The 2021 Emmys Add An Award For Stunt Performers, Change Nomination Rules For TV Movies, Anthology Series & More

After the 2020 Emmys ceremony went virtual this year due to COVID-19, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic will still be felt when the 2021 Emmys come around next fall. The Television Academy has instituted some rule changes for next year's awards, and along with some standard housekeeping and restructuring, they've changed the rules for consideration for TV movies since so many movies intended for theaters ended up being released on television instead. Plus, they've also added a category for stunt performers. You can find out about this and all the recent 2021 Emmys rules changes below.

Stunt Performers Category Created

Variety provided a breakdown of some of the major 2021 Emmys rules (via The Television Academy) changes that will go into effect for hopeful nominees for next year's TV awards, starting with TV movies. But first, let's get excited about a new category.

For a long time now, there has been a call from stunt performers for the major film and TV awards ceremonies to honor the hard work that they put into our entertainment. The Television Academy has honored stunt coordination with an award (which is more than the Oscars have done on the film side), but the stunt performers themselves have been left out in the wind. But now they've created a category for Outstanding Stunt Performance by an Individual or Team in a Drama, Comedy, Limited Series or TV Movie. The organization said:

"This new award will recognize stunt performers themselves; previously, there have only been stunt coordination categories. The award will acknowledge actual stunt artists whose performances across the global television medium are integral to storytelling each season. Team entries will be capped at four entrants."

Rule Changes

Meanwhile, the rules are changing for other categories in the 2021 Emmys. Since this is meant to honor television programming, The Television Academy is making sure that theatrical motion pictures don't try to game the system by making a run for both Emmys and Oscars simply because they were released on the small screen instead of in theaters. So they've made this change:

"To clarify the distinction between theatrical motion pictures and television movies during the ongoing pandemic, any non-documentary film placed on the [Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] viewing platform for Oscar consideration will be deemed a theatrical motion picture and thus ineligible for the Emmy competition."

So any movie that is being put up for consideration as a theatrical film by way of a submission on the AMPAS website cannot also compete in the Emmys. That means any movies that were forced to play on television will have to choose whether they want to try for an Emmy nomination or an Oscar nomination. This goes along with the decision earlier this year to disqualify any programs that are nominated for Oscars from being considered for the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Another change will address the complaints some creators have had about how anthology series are classified by The Television Academy. Previously, anthology programs were allowed to be submitted in either the drama or comedy series categories, or individual episodes could be submitted as stand-alone TV movies. Netflix in particular took advantage of this situation by submitting episodes of Black Mirror as TV movies. But they won't be allowed to do that thanks to an updated category.

Next year will see the launch of the award for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series. So now anthology shows that aren't serial programming will compete alongside limited series. Though that seems like an easy fix to the previous complaints, it will make the limited series category that much more competitive. And considering the fact that last year saw over 250 submissions in that category, it's going to be pretty hard to score a nomination. The Television Academy said in a statement:

"This will align storytelling formats throughout the competition. Individual achievements will compete in the relevant categories as defined by the program category."

Meanwhile, the arenas of talk shows and sketch shows will be a little more competitive since Outstanding Variety Talk Series and Outstanding Variety Sketch Series have been combined into one category, Outstanding Variety Series. That means the likes of awards favorites such as Saturday Night Live and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver will be going head-to-head in a single category.

The two categories actually used to be combined at the Emmys, but talk and sketch shows each got their own category in 2015, largely due to the growth in talk shows at the time. But in the years since, the number of sketch shows has declined, so it makes a little more sense to combine them into one. At the same time, this doesn't address the complaints from the talk show side of things where entrants have pointed out that placing weekly talk shows against nightly talk shows isn't all that fair. But the good news is if there are over 80 projects submitted in this new single category, then there can be up to six nominees instead of five.

If you'd like to find out about 2021 Emmys rule changes for some of the more technical awards, you can head over to The Television Academy website to read about all the changes being made. Otherwise, the eligibility period for next year's Emmys is from June 1, 2020 through May 31, 2021. Nominations will be announced on July 13, and the 73rd Emmys broadcast will happen on a date that has yet to be determined in September 2021. But due to the extenuating circumstances, all dates are subject to change.