Can critically-‘cclaimed cult college comedy caper Community compete in cartoon and comedy categories? No, according to a bunch of incensed cartoon writers – including all 537 Simpsons writers as well as the Family Guy manatees – who wrote a strongly-worded letter to the esteemed representatives of television to protest Community stepping on their turf (their turf being the Emmy categories Best Animated Program and Short-Form Animated Program). See, once again Community is eligible for an Emmy or two in animated categories thanks to a special animated episode – last year it was the stop-motion “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” (which won Individual Achievement in Animation, the show’s only Emmy so far), this year it’s “Digital Estate Planning,” an excellent video game-based episode. But since Community is normally a live-action show, it’s also eligible for the usual live-action categories that animated shows are apparently ineligible for, including Outstanding Writing in a Comedy.
According to the TV people, animation writers actually can compete in Outstanding Writing in a Comedy and other Comedy categories – but only if the show they write for “opts to enter in Comedy Series rather than Animated Program category.” If they do that, though, the show is considered ineligible for all the animation categories. Community, however, is in a unique situation, allowed to straddle both sides of the live-action/animation fence. It’s as if Mad Men entered itself in both Drama and Comedy categories. It’s rare for animated shows to enter Comedy Series – The Flintstones was nominated in 1961; The Simpsons submitted episodes in Seasons 4 & 5 but didn’t even get nominated; Family Guy was nominated in 2009 and they’re trying again this year (though it remains to be seen if the really cheap-looking mailer they sent to Emmy voters featuring stock images of Peter and Stewie Griffin addressing recipients as “Brentwood Jews” will be successful).
The cartoon writer alliance is requesting the Academy grant them “the very same rights” Community – which they call a “terrific show” – now enjoys and let them “submit our programs for both animation and comedy series as well as in the writing category.” In other words, they want to compete with the big boys in live-action on The Real Emmys, and not be relegated to the lame, untelevised “Creative Arts Emmys” which may or may not even exist. And here I thought the ‘toon civil rights movement had ended in 1947, as depicted in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
But the real story here is the end of the so-called “Cartoon Wars.” For the past decade, The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy, and the various Family War spinoffs, have been embroiled in a tense war of sight gags and rape jokes that has rocked the nation and left countless casualties strewn across the battlefields of many a message board. With this letter, these former enemies have now entered into an alliance against a common enemy: Community. Will this alliance last? And what about South Park, the show that escalated the war with the multi-episode “Cartoon Wars” storyline? None of the South Park writers (or, rather, writer) are named in the letter… are they playing neutral? Do they no longer care about Emmys, now that they’ve had a taste of Tony Awards? Or are they just waiting for the right moment to strike? Only time will tell.