Earlier this week, we were sadly quite disappointed to learn that the Stana Katic thriller Absentia was ineligible for the Primetime Emmy Awards this year. We considered Katic to be a notable contender, so much so that we had included her in our own Emmy poll for Actress in a Drama Series. She’s still eligible for votes on our list, mostly because we feel like she still gave an Emmy-worthy performance regardless what the rules end up dictating.
So why is the show ineligible? That was a little harder to comprehend because on paper, signs pointed towards it being able to compete. While Absentia was a series filmed overseas that also first aired on an overseas network, the same could be said for Downton Abbey, a frequent recipient of Emmy love over the years. Sherlock and Luther also fall into the same boat. It’s not as though the Emmys are fine with recognizing British shows and not ones that initially air in other countries in Europe.
Ultimately, the overseas production does have a role to play in why Absentia is not eligible this year, but it’s a little bit more complicated than that and that alone. Sources tell CarterMatt that much of it has to do with the nature of the show’s production at the time in which production first began. Foreign television productions, by default, are not eligible unless they come about as a co-production between American and foreign partners. This is why shows like Poldark and Victoria are eligible for Emmys even though they film overseas and air first in the UK. They have the backing of U.S.-based production companies.
Here’s the additional twist: In order for this eligibility to work, the relationship between these multiple parties needs to be in place before the start of production. In the case of Absentia, it was produced for AXN channels and international distribution; however, it was not acquired by Amazon for American and international distribution until after production wrapped. Because of this, it is not eligible for the Emmys this year. We cannot speak for future seasons at this time, but it is the timing in which the relationship between Amazon and Absentia was initiated that is causing the show to be ineligible this year.
With that being said, Absentia is very much eligible this year for the International Emmys, which will be held in New York on November 19. That is not an event we have covered in the past, but it is one we will follow a little bit closer this year depending on what happens leading up to it.
Finding out about this rule has been a fun little process over the past week or so, and it is another reminder that the Emmys are often so much more complicated than they appear to be on the surface. This is something to keep in mind when looking at other foreign-based productions in the future as well.
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