Why you won’t see ‘Heartstopper’ at the Primetime Emmys and where you’ll find it instead [Exclusive]

Heartstopper” fans might have actual heart attacks on Thursday, June 16, when Primetime Emmy voting starts with the Netflix sleeper hit absent from the ballots. But worry not, the show hasn’t been dismissed from awards contention. It’ll simply be competing someplace else. Netflix told Gold Derby exclusively that they’re submitting the breakout teen dramedy to the Best Young Adult Series category at the Children’s and Family Emmys, where it will also be eligible for categories that recognize performers, writers, directors and crafts.

Children’s and family programming used to be awarded at the Daytime Emmys as such programs typically aired before prime time. However, TV has drastically changed in just the last 10 years and the distinctions between daytime and prime time have become less relevant in an era when streaming content can be viewed at any time of day. So the Television Academy that presents the Primetime Emmys and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) that hands out the Daytime Emmys and other prizes have collaborated on a realignment and streamlining of the awards that includes, among other changes, an Emmy event devoted entirely to children’s and family shows.

Netflix has already had awards success with YA programs. Their series “Trinkets,” about teenage girls who meet in Shoplifters Anonymous and become friends, won Best Young Adult Series in 2020 and 2021. In its two seasons on the air that show also won an Emmy for its writing, in addition to nominations for its casting, editing, costumes, directing, and sound. Another Netflix YA program, “Dash and Lily,” won three Emmys out of 12 nominations in 2021 including victories for its writing team and supporting actress Jodi Long. But “Heartstopper” might have even more crossover adult appeal, so perhaps it has the potential for even greater awards success, especially now that it has been officially renewed for second and third seasons.

The move to compete “Heartstopper” as a children’s/family program also has symbolic significance at a time when <ahem> certain American laws have suggested that the acknowledgment of queer identities is somehow inappropriate for children. Based on the young-adult graphic novels of the same name by Alice Oseman (who also writes the TV adaptation), “Heartstopper” matter-of-factly depicts gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth experiencing emotions, turmoils, joys, and romances of adolescence that are as relatable as anyone else’s. And it quickly won a devoted fan base in the process. So while you won’t see it on the ballots on June 16, you haven’t heard the last of it at the Emmys.

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