Television Academy Changes Rules for the Emmys in 2015
First and foremost is a change to the categorization process. In the past, networks were able to submit a show in whichever category they felt suited it. So a show that was on the border between comedy and drama, or miniseries/movie and drama, could have its categorization decided by the people who submit it for consideration. This leads to strange, borderline category fraud, as a show like Orange Is the New Black or Shameless could be put forward as a drama, and a drama like Fargo could be put forward as a miniseries. But that’s not going to be the case anymore with these new rules.
From here on out, a comedy series is defined as a series with episodes running 30 minutes or less. That means shows like Shameless and Orange Is the New Black are out of contentions for the Best Comedy Series Emmy, and must instead compete in Best Drama Series. However, there is a silver-lining in all this: to compensate for the influx of competitors in the drama series category, the Television Academy has expanded the list of Best Drama Series nominees to 7. In the past, there could be seven nominees, provided a seventh series came within 2% of the sixth nominee. But we’re now guaranteed a seventh nominee, so things aren’t as grim for the displaced comedy series as they might seem. As an added bonus, there will also now be seven nominees in the Best Comedy Series category, allowing for a wider, more diverse array of nominees to get in. That’s now two extra shows that can lose out to Modern Family this year!
“As our growing membership creates and produces more content for ever-changing platforms, today’s changes in the rules and procedures are vital,” said Television Academy chairman Bruce Rosenblum. “We’re sure that in coming years we will continue to evolve our rules as our dynamic industry grows.”
Significant changes are also being made to the miniseries/TV movie race. The category will now be known as the “Limited Series” category, and will be defined as “programs of two or more episodes with a total running time of at least 150 program minutes that tell a complete, non-recurring story and do not have an ongoing storyline and/or main characters in subsequent seasons.” This will also be accompanied by a change in the Variety Series race, as it will now be split into two separate categories, with one category for Outstanding Talk Variety show (i.e., The Tonight Show, The Daily Show, Real Time With Bill Maher, and their ilk), and Outstanding Variety Sketch show (i.e., Saturday Night Live and the like). This latter category will be moved from the main Emmy show to the Creative Arts Emmys ceremony along with the Outstanding Guest Actor category, which is also seeing significant changes. The Guest Actor race will now exclude any actors that appear in over 50% of a single episode.
Last, but not least, is the change in membership. The Television Academy is expanding the participation for Emmys voting, as all members are now eligible to vote in both the nomination and final rounds. This is a change from when voting in certain categories was relegated solely to that category’s branch (i.e., music, production design, etc.).
These are some pretty damn exciting changes, making for an Emmy race that will potentially have a more varied list of nominees. On the one hand, the influx of drama competition could lead to some favorites getting snubbed. On the other hand, the leveling of the playing field in the comedy race could mean previously snubbed shows like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia could also have a shot. I can’t wait to see how the race changes this year.