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.

More TV

  • amazon-studios

    YouTube Head of Scripted Jon Wax in Talks to Join Amazon Studios

    YouTube’s head of scripted programming, Jon Wax, is in talks to join Amazon Studios, according to an individual with knowledge of the matter. Wax is said to be in discussions for head of genre programming at Amazon, a position held by Sharon Tal Yguado until recently. Variety reported on her exit in early May. The [...]


    MTV's 'Are You The One?' Shifts to Sexually Fluid Contestants for New Season

    MTV’s dating reality show “Are You The One?” is addressing changing attitudes regarding sexuality and gender identity by featuring sexually fluid contestants on the show’s eighth season, which bows June 27. The shift from the show’s past focus on heterosexual relationships is part of the larger effort at MTV to be relevant to younger viewers [...]

  • TV News Roundup: Amazon Drops 'Carnival

    TV News Roundup: Amazon Drops 'Carnival Row' Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s roundup, Amazon drops the first official trailer for “Carnival Row,” starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne. DATES August 1 will see the premiere of HGTV’s “Flip or Flop,” which follows divorced couple Christina Anstead and Tarek El Moussa as they figure out their relationship as co-parents and business partners. In the 18-episode season, the [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    What 'The Office' Shifting Platforms Means for Netflix (Column)

    The most important television show of this unusual moment may just be one whose last new episode aired in 2013. “The Office” was, in its first life in the U.S., a beloved workplace comedy (based on a British series) that ran for nine seasons on NBC. In its protracted afterlife, though, it was known to [...]

  • Adam Scott Calls Out Mitch McConnell's

    Adam Scott Calls Out Mitch McConnell's Social Media Team for Using His Image on Twitter

    Adam Scott took to social media on Wednesday to tell Mitch McConnell’s reps not to use his image after the politician’s social media team tweeted a “Parks and Recreation” gif featuring Scott. “Dear Mitch McConnell & all those representing him, please refrain from using my image in support of anything but your own stunning [and] [...]

  • Riz Ahmed

    'Lives Are Quite Literally at Stake': Riz Ahmed on Seeing More Muslims On Screen

    Art can provoke feeling, but its impact has limitations in the face of legal and systemic oppression, said Riz Ahmed, the activist and actor known for “The OA,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “The Night Of,” onstage at the CAA Amplify conference in Ojai on Tuesday, calling for the high-powered industry execs, talent, [...]

  • Discovery Corporate New Logo

    Discovery Faces Backlash From Unscripted Producers After Shift in Series Payment Process

    Discovery Inc. is facing a backlash from the unscripted production community following a shift in the cable giant’s protocol for paying for programming. During the past year, Discovery has implemented a new system that calls for the company to pay producers for shows after all episodes and related material for a given season have been [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content