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The Emmys Have Changed Their Arbitrary Rules to Be Differently Arbitrary

By Vivian Kane | Miscellaneous | February 20, 2015 |

By Vivian Kane | Miscellaneous | February 20, 2015 |

Most awards organizations seem to have a hard time staying in touch and relevant, but the Emmys (and Golden Globes, to an extent) have the additional burden of recognizing the “best” in an industry that’s been evolving at Jurassic Park life-finds-a-way rates. In an acknowledgement that they don’t really know what to do with sudden surge in content from cable, Netflix and Amazon, and whatever video game consoles and kitchen appliances are putting out shows now, the Television Academy has decided to shake up some of their rules. Will it help? I don’t know. It seems like they’re just replacing some arbitrary guidelines with differently arbitrary guidelines, but what do I know? Probably not too much more or less than the Academy.

Here are some of the major changes:

More nominees. The comedy and drama series categories will now each have seven nominees instead of six.

Changing the definition of a “Comedy” and “Drama” series. This is the one that’s gotten the hardest to judge. There was some upset last year when Orange Is the New Black was entered as a comedy series. Now all 30 minute shows are considered comedies and all hour-long shows are “presumed” to be dramas. This seems like a totally bonkers way to judge, though it’s true that there aren’t really many (or any?) half-hour dramas. But putting something like Orange Is the New Black or, let’s just say Jane the Virgin if it were to be nominated, up against something like True Detective seems like a crazy comparison. Oh, except that—

True Detective and Fargo aren’t drama series anymore. Now the category “Mini-Series” will be relabeled “Limited Series and will be

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.
So now something small and quiet like Olive Kitteridge would go up against the mega-popular spectacles of Fargo and True Detective. That seems… problematic.

To be fair, the Academy makes it pretty clear that they are open to changing these rules. They’re just trying something new. And they’re a panel in place to deal with shows that want to challenge their designated categories, so no, Jane the Virgin would never actually be up against a bunch of heavy-hitting dramas. So props to the Television Academy for trying to keep up. That’s probably going to be an uphill battle for a long while yet.