The nominations for the 2014 Emmys garnered a larger discussion than the usual snubs and surprises. When Netflix submitted its breakout hit Orange Is the New Black as a comedy and HBO submitted its massive success True Detective as a drama, many felt the Television Academy needed to update its rules to reflect the changing landscape of television.
The Emmys' executive producer Don Mischer and Chairman and CEO of the Television Academy Bruce Rosenblum addressed these concerns at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in July 2014.
"I think it's less that the rules have become more fluid. I think what's happened is that our industry's evolved," Rosenblum said at the time. "I mean, if you look at the kinds of shows that are being produced and the networks that are ordering shows today, we didn't have Netflix ordering shows. You didn't have HBO ordering eight episodes of a series like True Detective. So we need to be responsive to the way that the industry's evolving."
And on Friday, they did. The Television Academy announced extensive changes that will have a massive impact on next year's Emmys. Not only will the number of nominees in the Comedy and Drama categories increase from six to seven, but there are more direct guidelines as to what qualifies as a drama versus a comedy, which address the feedback surrounding OITNB.
Moving forward, series whose episodes are 30 minutes or less will be defined as comedies and those with episodes of more than 30 minutes will be considered dramas. Under these guidelines, OITNB would be considered a drama. According to the Television Academy's release, producers can petition a new nine-member academy panel — which will consist of five industry leaders appointed by the Television Academy chairman and four appointees from the Board of Governors — to consider their series in the alternative category. A two-thirds vote is required in order for a petition to be approved. BuzzFeed News' request for comment from Netflix about whether or not they would petition on behalf of OITNB was not immediately answered.
The other major change is in the miniseries categories, which have been renamed "Limited Series." In order to be considered in these categories, a program must be at least two episodes with a total running time of at least 150 minutes "that tell a complete, non-recurring story, and do not have an ongoing storyline and/or main characters in subsequent seasons." By comparison, the Comedy and Drama categories include programs with at least six episodes that "have an ongoing storyline, theme and main characters presented under the same title and with continuity of production supervision." The change will affect True Detective, which under the new rules, will have to be submitted as a Limited Series going forward. A representative for HBO told BuzzFeed News they have no plans to petition.
And the Variety Series category is also seeing a major development: It will be split into two categories: Outstanding Variety Talk, which will be presented during the Primetime Emmys, and Outstanding Variety Sketch, which will be part of the Creative Arts Emmys.
Other adjustments to the Television Academy's guidelines include the guest actor categories, for which a performer must appear in less than 50% of a program's episodes to be eligible. The academy has also extended voting rights for the final round to all eligible voters. In order to be eligible, voters need to meet two qualifications: They must "must watch the required submitted material online" and they need to be able to "attest to no specific conflicts of interest with the nominees."
This post has been updated with comments from Showtime and HBO.
Jane the Virgin, Glee, and Shameless will be considered comedies at the 2015 Emmys, despite being hour-long shows, the Television Academy announced on Tuesday. A two-thirds vote from a panel comprised of five industry leaders appointed by the Academy Chairman and four appointees by the Board of Governors was needed to approve the change.