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Emmys: 'Orange Is The New Black' To Run As Drama, Ruled Ineligible For Comedy Race

While a TV Academy panel allowed hourlong dramedies Glee, Jane the Virgin and Shameless to compete as comedies in the 2015 Primetime Emmy race, it has turned down Netflix’s petition for Orange Is the New Black to also be considered a comedy.

television academy“ATAS has notified us that the Industry Panel has advised that Season Two of Orange Is the New Black is eligible for the 2015 Primetime Emmy competition as a Drama Series,” the streaming service said. While it was initially submitted as a drama at several 2013 and 2014 guild awards as well as the 2014 Golden Globes, Orange competed as a comedy at the Emmys last year, garnering a slew of nominations, including best comedy series, and winning three awards, including best guest actress in a comedy series, Uzo Aduba.

Orange is the New Black is a truly pioneering series and an iconoclast which has always defied genre or easy categorization,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer. “While we’re disappointed in the committee’s decision, we believe that Orange represents the best of television in either category.”

comedydramamasksThe panel’s rulings will likely reignite the debate about the genre distinctions in the Emmy categories, with some hourlong comedic dramas, like Showtime’s Shameless, allowed to compete alongside traditional half-hour comedies, and some, like Orange, denied. Both Shameless and Orange switched from drama to comedy consideration with the 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards. (Shameless had competed as a drama for three seasons prior.)

The TV Academy sought to address the comedy-drama controversy with the recent rule changes, which included adopting a new definition for comedy series as a 30-minute program last month. However, the TV Academy left the door open for hourlong comedic shows to argue their case in a petition to an Industry Panel. In the panel’s first rulings earlier this week, Shameless, Jane The Virgin and Glee were allowed to be submitted as comedy series. A two-thirds vote of the panel is required to reach each decision.

Per the TV Academy, the members of the panel are anonymous, so their names will not be revealed. They are asked to watch as many episodes of the show in question as needed to make an informed decision, including individually assigned episodes. How did they determine what defines a comedy? “They evaluate the content of the series as to whether it predominantly takes a comedic or dramatic approach to the material.”

  1. on that note they should make ‘girls’ a Drama as well because it’s about as funny as cancer.

      1. Says some anonymous troll who hasn’t achieved a damn thing in life and will be entirely forgotten less than five minutes after they croak.

  2. Here’s the solution… add a third category for dramedies, but only for the show itself, and allow the other potential nominees (actors, writers, directors, etc) to submit in either comedy or drama based on the type of work they felt they were doing in their submitted episodes.

    1. That might be a good idea. The acting categories should then be “Best Comedic Performance by a Lead Actor” or “Best Dramatic Performance by a Lead Actress”… in a Series and not “Lead Actor in COMEDY SERIES” etc. That would be very interesting.

  3. While Orange often indulges in the lighter side of life, it’s more often than not pretty potent drama. It’s a great show but ultimately putting it into the comedy category doesn’t quite fit.

  4. And rightfully so. I love OITNB but I LOVE the fact that the industry is finally cracking their whip on the absolutely transparent phenomena that’s been going on. I was disappointed they let Shameless compete as a comedy but this is still an improvement.

    Now if only the golden globes would get serious about this issue as well. ‘Birdman’ a comedy??? Come on HFPA…

  5. Is the self-described “camp” Empire a comedy? Better Call Saul has better executed comedy than the lame sitcoms. I laugh more with those two shows than anything on air.

    1. Empire is not trying to pass itself off as anything but a drama.

      The Emmys are just courting trouble. Shameless is a drama.

      1. On this very website, the creators themselves describe Empire as camp. Hmmm, women in a cat fight? Drama? It’s in the same catagory as Orange and Saul – dramedy.

  6. How about ‘Transparent’? Sure it’s 30 minutes but it is in no way a comedy. There are more intentionally funny moments in one episode of OITNB than the entire first season of ‘Transparent’.

  7. Generally speaking I have absolutely no problem with Orange is the New Black being forced to submit in the drama race. However, I’d be genuinely fascinated to know exactly what distinction the Emmy board is making that allows Shameless to enter as a comedy but not Orange. In fact I’d just quite like to know how anyone is justifying Shameless in the comedy race. It truly defies reason to me.

  8. Very good decision. As an Academy member, I appreciate the effort that has been put into clarifying the subject of comedy vs drama. It’s unfortunate to see so many studios, and production companies, trying to game the award system. Personally, last year was very confusing for me. I’ve never found OITNB to be inherently ‘funny’, in the traditional sense. Although it’s a very ‘good’ show, clearly, at it’s inception, ‘comedy’ was not the intent. The Emmy Awards© are continually looking to the future as technology and delivery systems are evolving. However, comedy will always be comedy, and drama will always be drama. Blurring the lines only serves to create an unfair playing field.

    Thank you to everyone at The Academy for your ongoing efforts to keep the awards legitimate and meaningful.

    1. And what happens when you have something the straddles the line between both, as life does and most of the best TV happening nowadays does?

      The drama/comedy comparison is always a false one, because technically it is all drama, and the two poles of drama are COMEDY and TRAGEDY. The best comedies have tragic elements just like the best tragedies have comedic elements.

      As for as OITNB, the tone over the first and the tone ever the second season definitely flipped (the first season had more comedic tones, the second season had more tragic tones) and I like that you can shift it depending on the story.

      And no one really talks about how comedies used to submit “very special episodes” of their series for Emmy consideration.

      The whole system is a game. The Academy’s focus should be about recognizing the best in TV. If OITNB misses out on Emmy consideration, they need to figure something out, because for a huge piece of the American viewing audience, it does represent some of the best of TV right now.

    2. I’m vexed that we are saying the TV producers are gaming the system when the only thing Netflix, et al can do is submit in a category. It’s still up to the Emmy voters to, well, vote.

      Let the producers submit in any category they wish. Hannibal (IMO, best show on TV) as a Comedy? Sure. Big Bang as a Drama? Sure.

      And why, may I ask, does the TV Academy not trust its own members to determine if a show belongs in a category? Obviously last year, WE decided that OITNB belonged in Comedy. There seems to have been some maneuvering to fix a problem that did not exist.

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