‘When They See Us’ Nominations Called Into Question Because Of Unclear Emmy Qualification Rules

When They See Us, the Netflix Original that took a deep dive into the wrongful conviction of several men for the Central Park Jogger case has been nominated for a slew of Emmy awards. The critically acclaimed limited series has been nominated in most major categories and has multiple nominations in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series category. While most people are thrilled to see the groundbreaking series up for so many awards, there have been some complaints. The biggest issue that is being discussed is the guidelines associated with the Outstanding Supporting Actor category and who should actually be deemed eligible for the prize.

What are the rules surrounding nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor nominations?

It should come as absolutely no surprise that strict guidelines are governing a show or individual actor’s eligibility for Emmy nomination. In order to be considered eligible for any award, a show must fall in line with a specific deadline. That seems simple enough. When you get into individual categories for acting prowess, though, things get a little more complicated.

In order to be deemed eligible for nomination in the Outstanding Supporting Actor or Actress categories, a nominee must be present within the season or limited series for at least 5% of the run-time. For example, if a limited series runs for 296 minutes (which happens to be the runtime of When They See Us), a supporting actor is only eligible if they appear in over 14 minutes of the series’ runtime.

Why are people upset about the nominations for When They See Us?

No one denies the acting chops of anyone nominated for their work in When They See Us. It is more or less universally agreed that the acting in the limited series is award-winning. The issue, however, seems to be coming from rules that aren’t exactly clear.

John Leguizamo earned a nod from the Television Academy for his work in the limited series. Nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series category, he’ll be going up against several of his castmates. Marsha Stephanie Blake is nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series category. Both Leguizamo and Blake had short, but pivotal roles in the series.

They were eligible for nomination because their appearance is implied in several scenes where they actually don’t have full facetime with the camera. According to Variety, several campaigners feel the rules aren’t well explained, and that they had assumed that only actual camera time counted towards the 5% appearance requirement.

It’s argued that the Television Academy will either need to further clarify the qualification rules for such categories or make sweeping changes. While the Emmy Awards are not set to air until Sept. 22, the 2020 eligibility calendar is already in full swing. Eligibility for the 2020 Emmy Awards began on June 1.

What categories is When They See Us most likely to win?

Ava DuVernay’s production is nominated for a staggering 16 Emmy Awards. While the limited series took home one award at The Creative Arts Emmy Awards last weekend, they stand to pick up several more on Sept. 22. Most critics believe the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series will go to one of the several cast members nominated. Aside from Leguizamo, Asante Blackk is nominated in the category for his portrayal of Kevin Richardson. Michael K. Williams is also competing in the category.

The production is also favorited to take home the Outstanding Limited Series trophy, although Chernobyl is considered stiff competition to take the statue. Finally, Jharrel Jerome, who portrayed Korey Wise in the film is a frontrunner to take home the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series prize. He will face off against Mahershala Ali, Sam Rockwell, Jared Harris, Benicio Del Toro, and Hugh Grant.