Emmy Rules Get an Overhaul, Including No More Hourlong Comedies

     February 20, 2015


Last year, the Television Academy had a few of its Emmy loopholes exploited, which led to True Detective running as a drama series, and hourlong series like Orange Is the New Black entering as a comedy. No longer!

THR is reporting a list of changes that will clear up some of those ambiguities moving forward. Here’s a breakdown:

jane-the-virgin-gina-rodriguez-andrea-navedo-emmyNew Rule: A comedy is now defined as each episode running 30 minutes on less.

Effect: Orange Is the New Black, Jane the Virgin, and some of Showtime’s series that were entering in the comedy category will now have to run against dramas. That’s going to be confusing, since it feels like an apple-to-oranges approach now when it comes to Best Drama Series.

New Rule: The miniseries category is now “limited series.” Limited series are 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.”

Effect: Negligible — it’s mostly semantic. Anthologies (which keep multiplying) will have stay to here now, though (no more category-jumping for True Detective), as will series sporting the “limited” buzzword (though it may legitimize said buzzword into being more than a PR stunt).

true-detective-the-locked-room-mcconaughey-harrelsonNew Rule: Guest actors and actresses must not appear in more than 50 percent of a series’ episodes.

Effect: This one is interesting. It would mean that 4 of the last 5 male winners (and possibly all 5 — I don’t watch Harry’s Law so I don’t know) would be ineligible, since they appeared in more than 50% of the episodes. With the women, it’s a little less lopsided, but there are still a lot of “in almost every episode” appearances. So, expect big shakeups here in the future (and some of those Guest Actor nominations moving to Best Supporting).

New Rule: Best Drama and Best Comedy both expanded to 7 entries each.

Effect: This helps accommodate a more crowded Best Drama field, thanks to the new comedy rule, but whether so many are necessary for comedies is less certain. Modern Family wins every year anyway, right?

New Rule: Variety shows are now in two categories: Outstanding Talk and Outstanding Sketch.

Effect: Basically, Saturday Night Live gets it own category so it no longer has to compete with The Daily Show.