Throughout the years the Mini-Series and Movie categories have had their peaks a valleys at the Emmy Awards. Over the years all of the actors who were a part of either a mini-series or movie competed against one another in the acting categories at this award show. From 1973 until May 2010 the Mini-Series and Movie category were separate awards. From June 2010 through the present day with fewer Mini-Series and Movies being made, the nominees have been merged into one category.
Throughout the years there have been numerous landmark mini-series and made for television movies that have had an impact on television audiences. On the mini-series side we have had Upstairs, Downstairs (1976), Roots (1977), Prime Suspect (numerous years), From the Earth to the Moon (1998), Band of Brothers (2001), Angels in America (2003), John Addams (2007), and this years Outstanding Drama Contender Downton Abbey (2011). In the made for television movie category there was And the Band Played On (1994), Miss Ever's Boys (1997), Wit (2001), Recount (2008), and Grey Gardens (2009).
Looking at this list there a wide variety of films/mini-series that have had an impact on audiences, but throughout the most recent years as HBO and PBS dominate these categories the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences have noticed a diminishing number of made for television movies and mini-series, namely because of their waning popularity.
Last year's winner Downton Abbey beat out the most nominated program, and heavy favorite Mildred Pierce. After Downton's win the show started to get more notice from American audiences creating great word of mouth making this show a pop culture phenomena. Downton Abbey is part of an uptick that happens every so often in this category. Other mini-series like Band of Brothers and Roots have propelled cultural interest from television audiences proving there is value in this aspect of television, and that there has been a change in the way this category looks, and the type of shows that qualify for this award, even though they seem to constantly bend the rules.
This year the nominees for Outstanding Mini-Series/Made for Television Movie are:
American Horror Story
Hatfields & McCoys
Hemingway and Gellhorn
Sherlock Holmes: A Scandal in Belgravia
Shows like American Horror Story, Luther, and Sherlock Holmes break the mold of this category. The typical mini-series has fewer episodes is finite and does not tell a continuing story, Luther and Sherlock both break this pattern. Prime Suspect was the original BBC drama shown on PBS to break the mold with this style. American Horror Story fits the loose definition but Ryan Murphy is the similar pattern to create another season, namely because of the shows popularity. These three are superlative works, and they each do this category a fine service, proving that this category can evolve the way television has evolved.
The more interesting thing about this category is that most prognosticators are not predicting one of these rebels to stir up trouble and win the Emmy, although many American Horror Story as a second or third pick. Many award show gurus are playing it safe and predicting the political drama Game Change, about the failed campaign of John McCain, and running mate Sarah Palin. I am going to go out on a limb and say that the even more traditional Hattfields and McCoys is going to win. The Emmy Awards typically have a few rebels and help change up the nominees, but the winners usually stay pretty consistent. Older voters are not going to go more leather bound ghost in American Horror Story, the prize for that is Lange's win. Game Change will be honored with acting wins for Moore, and Harris, while I think Costner will surprise in the lead actor category. I think Hatfields surprises everyone.
I am proud ATAS nominated these six shows, and this is proff they do pay attention to the outsiders, and the variety of programming on television. I can't say I will convinced this voting has changed, much like with a Presidential election, until the results are revealed this Sunday night.