Emmy Awards Announce Major Changes to Drama, Comedy and Limited Series Categories

The Emmy Awards have announced a few new rules changes, which will affect series such as ‘True Detective’ as well as ‘Orange is the New Black’….

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

The Emmy Awards are undergoing some major changes for the upcoming award season that will affect many of your favorite shows and where they will be categorized when it comes time for voting and handing out gold statues.

In the past, the Emmys have allowed television series to basically define themselves and the categories they could be listed in for any particular award. For instance, ‘True Detective’ opted to go into the drama category last year instead of being placed in the ‘miniseries’ category despite the fact that the eight-episode series could have easily been labeled as an limited run or anthology similar to ‘American Horror Story’ or ‘Fargo’.

The biggest changes in the new Emmy rules will likely affect a few hour long comedies, which are no longer allowed in the comedy category.

Before we get too deep into analysis, let’s take a look at the key rules changes and the shows it might affect in the upcoming Emmy race.

Number of Nominees

The first major change is an increase to the number of nominees listed in the best drama and best comedy categories due to the growth of shows on so many different platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and other outlets. So the new number of nominees now shifts from six to seven in both the drama and comedy categories.

Comedies Are 30-Minutes Long

The biggest change that will hit several existing shows as well as a few newcomers is that comedies are now defined as 30-minutes or less to be considered for the comedy category. So sitcoms such as ‘The Big Bang Theory’ are perfectly fine, but for a show like ‘Orange is the New Black’, which straddles the line between comedy and drama will no longer have an option for which category they are placed. Because ‘Orange is the New Black’ is an hour long, the show must be considered a drama.

The same goes for ‘Shameless’ as well as the new series ‘Better Call Saul’, which behaves very much the same way with layers of drama and comedy throughout a one-hour episode. Now any series over 30-minutes in length has to be considered in the drama category, which could shift voting and nominees in a big way over the next year or two.

Limited Series vs. Miniseries

The category formerly known as ‘miniseries’ will be changed to ‘limited series’ with a few more rules to help move some shows into their own separate genres as well. For a show to be considered a ‘limited series’, it must be a series of at least two or more episodes for a total running time of 150-minutes that tell a complete, non-recurring story with non-recurring characters. Dramas are defined as series that run at least six-episodes per season with recurring characters and stories.

So shows like ‘True Detective’, ‘Fargo’ and ‘American Horror Story’ can no longer be considered dramas and must be placed in the ‘limited series’ category because they don’t have recurring characters or stories that run season to season.

Where things get a big fuzzy are for shows like ‘Sherlock’, which only run for three episodes in a shortened season, but do have recurring characters and stories each time they hit the airwaves. The rule change does state producers can formally petition a review by the voting panel to change category eligibility. In other words, a series like ‘Sherlock’ will have to ask where they are placed because in reality they don’t fall into either drama or limited series with the current format of the show.

Guest Actor Changes

The guest actor/actress category has also been updated to state that a person eligible for this award has to appear in 50-percent or less of the episodes during a season.

The biggest changes will likely only affect the comedy vs. drama argument for certain shows, but the ‘limited’ series designation is interesting and takes the choice away for a show like ‘True Detective’ to be considered a drama versus a ‘limited’ series just because that’s how HBO wanted the show to be voted on. Now the academy decides it and there’s no argument over where a particular show belongs.

Unless you’re ‘Sherlock’ and then we have no idea where you go.

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