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The miniseries has evolved from inside joke to becoming hugely popular in the streaming TV era

  • The most interesting race in the recent Primetime Emmys was the limited series/anthology category pitting WandaVision, Mare of Easttown, The Queen’s Gambit, The Underground Railroad and I May Destroy You against each other. "So how did the miniseries, once the field for intense HBO historical dramas and refined British productions (and farther back, occasional network TV event spectacles or corny micro-soaps), become the most popular medium in television?" says Leila Jordan. "The root of the change, like much of the current media landscape, is Ryan Murphy’s fault. The miniseries was almost a dead medium. In 2009 and 2010, only two productions were even eligible for the Emmys. While partly the fault of the writer’s strike, it signaled the fact that 22-episode seasons were king. The category of Best Miniseries had to merge with Best TV Movie to save the field. That was until 2011, when Murphy’s American Horror Story first aired on FX. The series was a breakout hit and signaled that the miniseries could have untapped potential. After only two years, the 2014 Emmys separated the categories once again due to an influx of new eligible series, including future mainstay Fargo (also on FX). But while 2014 signaled a change, Murphy’s biggest impact would not come until two years later. American Stories was not just one anthology series but a franchise. For the first time since airing, American Horror Story was not present in the Emmys categories. The field had become overwhelmed, led by the hit American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson. The series took the country by storm and became a cultural centerpiece. Murphy’s impact had solidified; the miniseries (now changed to the moniker “limited series” to distance it from its stodgy past) was here to stay. The popularity of those series sent a message across entertainment that limited series could be not just viable but successful."

    TOPICS: The Queen's Gambit, I May Destroy You, Mare of Easttown, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, The Underground Railroad, WandaVision, Ryan Murphy, American Horror Story Franchise, Emmys