Emmy suspense: Can ‘American Horror Story’ win Best Mini/Movie without writing or directing nods?

According to our predictors, FX’s “American Horror Story” is in second place in the race for Best Movie/Miniseries with 4-to-1 odds, not far behind “Game Change” (3 to 2). But to win, “Horror” will have to overcome one major handicap: though it’s tied with “Mad Men” for the most Emmy nominations overall (17), it’s the only nominee in its category without a writing or directing bid. “Hemingway and Gellhorn” received a nod for directing, while the other four – “Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia,” “Hatfields and McCoys,” “Luther,” and “Game Change” – are nominated for both writing and directing.

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The last time a movie or miniseries won the top prize without at least a writing or directing nomination was 2005, when “The Lost Prince” ruled as Best Miniseries in an upset victory. Only two others have prevailed since 2000: “Tuesdays with Morrie” (2000) and “Steven Spielberg Presents ‘Taken'” (2003).

However, it’s difficult to make a direct comparison because until 2011 movies and miniseries competed in separate races, while longform writers and directors were combined. If their categories had been consolidated, could “The Lost Prince” have defeated “Warm Springs,” which won Best TV Movie that year and also earned nominations for writing and directing? Could “Taken” have overtaken 2003 TV Movie champ “Door to Door,” which won its writing and directing bids?

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Hypothetical outcomes are debatable, but the competition is undoubtedly steeper now that movies and miniseries face off in one category, so while it is historically more common for miniseries to prevail without support from the writing or directing branches – since 1990, eight such miniseries have won, compared to just one TV movie – that track record may not benefit “American Horror Story.”

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Last year, “Downton Abbey” prevailed over a field where two nominees failed to receive a writing or directing bid: “The Pillars of the Earth” and “The Kennedys.” Will “American Horror Story” fare better than those also-rans? Or will it be similarly written off?

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