2021 Emmys Won't Combine Variety Talk And Sketch Categories After All

Late last year, the Television Academy announced that the 2021 Emmys coming this fall would see some rule changes and updates. Along with the addition of a category for stunt performers and creating a clear distinction between theatrical motion pictures and television movies released during the pandemic, the Television Academy was going to combine the categories for Outstanding Variety Talk Series and Outstanding Variety Sketch Series into a single category. But now the organization has reversed course.

The Hollywood Reporter called our attention to a brief statement from the Academy about pulling back on the rule change for variety talk and sketch shows that was announced last year.

"The Television Academy's Board of Governors has reviewed its recent decision to merge the Variety Series program categories and has determined Variety Talk and Variety Sketch Series will remain separate categories for the 73rd Emmy Awards.

While the Academy remains concerned about the number of series produced and the relatively small pool of entries in the Variety Sketch genre, it acknowledges that the differences between Variety Sketch and Talk programs merit separate consideration. As the Academy continues to engage with industry leaders and constituents, it will always endeavor to uphold the integrity of the competition and be as fair as possible."

If this rule change would have gone through, it would have pit heavy-hitters like Saturday Night Live and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver against each other. The reason the change was even considered was because the number of overall contenders in each category had dwindled in recent years, and The Television Academy has a police where the number of nominees allowed is tied to the number of eligible contenders. But it was not a change that the TV community in those categories was pleased with.

However, there was a time that variety talk and sketch shows did compete in the same category. Talk and sketch shows each received their own category in 2015, mostly because each category had seen enough growth to warrant the separation. While talk shows have continued to thrive and diversify, the pool of sketch shows has declined steadily. But the Television Academy probably realized that along with the differences between these programs, having weekly sketch shows competing against nightly talk shows didn't make much sense either.

If you'd like to read more about the previously announced 2021 Emmys rules that are still in place, head over here.