‘Community’ causes controversy with animation entry at Emmys

Live action laffer “Community” has landed on the animation ballot at the Emmys causing a backlash from that genre’s old guard. The likes of Seth MacFarlane (“Family Guy“) and James L. Brooks (“The Simpsons“) wrote a letter of protest to the TV academy over the decision to allow the “Community” episode “Digital Estate Planning” to contend for Best Animated Program while their shows are excluded from the comedy series and writing categories. 

In those instances when an animated program, such as “The Simpsons” or “Family Guy,” was submitted for consideration as Best Comedy Series (and by extension for comedy writing and directing), it was prohibited from also entering the Animated Program race.

As the 52 signatories note, “This letter is in no way intended to be a slight on the terrific show ‘Community’ but a request from us to enjoy the very same rights they now do.  Clearly the Academy’s ban on submitting in multiple categories is being enforced in an arbitrary and unfair manner.  We therefore request that we also be able to submit our programs for both animation and comedy series as well as in the writing category.”

The TV academy responded that, “The competition includes a rule that a special episode can enter as a stand-alone special, ‘if it involved a significant and substantive format change throughout e.g. from whole-episode live action to whole-episode animation.’ The ‘Community’ producers followed that rule when they entered the producer-writer-director team for the animated episode in the Animation category and the regular, live-action episodes in the Comedy Series program and Comedy Series individual achievement categories.”

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Our forum posters have been debating the merits of both sides.  

As smartone notes,

If the Emmys are going to allow for “Community” to enter in the animated category, then they need to change the title of the category to Outstanding Single Animated Episode….or something like that. Because “Community” is not an animated series or program, so it’s allowance to be entered here is confusing and not fair to animation creators.

Says Spenser Davis

I see no problem with “Community” competing here, so long as the Emmys change the rules and let all animated series compete for their own Writing and Directing categories, or be included in the eligibility pool for the already-existing Comedy Writing and Comedy Directing races.

PaulHanlinJr. thinks,

If 50 animation folks signed the petition, then where there’s smoke, there’s fire.  Community should not have it both ways. The complainants are right here. 

And for ThatDonGuy,

The main problem is, while the main live-action producing, writing, and directing categories are series, the animation category is for a single program. Remember, in the 20 years between “The Flintstones” and “The Simpsons,” pretty much all prime-time animation was for single programs.  If the writers and directors of the animated “Community” episode were allowed to enter the episode in the Comedy Series Writing and Directing category, then I could see the animators’ point, but the episode isn’t entered (and I don’t think it’s allowed to be) in either category. Then again, if animation is based on “single episodes,” then why not allow each episode of an animated series to be submitted for the animated program Emmy, rather than just one per series?

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