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