Following the lead of the Emmys, the Screen Actors Guild Awards replaced their “miniseries” categories with “limited series” categories this year, meaning that anthology series now compete against miniseries instead of dramas. This paved the way for “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” the first installment of the “American Crime Story” anthology series, to receive nominations for Best Movie/Limited Actor (Sterling K. Brown and Courtney B. Vance) and Best Movie/Limited Actress (Sarah Paulson). Although it was not nominated, fellow first-season anthology “The Girlfriend Experience” also contended as a limited series.
It sounded like SAG was finally going to be consistent with the Emmys in terms of categorizations, but their rule change came with a caveat. Any series that had previously been nominated as a drama would be grandfathered in as such. This only affects FX’s “American Horror Story,” which had previously received multiple nominations for Best Drama Actress (Jessica Lange), including a win for 2011. It has not been nominated by SAG since 2013, but has since amassed 13 Emmy nominations, including two wins. Should a third season of “True Detective” ever materialize, it would also likely have to submit as a drama because its first season was nominated for Best Drama Actor (Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey).
SAG’s new rule is an extension of one that continually mandates that “Orange is the New Black” contend in the comedy categories. “Orange is the New Black” did submit as a drama for its first season, but because it was shut out, it was allowed to switch over the next year. Now that it has been nominated (and won) as a comedy, it is unable to submit as a drama for the remainder of its run, even though that is where the Emmys ruled that it should compete after they initially nominated (and awarded) it as a comedy.
Anthology “American Crime” easily hopped over to the limited series races because its first season had been shut out in the drama races last year. It is nominated this year for Best Movie/Limited Actress (Felicity Huffman). “Fargo” did not air in 2016, but when it contends next year for its 2017 season, it will also contend as a limited series, as it was snubbed as a drama for 2015 with its second season. Despite having been renewed for a second season seven months before the SAG Awards for 2014, “Fargo” sneakily submitted as a miniseries for its first season and was inexplicably accepted as such by SAG, who nominated it for Best Movie/Mini Actor (Billy Bob Thornton).
In theory, the rule about not flip-flopping between genres limits contenders from gaming the system and provides some internal consistency to SAG history, but as it stands, the revamp seems to have penalized “American Horror Story” specifically, given that it is the only current anthology series that is not competing in the limited series categories where it is regularly nominated by the Emmys. It initially submitted as a drama largely because it pioneered the modern anthology series format; it would have been unprecedented to compete as a miniseries. Do you think that SAG should make an exception — or perhaps, not have this exception — and allow “American Horror Story” to compete in the limited series categories for future seasons? Vote in our poll below.
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