Ziwe, How To with John Wilson, That Damn Michael Che and The Amber Ruffin Show are among the new comedy variety shows that are almost certain to be overlooked at this year's Emmy nominations. "Because of the Television Academy’s rules that base the number of a given category’s nominees on the amount of submissions, this year only two sketch programs will be nominated out of nine that are eligible," explains David Canfield. "(This is down from last year’s three, and 2019’s six.) And those two seats may already be spoken for, having been included last year: NBC’s Saturday Night Live, category winner for four years straight, and HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show, from Robin Thede." Canfield adds: "TV is, indeed, getting harder to categorize. And this unsatisfying situation is not for lack of trying on the Television Academy’s part. Last year, it announced a major change that would recombine variety-talk and variety-sketch series into one field (as it was prior to 2015), to account for the latter’s increasing sparseness within the TV landscape. But backlash understandably brewed over the inevitability of SNL and well-known talk show figureheads crowding out any and all fresher, edgier talent. So they reversed the decision. The logic goes: At least in this system, we’re guaranteed one sketch-series nominee beyond SNL. But with the variety-performer category now axed as well, all SNL and other sketch stars are forced to compete against comedy actors, while the writers and directors are combined into a sketch and talk category. Unsurprisingly, the old-guard late-night folks tend to win out. It’s a problem without an evident solution: There may be few submissions in sketch, but the median quality of the work represented is far too high for such limitations. Consider HBO’s strategy, which has A Black Lady Sketch Show coming back strong, but also wants to push How To with John Wilson, an inventive new series that landed presciently in the midst of COVID-19. A source at WarnerMedia’s FYC campaigns (which covers both HBO and HBO Max) almost works out this math on the fly in our interview. How To with John Wilson was such a strong show this year that the critics loved—it’s such a unique show…so I feel like that’s an underdog that has a fighting chance,' the source says. 'But then at the cost of what? I mean, Black Lady Sketch Show?'"