The Emmys Needs to Change Eligibility Rules For Animated Shows

On Monday, Simpsons writer Al Jean wrote a letter to The  Academy of Television Arts and Sciences asking them to consider reworking the organization of Emmy nominations. In it, he criticized the lack of recognition for the individual achievements in animation. According to Emmy rules, a show nominated in the animation category  cannot also be nominated for a writing award. The Academy’s reason for this is apparently because of the collaborative efforts in animation. If the show so chooses, it can be nominated in the comedy category. Jean took issue with this, citing that NBC’s Community was given a one-time exception to this rule. Because it was a significant format change, it could technically be classified as a standalone special. I saw it and it did not  seem like a standalone special to me. Besides, Jean is right. Animation may be collaborative, but so is everything else in television.

This rule seems to ignore the hard work that multiple writers invest into an animated show. Animation is just as legitimate as the live action medium. Of course, it is a newer format, but that should not make it any less respected. The production of an animated series is much harder than that of a live action series. The writing is certainly not any easier. It makes no sense to have to ignore either one of these achievements.

This is an insult to a show that prides itself on its animation. Animated comedy and live action comedy are fundamentally different. Because of different budget constrains, they even tend to be written differently. Literally, the only limit that exists in terms of animated comedy premises is the limit of the imagination. It is much easier and cheaper to defy reality and, if so desired, the laws of physics in the medium of animation. If an animated comedy wants to be nominated for a writing credit, it must ignore its animation status.  This is an unfair thing to ask of these shows. It is very rare to see an episode of an animated sitcom that could be written the exact same way as a live action sitcom. That does not mean that the surreal writing of an animated show should be any less acclaimed.

There is no doubt that the genres are different. Just because they are both meant to be funny does not mean the writing should be lumped into the same category. It simply isn’t the same. The individual elements that are recognized in a sitcom need to also be recognized in an animated show. An animated show has the unfair choice of either ignoring its writing merits or ignoring the true nature of its very medium.

I do not see what the problem would be with adding an award for “Outstanding Writing in an Animated Series”. Under the current rules, the animation medium is placed at an unfair disadvantage. Presently, the Academy is basically saying that animated shows deserve less of a chance to receive an award. This is not at all the case. The only other way to even out the rule is to eliminate the Writing Category citing collaborative elements of all formats. Of course, this is completely impractical. Writing is a difficult part of television regardless of format. Animation is a very difficult format to write for. It should be acknowledged as such and given proper recognition with its own award.

Posted on June 20, 2012, in Comedy, Emmy's, Fox, NBC, Network Television, Primetime and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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