion come Emmy season, but if you’re making these projects just for the sake of getting a nod from the Academy, you’re probably doing it wrong anyway. We also have a feeling that they were probably acutely aware of this for a while now so it’s not likely coming as any surprise. They’re both already in the process of making new seasons anyway so they can just shrug this off and try to make the next batches of episodes so good that they get nominations in the Drama Series category. For The Sinner, they’re going to have a chance — Ambrose is going to be back once more. For American Horror Story, there is a certain degree of mystery left; the only thing that’s officially known is that Evan Peters isn’t coming back for this season.

Is this good or bad news?

It has to be good. While we think that the Emmys are typically well-meaning with their rule changes unless they actually do something to put down the hammer on them, why do they matter? The whole reason why these rules exist is to make sure that a network can’t just pile up nominations in a less competitive category and this is steering these shows back in the right direction.

Surprised by this announcement, and that the TV Academy seems to be legitimately policing some of its entrants? Share in the comments. (Photo: FX.)

Love TV? Be sure to like Matt & Jess on Facebook for more updates!