FX Networks CEO John Landgraf today threw his hat in the debate over what constitutes a drama series and a miniseries for Emmy consideration and whether an hourlong series can enter as a comedy, challenging the TV Academy to stiffen its criteria and create stricter category guidelines.
FX anthology series American Horror Story shook up the Emmy landscape three years ago when it opted to submit itself as a miniseries, not a drama series. The race was jolted again this year when HBO’s True Detective took the opposite stance, identifying itself as a drama series. “In our minds this is a series, and the only reason to enter it as a miniseries was a cynical reason that didn’t feel like the right thing to do,” HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told Deadline last week.
Landgraf today defended the network’s decision to submit AHS as a miniseries, objected to HBO’s decision to have True Detective compete as drama series, and called on the TV Academy to better define its categories. “I don’t think it’s cynical to enter AHS as a miniseries,” he said. “I don’t look at it that way. The definition should be a miniseries has a story that ends, a series has a story that continues on.” Landgraf argued that limited series have the advantage to attract bigger-caliber actors, like True Detective‘s Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as well as Billy Bob Thornton who toplines FX’s limited series Fargo. “It’s unfair for HBO to get actors that you can’t normally get to do a series who would do a close-ended show and pack the (drama actor) category. That is patently unfair to people like (The Americans’) Matthew Rhys who signed for seven years.” Right now, TV Academy defines shows like AHS and True Detective as having “dual eligibility,” with the series producers left to decide in which of the two categories they are eligible for they would compete.
Landgraf also had an issue with comedy-drama hourlong shows competing as comedies, clearly referring to Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black‘s and Showtime’s Shameless‘ decision to enter the comedy field. “Comedy is primarily designed to make you laugh, not make you cry,” he said, arguing that the emotional punch hourlong dramas with comedic elements pack gives them unfair advantage over traditional half-hour comedies. He noted that FX never submitted its firefighter drama Rescue Me as a comedy. “I think Rescue Me was funnier than a lot of comedies, but it was a drama.”
Emmy rules are not only issue Landgraf was peeved about. He also took on SVOD providers like Netflix for not giving FX proper credit for the network’s shows they stream while heavily promoting their originals with their brand. “It galls me when I see Sons Of Anarchy presented like it is a Netflix show,” he said.