On Monday, the Television Academy made the announcement that Showtime’s On Becoming a God In Central Florida will compete as a drama at the 2020 Emmys. This was a major surprise to everyone, including Showtime itself. Prior to the announcement, the show has been billed as a black comedy both through marketing and at various awards groups. The decision is likely because of its running length with episodes on average at 40 minutes.
This is a major shakeup in the Emmy race. For nearly a year, Showtime marketed the first season as a black comedy. The premium network also spent a lot of time and money campaigning the show as a comedy within various awards groups like the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards where Kirsten Dunst was nominated in the comedic actress categories and at the WGA Awards where the series was nominated in the episodic comedy category.
In the past, Showtime had a lot of luck in the comedy races with black comedies and dramedies with nominations and/or wins for actresses like Toni Collette (United States of Tara), Laura Linney (The Big C), and Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie).
Because more and more shows have blurred the line between the two genres, the Television Academy set up a blanket rule to designate the two genres back in 2015. The new rule marks the distinction between the two genres as one of length with 30 minute series automatically classifying a series as comedy and one hour series as drama. Networks and producers are allowed to petition the ruling on a case by case basis which has led to one hour programs like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel rightfully being submitted as comedies and half-hour programs like Homecoming correctly competing as a drama.
According to Variety who exclusively broke the news, the creators of the show and Showtime both appealed the decision however “they were told by the Academy that their decision was final.”
On Becoming a God In Central Florida is set in 1992 Florida and stars Kirsten Dunst as a widow who attempts to rise up in the same pyramid scheme that led to the demise of her husband. The black comedy features an ensemble that includes Théodore Pellerin, Mel Rodriguez, Beth Ditto, and Ted Levine. Created by Robert Funke and Matt Lusky the show is also executive produced by Dunst herself and George Clooney and Grant Heslov. The first season is currently available to stream on Showtime.