Emmy Awards Changes Rules For Comedy, Drama & Limited Series

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Last year, FX’s John Landgraf loudly complained when HBO submitted True Detective as a drama series instead of a limited series. And it seems that many within the industry agreed with Landgraf’s stance.

True Detective wasn’t the only show that was previously allowed to choose its own category. Orange Is The New Black and Shameless were able to be submitted as comedies instead of dramas. But going forward, the rules have been changed.

Earlier today, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced sweeping changes to the Emmy Awards rules and categories. The Miniseries category has been renamed as Limited Series and redefined as a “complete, non-recurring story” with at least two episodes totaling at least 150 minutes that feature no ongoing story lines or main characters. That would disqualify FX’s Fargo,  2014’s Miniseries Emmy winner which will have one character return in a prequel to the first season.

However, True Detective would also be locked out of the drama category, since the rules now state that dramas are shows which tell “ongoing stories in runs of at least six episodes.” British dramas Sherlock and Luther will also be squeezed by these new rules.

Related: ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Modern Family’ & ‘Sherlock’ Take The 2014 Emmy Awards

But the biggest change took place in the comedy category, as the Academy decided that comedies are only half hour series, period. There is an appeals process, which may allow some one hour comedy series or dramedy series to enter the comedy category, but it’s no longer up to the network or the show’s creative team to decide. Shameless and Orange Is The New Black will likely be hit the hardest by this change.

Limited series and dramas will also have a chance to petition for special placement. Other rule changes include a restriction of a guest actor or actress to a performer who appears in less than half of the series’ episodes. The Variety Series category has also been split into two, with Variety Talk to focus on the late night talk shows and Variety Comedy to put a spotlight on sketch comedy shows including Saturday Night Live and Portlandia.

All of these changes should make for some intriguing Emmy campaigns as the networks adjust to their new reality. But there is some good news as well: the Outstanding Comedy and Outstanding Drama series nominations will now include seven shows instead of six.

The 2015 Emmy Awards will take place on Sunday, September 20.