Emmy season is almost upon us, with the yearly celebration of all things television kicking off with nominations this week.
Before that begins — and before fans can begin cheering for the nominations and lamenting the many, unavoidable snubs in equal measure — EW has compiled answers to a few of the perennial questions plaguing the ceremony, along with everything you need to know to prepare for your Emmy nomination breakfast (or brunch) and Emmy night party.
1. When are the Emmy nominations announced?
You won’t have to wait long to find out who is nominated. Emmy nominations will be revealed Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ET. Orange Is the New Black’s Uzo Aduba and So You Think You Can Dance’s Cat Deeley will host the presentation. (John Stamos was originally set to present alongside Aduba, but he pulled out in order to enter a treatment program for substance abuse.)
2. When does the actual Emmys ceremony air?
The ceremony will air on Fox on Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. ET. The airtime is actually a return to its normal timeframe after 2014’s ceremony aired almost a full month earlier, in August.
3. Who is hosting the Emmys?
Andy Samberg will present the Emmys. The Emmys rotates networks each year, and the master of ceremonies is usually a prominent actor or personality from the host network, as is the case with Samberg on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. (Though hopefully he’ll find some room for his Lonely Island cohorts.)
4. How does one become nominated for an Emmy?
That’s where things start to get complicated. The Emmy bylaws – the rules and regulations surrounding the event – can read like a strange artifact from an earlier time, though there have often been updates that offset some of — though not all of — TV’s evolution (more on that later). Still, Emmy rules (which are fascinating to read if you have the time or stamina) often result in so many beloved shows and performances being snubbed.
5. What does it actually take to be a nominee?
Shows and performances are eligible if they aired between June 1, 2014 and May 31, 2015. However, there are some exceptions. If more than half of a show’s episodes aired during the eligibility period, then the entire show can be nominated. For example, HBO can submit Game of Thrones’ “Hardhome,” because it snuck in under the wire, airing May 31. If HBO wants to petition for nominations for episodes 9 or 10 of the fifth season, those entries are eligible as well.
There are also patterns that have developed over the years that, while not actual rules, have helped dictate which shows get nominated. Been nominated before and still well-loved among the Television Academy? Then your show has a much better chance of being nominated. But are you a well-liked show on a small network – say, Fortitude on Pivot or Kingdom on DirecTV? Then your chances are slimmer than that of an HBO or Showtime series. For more on the intricacies and politics of it all, Vox has a primer which is a great explainer of what does and doesn’t aid a show or actor’s chances in the race.
6. What has changed for this year’s rules?
Quite a bit, actually. The biggest change may be in the Drama and Comedy category classifications. The Academy announced earlier this year that dramas are now defined as shows that air 60-minute episodes, while comedies are 30-minute episodes.
Shows and networks can petition to override that new distinction, and some already have. Jane the Virgin, Shameless, and Glee will be considered comedies, while Orange Is the New Black will be classified as a drama. There will be seven series competing in each category this season, however, as opposed to six last year.
7. What about all of those “anthology” series?
Last year the idea of an “anthology” series — self-contained season arcs that won’t continue on into a new season — began to show the issues in the Emmy nomination process. True Detective was nominated in the drama category, while Fargo and American Horror Story: Coven were both nominated as miniseries.
In an effort to somewhat redefine the parameters, the Academy is changing the “Miniseries” title to “Limited Series.” A “Limited Series” is, as the Academy describes it: “a program with two or more episodes with a total running time of at least 150 program minutes, that tells a complete, non-recurring story, and does not have an ongoing storyline and/or main characters in subsequent seasons.” The cap seems to be five episodes, as the Academy also clarifies that comedies and dramas will be shows with six or more episodes “in which the ongoing story line, theme and main characters are presented under the same title and have continuity of production supervision.”
Will a show still be able to find a loophole in the new rules? Possibly, but for now, the Academy looks to be taking steps to curtail the issues for which it has received criticism in this area.
8. Any other major category changes?
The “Guest” acting categories have new stipulations. No longer guided by the onscreen credit in an episode, actors submitting as guest actors must appear in less than 50 percent of the episodes submitted. Additionally, the “Variety” series has been split into two – Outstanding Variety Talk Series and Outstanding Variety Sketch Series. The former will be awarded during the Primetime Emmy broadcast while the latter will be awarded during the Creative Arts Awards. There are plenty of other changes in other categories, all of which are viewable here.
9. How many categories are there?
Last year’s Emmy awards included 36 major categories and over 100 total categories between the main and Creative Arts Emmys ceremonies. This year will still dole out honors in over 100 total groupings with the addition of new categories like the Variety sketch and talk split.
10. Where does the name Emmy come from?
“Emmy” was originally “Immy,” as suggested by the Academy’s third president, Harry Lubcke. The name referred to the image orthicon camera tube used in the early days of television. However, the name was later changed to Emmy to reflect what they thought was a more feminine name to coincide with the Emmy statue.
11. Can anyone complete an EGOT this year?
Actually, yes! The quest for an EGOT — Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony — is a difficult one, but if nominations work in Alan Menken’s favor, he may be on his way to completing an EGOT. Menken was involved with the music for ABC’s Galavant, and if the show earns a Creative Arts Emmy nomination, he could add the “E” to his “GOT” this year.