Emmys Change Rule Blamed for Letting a Few Shows Hog the Nominations

The Television Academy has ended the six-year run of letting members vote for an unlimited number of contenders in each category

Emmys statute (Getty Images)
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After enduring complaints that the Emmy nominating process was responsible for a handful of programs grabbing an inordinate number of acting nominations every year, the Television Academy has taken steps to alter a system that has helped shows like “The White Lotus,” “Dopesick,” “Succession” and “Ted Lasso” rack up enough nominations to swamp some categories.

In a rule change announced on Tuesday morning, Emmy voters will no longer be permitted to vote for as many entries in a category as they think are worthy of a nomination, which they’ve been able to do since 2017. Instead, a new rule specifies, “The number of selections each voting member is allowed to make per category in first-round voting will now be capped at the number of nominations specified for that category.”

In most cases, that means Television Academy members will be able to vote for five or six candidates in each category, with a few categories allowing more. (Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Comedy Series, for example, are set at eight nominees.)

The old rule, which read, “Vote for all entries in this category that you have seen and feel are worthy of a nomination,” allowed voters to check the boxes for an unlimited number of contenders, which gave a decided advantage to the highest-profile, most popular shows that often found almost their entire casts nominated.

“The Television Academy rule is making its voters look lazier and more narrow-minded than they might be,” TheWrap wrote in August. “If you look at the trend since 2017, it’s inescapable that allowing people to vote for everything has damaged the breadth of the nominations and hurt the image of those who vote for them.”

The new rule will take the system back to what was in place prior to 2017, when the biggest shows still racked up multiple nominations but didn’t dominate the way they have in recent years.

In another significant rule change, the Outstanding Variety Talk Series and Outstanding Variety Sketch Series categories have been replaced by Outstanding Talk Series and Outstanding Scripted Variety Series.

The new categories are defined this way:

Outstanding Talk Series: Programs where a significant portion of the running time consists of unscripted interviews or panel discussions between a host/hosts and guest celebrities or personalities. A Talk Series can include scripted elements and other aspects of a variety series such as monologues, musical performances, etc., so long as the main intent of the program is interviews/discussions.

Outstanding Scripted Variety Series: Programs that are primarily scripted or feature loosely scripted improv and consist of discrete scenes, musical numbers, monologues, comedy stand-ups, sketches, etc. Scripted Variety Series may occasionally feature unscripted elements, but the main intent of the series is scripted or performed entertainment.

Over the past few years, the variety-sketch series has been on life support, with fewer qualifying shows resulting in two consecutive years of only two nominees in the category. Normally, Television Academy rules would have called for the elimination of the category or its absorption into another category, but variety-talk is the home of “Saturday Night Live,” the most-nominated and winningest show in Primetime Emmy history.

While it remains to be seen how the new categories will affect the competition, it may give “SNL” a slightly larger category to call home.

Other rule changes include combining the single-camera and multi-camera picture editing comedy categories into a single new category, Outstanding Picture Editing for a Comedy Series; combining single-camera and multi-camera cinematography categories; adding triggers that could split categories that reach a certain number of submissions; and making line producers eligible to receive Emmys in four talk and variety categories.

The full list of rules can be found at http://emmys.com/rules/changes.