The powers that be at the Emmys apparently listened to the widespread bitching and moaning about category fraud which reached a crescendo last season with the Miniseries/Drama shenanigans perpetrated by shows like True Detective and the Comedy/Drama bait and switch that is Orange is the New Black because they announced some fairly sweeping changes this morning.
The biggest one in my opinion has nothing to do with category fraud: they’re expanding the number of nominees in the series categories to seven. I called for this in one of our previous podcasts. Not necessarily about the Emmys, but about TV awards in general because there are just too many good shows these days to limit it to five. This will open Emmy up to fresh new blood which is not something it has always embraced in the past.
To clarify the other rules, dramas are now defined as being an hour or more. This includes shows like Orange is the New Black which are more drama/comedy hybrids. A show like Transparent, however, will compete with comedies even though it’s more dramatic even than Orange. At this point, they might as well change the name of the categories from Drama and Comedy to One-Hour and Half-Hour series because that’s what we’re really talking about now.
The Mini-Series category is being changed to Limited Series and will be specifically defined as shows that have of two or more episodes and an overall series running time of 2 1/2 hours or more with a closed story arc and main characters that don’t recur in subsequent seasons. This differentiates them from the Comedy and Drama categories which have six or more episodes, open storylines, continuing characters, consistent title and “continuity of production supervision.” Producers are able to file a petition to change their show’s category eligibility.
Guest Actor is now defined as an actor who appeared on less than 50% of the show’s episodes.
Variety Series is now being split into two categories: Variety Talk which will be awarded during the prime time Emmy telecast and Variety Sketch which will be handed out off camera with the other Creative Arts Emmys… which doesn’t really seem fair at all, but whatever.
The final change has to do with an expansion of voter eligibility. Basically, if a voter can vote in a category for the nominating round, they can also vote in the final round as long as they can demonstrate having seen the shows in question and that they don’t have a conflict of interest. I’m not sure what defines a conflict of interest, but that question and many more will be answered when they post the new official rules at the Television Academy website in March.
Tune in to the next episode of Water Cooler Podcast when we’ll be discussing the new rules changes as well as offering up the shows we’d like to see nominated at the half way point in Emmy eligibility.