Emmy Awards may be due for an overhaul

Emmy Awards nominees this year have viewers scratching their heads. In the age of Web-based shows and the declining importance of a traditional TV season, is it time for the Emmy Awards to rethink its rules?

Jim Bridges/HBO/AP
'True Detective'

Binge-watching, the rise of Web-based shows – it’s no secret that the way we watch TV has changed. Shows such as “Game of Thrones” and “House of Cards” dominate the cultural conversation, and the idea of a TV “season” has morphed drastically, from Netflix releasing 13 episodes of “Orange Is the New Black” at once to HBO airing “Game of Thrones” for only two months. 

So, will the Emmy Awards, bestowed by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences as one of the highest honors a TV show can receive, reflect these cultural changes when the new winners are crowned Aug. 25? 

This year’s nominees already had viewers scratching their heads. HBO’s show “True Detective,” which ran for eight episodes and will have a new cast and story next season, is nominated for Outstanding Drama, but “Fargo,” which was only 10 episodes and will have many new actors next season, is nominated for Outstanding Miniseries. And the often-dark Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” has gotten the nod for ... Outstanding Comedy Series. Did we miss something?

Thomas Schatz, author and media professor at the University of Texas at Austin, can understand why the nominees this year are perplexing. “I can’t help but think there’s confusion when ‘Fargo’ is in one category and ‘True Detective’ is in another,” he says, adding that “the term ‘season’ doesn’t refer to anything that has to do with a calendar.”

Washington Post entertainment reporter Emily Yahr thinks the academy needs to decide how to deal with shows like “Orange Is the New Black” that straddle the drama-comedy line. “So many of these very dark shows have comedic elements,” she says. 

The Emmys made history in 2013 when the online-only show “House of Cards” was recognized in major categories. The question now is whether the academy will continue to update its eligibility rules to keep pace with the future of TV. 

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.