It's Really Hard To Vote For The Emmys

by Nicole Pomarico

This Monday night is the night of every TV junkie's dreams: The 2014 Emmy Awards. Hosted by Seth Meyers, it's bound to be super entertaining — even if it is The Grown Up of All Award Shows. If the VMAs are your cool, popular older sister who sneaks out after your parents go to bed, the Emmys are your dignified grandfather who wrote your older sister out of his will when she got a nose ring. There may be fewer scandalous moments at the Emmys than there are at the VMAs, but there's a reason why they're so prestigious: Unlike fan-voted award shows, not just anyone can decide who wins. And while many of the Emmy voters may actually be people who work behind the scenes in TV (and are therefore people you might have never heard of) it's pretty important to understand who they are if you want to know who to be mad at when your favorite show doesn't win.

So how do you go about voting for the Emmys? The official Emmy website explains it as a very long and involved process, as it should be — if the Emmy award is the highest honor in the television industry, the people who decide who they go to should be at the top of their field, right?

The road to becoming an Emmy voter starts with a membership to The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, an organization whose name makes it easier for all of us to rationalize that our hours spent binge-watching shows on Netflix actually was for science. This involves an application and a fee — $175 per year (unless, of course, you've won an Emmy recently, at which point your membership is free). Job perks! You also have to meet the requirements of your "peer group." Think of it as the Emmy version of the lunch tables in Mean Girls — you've got your casting directors, your performers, your writers, the best people you will ever meet (reality programming people), and the worst (commercials people, yuck!).

And your peers had better like you, because you will need two of them to endorse your work if you want any hope of becoming an ATAS member. Oh, yeah, back to those requirements. They vary from group to group, but where performers are concerned, this means you must have scored a principal or featured role in the past four years.

According to Backstage.com, there are currently over 15,000 members of the ATAS, and they're all responsible for selecting and voting for the nominees who eventually appear on the Emmys ballot. And from there? A small group of them — we're talking 50-75 people in just the acting category — are selected as judges, who do the actual voting for the awards and decide who goes home with which award. Phew!

Basically, if you want to vote for next year's Emmys, you better get to work. Otherwise, you and I can sit together and write strongly worded letters to the lucky ATAS folks if Orange is The New Black doesn't win Outstanding Comedy Series Monday night — not that that has even a remote possibility of happening, of course.