Emmys Rule Change Sets Minimum Length for TV Movie to Curb Category Fraud

     December 14, 2018

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Once upon a time, the “TV Movie or Miniseries” category at the Emmys was the one during which many viewers went to fix a snack or zone out for a bit. This format has been a mainstay of television for decades, but it used to be the kind of thing that no one really watched. That all changed with the arrival of True Detective and the birth of the “anthology series”, which is really just a miniseries with a different name. And recently heavily anthologized shows like Black Mirror and Sherlock have submitted single episodes in the TV Movie category, and have been winning left and right.

Well that’s about to stop. The Emmys announced a few rule changes today (via TV Line) that will be in effect for next year’s ceremony, which airs on September 22, 2019, and one of the biggest rule changes is a new minimum length for a piece of content to qualify as a TV Movie. Under this new rule, entries into the TV movie categories must be at least 75 minutes in length.

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Image via Netflix

The most recent winner in this category, the Black Mirror episode “USS Callister”, would barely qualify at 76 minutes, but 2017’s winner, the outstanding Black Mirror episode “San Junipero”, would be ruled ineligible here at only 61 minutes in length.

So while this is a bummer to shows like Black Mirror, I actually think it helps realign the category with what it’s supposed to be awarding: feature films made for television. Now I know, the Black Mirror producers maintain that each episode is a standalone film, but it’s still set up as an anthology series and has connective tissue. Whereas something like HBO’s The Tale is an outstanding, close-ended feature film—which was beat out by a great episode of Black Mirror.

If Sherlock ever decides to come back it’ll likely be safe here, since those episodes tend to run 90 minutes in length. But if we start to see more genuine feature films win in this category—which hasn’t happened since 2015’s Bessie—I definitely won’t be mad.

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Image via PBS

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