Just as film studios release many of their Oscar contenders in December, TV networks sometimes air episodes close to Emmy voting in order to be the first thing on voters’ minds when they tick off their ballots.
This could explain how "Veep," which aired its finale the day that ballots came out last year, got nominated for Best Comedy Series over the more-favored "Louie," which had been off the air for nine months at that point.
Up until 2007, the TV academy enforced a strict June 1to May 31 eligibility calendar. Late season finales had to be held for Emmy consideration till the following year. For example, the first season finale of "Arrested Development," which aired on June 6, 2004 was included on the 2005 reel.
This June to May calendar proved problematic for the last season of "The Sopranos" as the final two episodes aired in June. They would have been ineligible as part of the final season and also out of the running the next year as they fell short of the six-episode requirement to qualify as a season by themselves.
Taking into account the rise of cable networks such as HBO and their disregard for the traditional broadcast cycle, the TV academy introuced a new rule that permitted "hanging" episodes, such as the last two installments of "The Sopranos," to contend with the rest of the season at the Emmys. The series finale, "Made in America," won the Emmy for writing.
Last year, "Mad Men" aired two hanging episodes in June before Emmy ballots were released. These late airdates helped them get on Emmys radar: “Commissions and Fees” was nominated by the writers’ branch while season finale “The Phantom” was cited for its cinematography.
This year, "Mad Men" aired four episodes in June -- two before and two after ballots went live online. The season finale “In Care of” debuted 13 days after ballots were released and just five days before the voting deadline.
The episode, scripted by series creator Matthew Weiner and Carly Wray, was lauded as the best of the season with a standout performance from Jon Hamm.
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