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    December 3, 2014

Emmys: 'Shameless' Switches to Comedy, John Wells Explains Why

11:00 AM PST 03/25/2014 by Stacey Wilson
Cliff Lipson/SHOWTIME; Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP
"Shameless" (Inset: John Wells)

In a historic move, the TV Academy has granted the executive producer a special dispensation to move his show from drama series contention: "We'd always thought of it as a comedy, and as the series has unspooled, it became clearer," he tells THR.

A version of this story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

A woman lands in jail after her toddler brother nearly dies from ingesting her cocaine. Hilarious, right? Showtime's Emmy campaign for Shameless thinks so.

In a historic move, the TV Academy has granted John Wells, executive producer of the raunchy fourth-season series about a poor Chicago family, a special dispensation to move his show from drama to comedy series contention.

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“We’d always thought of it as a comedy, and as the series has unspooled, it became clearer,” Wells tells THR. “A show like True Detective is definitely a drama. Ours is a comedy with dramatic elements. We want the show to be judged as such.”

Although there is a history of series jumping to and from the miniseries race (The Big C, Downton Abbey), the TV Academy’s senior vp awards John Leverence says Shameless’ move is the first drama-comedy swap since a rule allowing shifts was enacted in 2009. “John says the audience views Shameless as a comedy, Showtime promotes it as a comedy and the writing staff consists of ex-stand-up comedians, so the awards committee and the board of governors agreed,” he says.

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The move avoids a jam-packed drama series category, but whether the move will net the never-lauded series or stars Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy any gold remains to be seen. Wells says he simply hopes the content will speak for itself: “The show is about getting through difficult times by laughing and seeing the absurdity of life.”

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