UPDATED: This article has been updated to include a statement on the decision from the Television Academy. The update is below.
HBO hit “The White Lotus” is saying arrivederci to the Emmys’ Limited Series categories one year after it won every major award it was up for.
Variety was first to report the news that the show helmed by Mike White, which won the Emmy for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series last year, is now being moved to the Drama categories for its Sicily-set second season.
The issue of how to classify “The White Lotus” — which has been part comedy, part drama, part murder mystery, now established to take place at a different location each season — is one that actually came up last year. Since 2019, the TV Academy has made rulings that prevented shows with continuing story threads, characters, and actors reprising those same characters from previous seasons from competing in the Limited or Anthology Series categories, pushing away former contenders like “American Horror Story” and “The Sinner.” When “The White Lotus” Season 2 was announced with star Jennifer Coolidge returning as eccentric heiress Tanya McQuoid, the TV Academy made the decision that, in that specific case, “the reappearance in a subsequent ‘season’ of one character from a large ensemble does not prohibit eligibility based on the Academy’s main criteria for limited series.”
“The White Lotus” Season 2 has also been a puzzle for guild awards nominations, with the Directors Guild of America nominating the show in its Comedy category, and the Screen Actors Guild nominating it for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series this year.
A spokesperson for the Television Academy released a statement on “The White Lotus” decision to IndieWire that said, “Due to an ongoing storyline, The Television Academy has determined ‘The White Lotus’ Season 2 is eligible in the Outstanding Comedy or Drama Series category.” IndieWire has reached out to representatives for the series to confirm that the hour-long show will opt for the latter.
“The White Lotus” has made no announcements about bringing back any characters with Season 3, putting it more in line with what qualifies as a Limited Series under the organization’s rules. It could very well compete again in Limited Series for that season.
Should “The White Lotus” move to the Drama categories, it would mean HBO likely has four major contenders for the Outstanding Drama Series Emmys. Current reigning winner “Succession” will premiere its fourth season on March 26, putting it right before the Emmy deadline. The network also has “House of the Dragon,” a prequel to the four-time Outstanding Drama Series winner “Game of Thrones,” and the currently airing apocalypse drama “The Last of Us,” from Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series winner Craig Mazin (“Chernobyl”).
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