The presence of actual jokes, however, is still TBD.


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What becomes a comedy most? The Primetime Emmys are addressing that very question with some new changes to its nomination process.

The Television Academy announced today that they will no longer take into consideration a show's running time when categorizing it as a drama or comedy. Historically — or at least since 2015 — the Emmys have lumped any show that clocks in at or under 30 minutes in the comedy category, and any show longer than that in drama.

That has made for some serious head-scratchers over the years when darker, more serious half-hour shows like Atlanta and Barry have snatched up comedy noms and wins with nary a punchline in sight. Meanwhile, joke-heavy, lighter fare like your The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and your Crazy Ex-Girlfriend have dared to venture into the 45-minute, even hourlong territory usually reserved for prestige dramas.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4
Rachel Brosnahan on 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel'
| Credit: Christopher Saunders/Amazon Studios

Behold what streaming hath wrought! Chaos! In an attempt to make sense of Cobra Kai receiving an Outstanding Comedy Series nomination, the TV Academy wants to make sure that comedies have a minimum of six episodes whose "content is primarily comedic."

Comedies that are actually comedic ... what's Hollywood gonna do?

Dramas, naturally, must also be "primarily dramatic." While this is a refreshing change of pace, it doesn't truly address the elephant slipping on a banana peel while delivering a Shakespearean monologue in the room: the need for a third category — dramedy.

What about shows that are splitting the difference, offering up laughs and tears in equal measure? Shows whose tones are harder to nail down, often intentionally. I mean, when Succession is the funniest show on television, do the rules even matter anymore?

The Television Academy certainly hopes so. Among other notable changes announced today, the Academy's no longer falling for your "limited series returning with the same cast" hijinks. Looking at you, Big Little Lies, and the next season of The White Lotus featuring the incomparable Jennifer Coolidge.

Limited series — in order to be eligible for consideration in that category — must actually be limited. That is, "the story arc must be completely resolved within its season, with no on-going storyline and/or main characters in subsequent seasons."

The outcome of these rule changes will be apparent next year at the 74th Primetime Emmys. Maybe we'll see less of the one show dominating all categories trend that's been prevalent the last few years. Unless that show is White Lotus, in which, case, throw all the Emmys at it. Would that be considered a comedy or a drama, though ...?

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