At last: Emmy’s announce new rules

If you’re a series enthusiast and enjoy watching the Emmy’s you’ve probably experienced lashing fury whenever the nominees were announced over the past 3 years or so. It’s a “who can squeeze what into the easier category” game that produces a ton of injustice and have always left everyone wondering why nothing was ever done about it by the Academy.

(A little background information about this in case you didn’t know – the shows producers themselves are the ones who submit their shows for consideration in the category they deem more appropriate, hence the common chess playing with the Academy.)

So rejoice TV fans because last week the Academy announced that they have at last made changes to the Emmy’s rules to keep up with the fast changing scripted television programing landscape. Is it everything we’ve been waiting for? Absolutely not – but it’s a change in the right direction. The full list comes out on March but for now let’s talk about the best that has already been announced.

In order of fury-raising common category juggles:

1) Increase in Series Nominees to 7 shows per category

This is very sensible given that production has increased tremendously over the years and there will be no shortage of great shows to fill those seats. That being said, a larger increase would have been more fit.

2) New hard-and-fast Comedy/Drama distinction guidelines

We all know this has been a tricky one over the past years with the rise of popular dramedies such as “OITNB” and “Girls” that don’t particularly fit in either category. Then there’s also the shady – I’m talking to you “Shameless” – shows that submit themselves in the Comedy category simply to increase their chances at being nominated even though they’re not comedies.

If it was up to me we would solve this by creating a dramedy category. Then we’d have “Girls”, “OITNB”, “Transparent”, “Louie” and their like all together. Would it be perfect? No. But it would be better.

The Academy’s solution however was to qualify Dramas as shows with episodes with more than 30 minutes and Comedies as shows with episodes with less than 30 minutes. Producer’s can appeal to be submitted in different categories than what the rules implies.

The effectiveness of this rule will depend on how this appeals process will be conducted. If they perform good analysis we won’t be seeing “Shameless” in the Comedy category ever again and “OITNB” won’t be forced to submit as a Drama. But we’ll have to wait and see.

3) The Mini-Series catch

This is another category that has been frequently juggled to snatch nominations on easier fields. “Downton Abbey” is literally aristocracy when it comes to pretending they’re not a regular show and recently more shows have joined the bonanza such as “Fargo”.  “True Detective”, on a very ballsy move, submitted as Drama last year and competed against heavy-weights but that’s the end of the ride for it.

No more – Mini-Series are now programs of two or more episodes with a total running time of at least 150 minutes that tell a complete, non-recurring story, and do not have an ongoing storyline and/or main characters in subsequent seasons. Comedy and Drama are still programs with a minimum of six episodes with an ongoing storyline, theme and main characters presented under the same title. Producer’s may also appeal.

4) “My guy is only a Guest Actor”

This is the typical “this actor can’t play with the other big boys so let’s submit as guest actor even though he’s in 90% of the episodes”. Guest actor now have to appear in less than 50% of the episodes so this category is sure to have a good adjustment.

What did you think of the new rules?


8 thoughts on “At last: Emmy’s announce new rules

  1. Jason says:

    Thank you for this very informative blog. I have always been very confused about the different categories of the Emmy. I think TV shows are much harder to classify because they can change dramatically from episode to episode. I still don’t quite understand their 30 minutes cut-off on drama and comedy – that’s quite interesting. I don’t know if I can agree with that or not! It’s interesting to see how the TV world has changed so dramatically. We used to look to NBC, CBS, or ABC to give us the new TV shows, but now, we got all the different players HBO, Netflix, and Amazon. I agree with the previous comment that soon Emmy will have more budget than Oscar. Last year was the first time, the academy decided to recognize music written for TV shows and put together a concert ( While I wasn’t able to attend, I heard the event was quite interesting particularly performance led by Bear McCreary (music from the Walking Dead). I am interesting to see how Emmy evolves in the next couple years!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalia H.V. Justino says:

      Hi Jason, thanks for your comment – it makes me really glad to get this type of feedback! IMO, the 30 minutes cut off is a dry rule that was necessary to set a standard that would correctly apply to the vast majority of shows – we do have a handful of shows who will likely have to appeal to change categories but I believe this rule will keep most of the repeat offenders in the categories they belong. All will depend on how strict the panel will be when processing these appeals. Let’s keep an eye on it!


  2. Giada Palma says:

    Well, you make a good point about the mini-series bonanza, Downton Abbey is at any effect a regular drama, but I’m sure it will win a lot of awards in any case!! :)
    My thought is that since Netflix started producing original content, the Emmy Awards became much more interesting. You can agree or disagree, but they start building momentum. I bet that in 10 years from now there’ll be more budget for the Emmy Awards than for the Academy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalia H.V. Justino says:

      Hi Giada, thanks for commenting. I think this is bad news for Downton since it will now be competing in the Drama category and there are some very heavy weights there. I’m curious to see if the wonderful Maggie Smith will continue to score so many nominations in the Supporting Actress in a drama as she did when they were competing as a mini-series.

      I absolutely agree with you re Netflix and I’m also really excited about what Amazon has been bringing to the table. All their shows I’ve watched so far are really great. Perhaps I’ll write about them soon ;) Overall, I think HBO, AMC, Netflix and Amazon are the most interesting players right now although Showtime is getting better and better and also making some very off beat choices that add to the diversity we definitely need when it comes to content.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s