The 2023 Primetime Emmy Awards are throwing a surprise with new rule changes

In particular, revisions to the Variety and Documentary categories will ensure that the 2023 Emmys are more unpredictable.

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There’s no official starting flag for Emmys season, but the first day of May is pretty close. The Television Academy threw itself into the spring cleaning, also known as a rule change, before the hundreds of programs prepared for consideration.

A persistent and accurate complaint about the Primetime Emmy Awards is that voters tend to choose certain projects and individuals as winners over and over (and over). While the rules change every year to accommodate the ever-changing state of television, they often don’t break that monotony — until now.

Here’s a roundup of the most interesting changes for the 2023 Emmy season and why they matter.

Rule change: The Outstanding Variety Talk Series and Outstanding Variety Sketch Series have been replaced by two new categories, Outstanding Talk Series and Outstanding Scripted Variety Series.
Why it matters: Since 2003, every Outstanding Variety Talk Series Emmy has been featured on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” or a program hosted by an alumni; for the past seven years, the winner has been “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

This will not happen again. The new Emmy rules require Talk Series to devote the majority of an episode’s running time to “unscripted interviews or panel discussions between the host(s) and guest celebrities or personalities.” This definition displaces “John Oliver” and makes way for “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (ABC) or “Late Night with Seth Meyers” (NBC) — shows that produce far more late-night TV episodes — to break network TV’s decades-long losing streak in the category. But with “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” as repeat nominees, “Daily Show” dominance could continue.

In addition, the TV Academy threw another curveball last month by denying “Daily Show” progenitor Jon Stewart’s recurring series, “The Problem with Jon Stewart” (Apple TV+), a re-nomination in the Outstanding Host Awareness Series or Special category. for which he was last nominated. year. The awards panel deemed the show’s format better suited to the Outstanding Talk Series category, putting Stewart back in the running among the hosts he helped break out.

As for Oliver, “Last Week Tonight” will now compete against six-year incumbent “Saturday Night Live” in the Outstanding Scripted Variety Series category. But by removing “Sketch” from the category, these Emmy behemoths can compete with newer, innovative series like “Schmigadoon” (Apple TV+) or “Documentary Now!” (IFC). In the past two years, there have been only two nominees for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series, “Saturday Night Live” and “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” largely because nomination times are proportional to the number of entries.

White House Plumbers HBO Watergate Series Woody Harrelson Justin Theroux Toby Huss

“White House Plumbers”

Courtesy of Phil Caruso/HBO

Rule change: No more dependent episode rules for limited or anthology series
Why it matters: One of the biggest frustrations with last year’s Emmys was the influx of Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series contenders that showed up near the end of the eligibility period. While it was exciting to see star projects like “The Staircase” (HBO Max) and “Gaslit” (Starz) premiere week after week, this distribution strategy hurt many shows’ Emmy chances. The acting categories were dominated by shows like “The White Lotus” (HBO) and “Dopesick” (Hulu), which ended their runs much earlier in the season.

In an effort to consider more such projects this year, the TV Academy announced last summer that it would end the suspended episode rule that allowed limited series contenders to air national premieres after the May 31 deadline. The full season of a limited or anthology series must now be available to viewers before June. As a result, this year’s limited series contenders such as “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” (Netflix), “Fleishman Is in Trouble” (FX) and “White House Plumbers” (HBO) have shown the eligibility period.

Rule change: Documentaries submitted for the Academy Awards but not nominated for an Oscar can compete for the Emmy Award.
Why it matters: Last year, the TV Academy implemented strict rules for the outstanding documentary or fiction special categories, and filmmakers had to choose whether to put their documentary on the AMPAS streaming platform in exchange for an Oscar or submit their film for an Emmy. This year, the body that distributes the TV awards relaxed the rules so that some films will once again receive a double jump for the awards.

The five films nominated for this year’s Best Documentary Oscar still aren’t eligible for the Emmys, but films like Paramount+’s “Last Flight Home” (which made the Oscar shortlist) or Netflix’s “Id. at the qualifying autumn festival, you can submit the Outstanding Documentary or the Fiction Special. The only important stipulation is that if the film has been shown in cinemas, it cannot exceed 70 days before the exhibition (ie seven cinemas for 10 days). That means movies like “Good Night Oppy” (primary video) are still ineligible for Emmys.

Rule change: The Outstanding Game Show and Outstanding Host for a Game Show categories have moved to the Primetime Emmy Awards.
Why it matters: The Daytime Emmys just got a little smaller. A new category, Outstanding Game Show, will recognize programs with game elements that primarily take place inside a studio and involve mental challenges. Another new category, Outstanding Host for a Game Show, goes to the “master of ceremonies” host(s) for continuous appearances on a game show.

Given the resurgence of prime-time network games like ABC’s “Press Your Luck,” hosted by Elizabeth Banks, and NBC’s “Password,” hosted by Jimmy Fallon and Keke Palmer, the new categories add an extra dose of star power to Primetime for an Emmy Award (although winners are announced at the Creative Arts Emmys instead).

To avoid confusion, the Primetime Emmy Awards also changed the name of the Outstanding Competition Program category, which included unscripted shows like “Top Chef” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” to “Outstanding Reality Competition Program.”

The 75th Primetime Emmy Awards will air on September 18 at 8:00 p.m. on FOX.

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