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.
“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.”
The 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.”