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Emmy Nominations: Did the Rule Changes Work?

Now that the 2015 Emmy nominations have been unveiled, it’s worth a look at this year’s sweeping rule changes to see the impact on the key races.

“Our new rules provided clarity and answered many of the gray area questions of prior years,” said TV Academy chairman Bruce Rosenblum. “The general consensus is that these rule changes were very effective this year.”

See More: Emmy Awards: ‘Game of Thrones’ Soars With 24 Nominations

More nominees:

The expansion of the comedy and drama series races from six to seven nominees allowed for new blood to make its way into both categories, most notably in the comedy category, which saw considerable shakeup. Perennial nominee “The Big Bang Theory” was ousted in favor of freshman series “Transparent” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” Still, that didn’t leave enough room in the drama race for any recognition of broadcast: Fox’s big hit “Empire” didn’t make the cut.

Category definitions:

This year, hourlong shows were redefined as dramas, and half-hours as comedies — which meant Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” had to switch categories and compete in the tougher drama field. Yet it prevailed and won a nom, earning four overall. Compare that total, though, to its 12 overall last year, when it was considered a comedy.

The 2% rule:

For the first time, the Academy decided the 2% rule would apply to series lead and supporting performer categories. This rule means the categories will continue to have six nominees, but could have seven or up to eight nominees if the next highest vote getters have a vote margin of 2% within the sixth highest vote-getter. That’s why the lead actor in a comedy race has seven nominees, and the supporting actress in a comedy race has eight.

Supporting actors vs. guest stars:

It’s hard to quantify who might have been nominated and didn’t, given the rule changes dictating that a “guest star” appeared in less than half of a given show’s episodes. “Scandal’s” Joe Morton, who won guest actor in a drama last year, failed to earn a nod as supporting actor this year, since he had to compete in that competitive field this time around thanks to a boosted episode count. Industry insiders grumbled that the rules changes were instituted after seasons were already planned, at which point it was too late for them to alter their creative decisions. (It’s worth noting that Morton’s onscreen ex-wife, Khandi Alexander, was nominated for her guest star turn.)

Variety talk & sketch:

Last year, sketch series like “Inside Amy Schumer” had to compete with the likes of “The Tonight Show” and “The Daily Show.” Now, separated out with their own variety sketch category, Amy Schumer, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele can not only enjoy noms for their series, but they’ve also been recognized for their acting work.

Final round voting:

As for the elimination of the blue ribbon panels to dictate winners, that remains to be seen. The voting is now in the hands of the Academy’s 18,500 members — or will be, come August.

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