Emmy shocker: ‘Orange is the New Black’ jumps fence to comedy

After a poor showing at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards as a drama, Netflix is moving “Orange is the New Black” to the comedy categories for the Emmys this summer. The show about a women’s prison is described by many as a dramedy, with heavy elements of both drama and comedy.

At January’s Golden Globes, the only nomination for the freshman show was for Taylor Schilling as Best TV Drama Actress. It was then completely snubbed by SAG voters that same month.

Before they went the dramatic route for those two events, Netflix had declared it as a comedy for the Writer’s Guild where it reaped bids for Comedy Series, New Series, and Episodic Comedy (two nominations).

Once submitted as a comedy to the Emmys, “Orange is the New Black” will have to remain in that genre in years to come. That has been the main reason why producers and executives have had such a hard time making the call.

The creator of the program is Jenji Kohan, whose best-known TV success was another dramedy, “Weeds.” That show earned an Emmy nod as Best Comedy Series in 2009 and picked up three bids for star Mary-Louise Parker.

Last fall when it was still considered a laffer, “Orange” was predicted by our editors and users to be in a tight three-way tie to win Best TV Comedy Series at the Golden Globes with 2012 winner “Girls” and 2011 champ “Modern Family.” Then, with “Orange” not in the race, Globe voters went with another rookie show “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

Netflix had its first taste of Emmy success last year with “House of Cards.” The political thriller snagged trophies for Drama Directing (David Fincher), Cinematography, and Drama Casting. Among its nine overall nominations, it competed for Drama Series, Drama Actor (Kevin Spacey), and Drama Actress (Robin Wright).

By having its two most acclaimed series contend in different genres, they will not be forced to face each other. The online provider is also being strategic about the sophomore season of “Orange is the New Black” — it debuts on June 6, precisely timed for maximum marketing exposure when Emmy voters receive their ballots.

Is Netflix making the right decision by submitting “Orange is the New Black” in the comedy categories at the Emmys?

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