New Emmy Rules Prove the Emmys Officially Don’t Make Sense Anymore

The Emmys are meant to highlight the best of the best in television–or at least the TV shows that slipped the Television Academy the most money. And since every network has at least one critical and commercial hit, it gets a little harder each year to determine the nominees, let alone the winner.


Personally, I think the Emmys would go a lot more smoothly if you just had the nominees fight to the death for that little gold statue. Who wouldn’t want to see the cast of The Good Wife fight the cast of Mad Men? I think Julianna Margulies could take Jon Hamm. She looks scrappy.


She can stare off into the distance as good as him.

Last Friday, The Television Academy announced their new rules for the 2015 TV season. Some rules, like increasing the number of nominees from six to seven and allowing Academy members to vote in the final rounds, make the Emmy process fairer and easier to understand. However, some of the new rules only succeed in making the process stupider and more complicated. Let’s run down the new rules and a better solutions the Academy could have taken instead.

New rule:  Comedies will now be defined as half-hour series; anything longer is a drama

I know the general rule of the thumb is that comedies tend to be a half-hour long and dramas are generally an hour, but this new rule seems more like an excuse to arbitrarily pigeonhole dramedies based on length.

There’s always difficulty trying to place cross-genre shows like  Shameless, Jane the Virgin, Orange Is the New Black, or Transparent into one category. Orange Is the New Black is an hour-long series set in a depressing women’s prison–sounds like a drama–but then it has comedic storylines like finding a wild chicken in the prison yard or prisoners fighting to win a mock job fair. Transparent is a half-hour series where Jeffrey Tambor of Arrested Development fame–ooh, sounds like it might be funny–plays a transgender woman struggling to transition. It’s hard to draw the line where a dramatic show with a few funny moments becomes a comedy or vice versa.

Thanks to the new Emmy rules, Transparent will have to fight Modern Family in the comedy category and Orange Is the New Black will battle House of Cards. Shows will be allowed to appeal to the Academy about the genre they’re placed in, but it is unknown how many will succeed.

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My money is on Orange Is the New Black. You know why.

Better solution: Invent a new category called Best Cross-Genre Series and we’ll stick everything in there that confuses us

New rule: Miniseries series cannot have recurring characters or storylines

Well, duh, right? Miniseries are supposed to be self-contained, but recent shows like Downton Abbey, Sherlock, and Luther found a place in the Miniseries category instead of Drama since they had fewer episodes. However, with the new rule, they probably won’t find a nomination as easily.

I don’t know why miniseries are being firmly defined now. For God’s sake, for the past three years, miniseries and made-for-TV movies were merged together because there weren’t enough nominees for both categories. It’s an unnecessary rule that shuts out a lot of shows, so the Emmys shouldn’t be surprised if the miniseries category becomes clogged with Danielle Steele novel adaptations for networks you’ve never heard of. Why the sudden rule change now? Is it because British shows are hogging all the slots in the Best Miniseries categories?


Those darn immigrant coming in here and taking our slots!


Better solution: Accept that miniseries is too tiny to be its own category.

New rule: Miniseries will now be called “limited series”

That’s right, miniseries will be now officially known as “limited series.” I don’t know why the name change for miniseries sorry, limited series came about. I guess the “mini” part made the Academy feel a need to overcompensate for something, if you know what I mean. I mean, technically the category name is going back to its original roots of being called “Outstanding Limited Series,” but the mini name has been effective since 1986. Why the reversal after almost 30 years?

It is pointless name change to sound fancier and more exclusive, like how Domino’s is making “artisanal” pizzas. Shut up, Domino’s. We all know you didn’t fly to Italy to get me the mozzarella cheese on my medium pie. Stop trying to act so fancy with your fancy names and call a pepperoni pizza a pepperoni pizza and a miniseries a miniseries.

New Emmy Rules Prove the Emmys Officially Don't Make Sense Anymore

And if you can get them done in 30 minutes or less, that’d be great.

Better solution: Refer to miniseries limited series as “artisanal series” so we can all feel good about being fancy.

 New rule: Guest actors are only guests if they appear in 50% or less of a program’s episodes

The lines between recurring character and guest actor have been increasingly blurred over the years, and I can understand why this rule was made. Before, a guest character used to be a hot shot movie star who was in between roles and decided to pop over on a sitcom for an episode to boost ratings. Nowadays, a guest character is considered anyone who isn’t part of the main billing and wants an Emmy.

The new rule sounds good–true guest actors won’t be competing over supporting characters who had better material and longer episode arcs–but now recurring characters will have to compete with supporting characters for a nomination. Can you imagine how that’s going to affect shows with huge ensemble casts like Modern Family?


Alright, only one of you can be nominated so duke it out amongst yourselves.

Better solution: Invent a new category–Best Actor/Actress That Shows Up All the Damn Time even though They’re Not in the Opening Credits But They Were Still Really Good and They Deserve Some Sort of Award

Got an opinion on the new Emmy rules? Share in the comments below.

Susan Velazquez

Susan is a recent college grad and writer who enjoys all things from the 1980s, snarking on dumb television, and reveling in celebrity gossip. Oh, and she has serious interests like reading historical fiction, getting involved in social issues, and consuming French fries.

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