“Black Mirror” is back in the Emmy TV movie race. The second episode of the Netflix series’ fifth season, “Smithereens,” will be submitted in the TV movie and movie/mini categories this year, insiders confirm — potentially keeping its Emmy streak going.
The submission will also bring Emmy winner Andrew Scott (“Fleabag”) to the movie/mini lead actor race, where he’ll now be competing. Scott, Damson Idris and Topher Grace star in “Black Mirror: Smithereens,” about “a cab driver with an agenda who becomes the center of attention on a day that rapidly spirals out of control.”
“Smithereens” clocks in at 70 minutes, which technically doesn’t make it eligible for the TV movie race; as of last year, the Emmy rules require a minimum 75-minute runtime. But Netflix successfully petitioned the Television Academy to allow the episode to be entered, since it was just five minutes shy of the requirement.
Otherwise, it wasn’t clear where “Black Mirror” would have landed this year in the Emmy competition. Season 5 of “Black Mirror,” released on June 5 last year, contained just three episodes. That put the anthology series in a tough spot: A minimum of six episodes must air within the current eligibility year to qualify as a drama series; limited series are defined as a program with two or more episodes that tell a “complete, non-recurring story”; and then there are the TV movie rules — “an original program, which tells a story with beginning, middle and end, and is broadcast in one part with a minimum running time of 75 minutes.”
Ironically, the Academy adopted the 75-minute rule in December 2018, believed to be directly as a result of back-to-back wins by the Charlie Brooker anthology series. Specifically, after the show won the Emmy for outstanding television movie in both 2017 (“San Junipero”) and 2018 (“USS Callister”). “USS Callister” would have still been eligible, as it ran for 76 minutes, but “San Junipero” was only 61 minutes long.
In 2019, “Black Mirror” won the TV movie Emmy for a third year in a row, for “Bandersnatch,” which was indeed a standalone film, clocking in at 90 minutes.
“Black Mirror: Smithereens” will enter a race that also includes special standalone movies of past series, including “Breaking Bad” (with Netflix’s “El Camino”), Amazon’s “Transparent” (with its “Musicale Finale”) and Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” movie “Kimmy vs. the Reverend.”
Other contenders in the race include HBO’s “Bad Education,” Netflix’s “American Son” and Lifetime’s “Patsy and Loretta.”