The Emmys Changed Their Rules & It’s Ch-Ch-Changes For Orange Is the New Black

Also Jane the Virgin.

The Emmys are gonna be a little different this year. Or rather, the Television Academy’s put a bunch of new Emmy rules into place and it’s causing a lot of confusion, side-eyes, and strategy change-ups both behind-the-scenes in Hollywood and for those of us who watch all this hullabaloo from home.

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The new rules are gonna mean big campaign shifts for shows like Orange Is the New Black (now automatically relegated to the Drama categories).

Amongst the new rules:

  • Shows that are made for the 30-minute format will be considered comedy; shows in the hour-long format will be considered drama.
  • The definition of “guest actor” will now mean anyone who is in less than 50% of a show’s season, which opens things up for far more recurring characters to go head-to-head with one-off or two-off performers for the category.
  • Both the Comedy and Drama Series categories will up their number of nominees per year from six to seven.
  • The Variety Series category will be split into two: “Outstanding Variety Talk” and “Outstanding Variety Sketch.”
  • The Mini-Series category is being changed to “Limited Series” and 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.” This is generally confusing, but it also means True Detective and Fargo will finally actually be in the same category. But what about Sherlock? The Drama category is still being defined as for shows “with a minimum of six episodes,” and now it seems Mini-Series doesn’t quite fit with what they do, either.

All of the changes — whether agreeable or not — are interesting manifestations of the drastic changes that have been happening in TV throughout recent years. The upping of the number of series set to be nominated each year, for example, is a direct reflection of the fact that there is simply a butt-load more television out there than there ever has been. And some of the rules may certainly help clarify some things.

But while we’re at it: Automatically putting shows like Jane The Virgin in the same category as, say, House Of Cards or Mad Men just doesn’t seem accurate or comparable — pitting what Gina Rodriguez is doing against what Robin Wright (HoC) or Kerry Washington (Scandal) are doing just reads as bizarre. But when it comes to awards shows there aren’t many who’ve adapted the language to make the appropriate distinctions. As Willa Paskin put it for Slate:

What we are dealing with here is a kind of language gap. So many shows on TV right now are a mixture of comedy and drama, but because we do not yet have the word to describe this genre-mixing, genre-poaching TV—“dramedy,” I think we can all agree, is not a term up to the task—it is easier for the Emmys to pretend it does not exist. It’s as if the TV Academy were livestock traders who know mules are neither donkeys nor horses, but have decided to call all mules that are over six feet horses, and all mules under five feet donkeys, because what else are you supposed to do if you can’t call anything a mule?

Look, all I’m sayin’ is that Rogelio De La Vega must get his due.

It should be noted that producers of any show can petition for review of their show’s eligibility in these categories. You can bet there will be a lot of that going on this year, as placing dramedies in the comedy category has historically won a lot of people a lot of Emmys and there will be plenty of folks not ready to let go of that quite yet.

(Images via Netflix, Tawdrysquid/Tumblr)

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