When trying to predict which show would score the most Emmy nods, it's doubtful that many would've earmarked FX's spooky "American Horror Story" as a frontrunner, but the gory drama earned an eye-popping 17 nominations when the Emmy contenders were announced Thursday morning.

For those keeping count, that's the same number as AMC's critically acclaimed "Mad Men," and more than other much-lauded cable dramas like "Homeland," "Game of Thrones" and "Downton Abbey."

One explanation for the sweep was the producers' savvy decision to submit the show for consideration in miniseries category. The Washington Post's Jen Chaney explained the logic behind the decision. "Their argument [was]: As an 'anthology' series, one that will reboot itself in season two with all new characters, it could be considered a miniseries and a drama. Emmy bought that argument, allowing “AHS” to compete in a (slightly) less competitive field than the best drama race."

The strategy clearly paid off, since "AHS," created by Ryan Murphy, earned nods in all major miniseries categories, scoring nominations for Outstanding Miniseries; Lead Actress for Connie Britton; Supporting Actress for both Jessica Lange and Frances Conroy; Supporting Actor for Denis O'Hare, and recognition in the technical categories for Art Direction (for two separate episodes); Casting; Costumes; Editing; Hairstyling; Main Title Design; Makeup; Prosthetic Makeup; Sound Editing; Sound Mixing and Stunt Coordination.

Three-time Emmy nominee Connie Britton (who was cruelly denied an award for her compelling work on "Friday Night Lights" at last year's Emmys) reacted to the news with her trademark wit. "It’s nice that when you sleep with a rubber man there’s a reward at the end," she told The New York Times. "I have some really wonderful things to add to the special skills section [of my resume]. So thank you, Ryan Murphy."

Britton told the Wall Street Journal that she's still not holding her breath for a win, however: "This is a tough category. I’m not anticipating that the third time is the charm. I’m in Nashville, and I was just getting up and getting going. I was shocked and this is so surreal. It’s just amazing and very unexpected this year–after all my character is dead."

"American Horror Story" creator Ryan Murphy weighed in on the show's unexpected success over at TVLine, telling Michael Ausiello, " In most cases, anything that that remotely has to do with horror or the horror genre doesn’t usually get a lot of [Emmy] love for whatever reason. So that was a huge hurdle [we had to overcome]. I was pretty sure Jessica [Lange] would get nominated, and obviously the special effects, but other than that I had no clue; I was very surprised."

Do you think "American Horror Story" deserved 17 nominations? Were you pleased to see it in the miniseries category or do you think it should've been considered as a drama? Weigh in below.

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  • Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series

    Zooey Deschanel, "New Girl" Lena Dunham, "Girls" Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie" Tina Fey, "30 Rock" Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep" Melissa McCarthy, "Mike and Molly" Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation"

  • Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series

    Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock" Don Cheadle, "House of Lies" Louis CK, "Louie" Jon Cryer, "Two and A Half Men" Larry David, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory"

  • Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series

    Mayim Bialik, "The Big Bang Theory" Kathryn Joosten, "Desperate Housewives" Julie Bowen, "Modern Family" Sofia Vergara, "Modern Family" Merritt Wever, "Nurse Jackie" Kristen Wiig, "Saturday Night Live"

  • Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series

    Ed O'Neill, "Modern Family" Jesse Tyler Ferguson, "Modern Family" Ty Burrell, "Modern Family" Eric Stonestreet, "Modern Family" Max Greenfield, "New Girl" Bill Hader, "Saturday Night Live"

  • Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series

    Elizabeth Banks, "30 Rock" Kathy Bates, "Two and A Half Men" Margaret Cho, "30 Rock" Dot-Marie Jones, "Glee" Melissa McCarthy, "Saturday Night Live" Maya Rudolph, "Saturday Night Live"

  • Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series

    Will Arnett, "30 Rock" Bobby Cannavale, "Nurse Jackie" Jimmy Fallon, "Saturday Night Live" Michael J. Fox, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" Jon Hamm, "30 Rock" Greg Kinnear, "Modern Family"

  • Outstanding Comedy Series

    "The Big Bang Theory" "Curb Your Enthusiasm" "Girls" "Modern Family" "30 Rock" "Veep"

  • Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series

    Kathy Bates, "Harry's Law" Glenn Close, "Damages" Claire Danes, "Homeland" Michelle Dockery, "Downton Abbey" Juilianna Margulies, "The Good Wife" Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men"

  • Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama

    Hugh Bonneville, "Downton Abbey" Steve Buscemi, "Boardwalk Empire" Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad" Michael C. Hall, "Dexter" Jon Hamm, "Mad Men" Damien Lewis, "Homeland"

  • Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series

    Anna Gunn, "Breaking Bad" Maggie Smith, "Downton Abbey" Joanna Froggatt, "Downton Abbey" Archie Panjabi, "The Good Wife" Christine Baranski, "The Good Wife" Christina Hendricks, "Mad Men"

  • Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series

    Aaron Paul, "Breaking Bad" Giancarlo Esposito, "Breaking Bad" Brendan Coyle, "Downton Abbey" Jim Carter, "Downton Abbey" Peter Dinklage, "Game of Thrones" Jared Harris, "Mad Men"

  • Outstanding Guest Actress In A Drama Series

    Joan Cusack, "Shameless" Loretta Devine, "Grey's Anatomy" Martha Plimpton, "The Good Wife" Julia Ormond, "Mad Men" Jean Smart, "Harry's Law" Uma Thurman, "Smash"

  • Outstanding Guest Actor In A Drama Series

    Dylan Baker, "The Good Wife" Jeremy Davies, "Justified" Ben Feldman, "Mad Men" Michael J. Fox, "The Good Wife" Mark Margolis, "Breaking Bad" Jason Ritter, "Parenthood"

  • Outstanding Drama Series

    "Boardwalk Empire" "Breaking Bad" "Downton Abbey" "Game of Thrones" "Homeland" "Mad Men"

  • Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or Movie

    Connie Britton, "American Horror Story" Ashley Judd, "Missing" Nicole Kidman, "Hemingway & Gellhorn" Julianne Moore, "Game Change" Emma Thompson, "The Song of Lunch (Masterpiece)"

  • Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or Movie

    Kevin Costner, "Hatfields & McCoys" Benedict Cumberbactch, "Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia (Masterpiece" Idris Elba, "Luther" Woody Harrelson, "Game Change" Bill Paxton, "Hatfields & McCoys" Clive Owen, "Hemingway & Gellhorn"

  • Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or Movie

    Frances Conroy, "American Horror Story" Jessica Lange, "American Horror Story" Sarah Paulson, "Game Change" Mare Winningham, "Hatfields & McCoys" Judy Davis, "Page Eight (Masterpiece)"

  • Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or Movie

    Tom Berenger, "Hatfields & McCoys" Martin Freeman, "Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia (Masterpiece)" Ed Harris, "Game Change" Denis O'Hare, "American Horror Story" David Strathairn, "Hemingway & Gellhorn"

  • Outstanding Miniseries Or Movie

    "American Horror Story" "Game Change" "Hatfields & McCoys" "Hemingway & Gellhorn" "Luther" "Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia (Masterpiece)"

  • Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series

    "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" "The Colbert Report" "Real Time with Bill Maher" "Saturday Night Live" "Jimmy Kimmel Live" "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon"

  • Outstanding Reality - Competition Program

    "So You Think You Can Dance" "The Amazing Race" "Dancing With the Stars" "Top Chef" "Project Runway" "The Voice"

  • Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Reality-Competition Program

    Cat Deeley, "So You Think You Can Dance" Phil Keoghan, "The Amazing Race" Ryan Seacrest, "American Idol" Betty White, "Betty White's Off Their Rockers" Tom Bergeron, "Dancing With the Stars"

More Emmys 2012: Snubs and surprises| Stars react to nominations

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