The IFP tweaked its Gotham Awards categories this year to better reflect the rich landscape on the small screen, and nominated two animated series in the process.
“Tuca & Bertie” and “Undone” will both compete for breakthrough short-form series honors this year, vying with “Pen15,” “Ramy” and “Russian Doll.” “Chernobyl,” “David Makes Man,” “My Brilliant Friend,” “Unbelievable” and “When They See Us” are competing for the long-form honors.
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To qualify for the short-form category, episodes had to be 39 minutes or fewer, while episodes for long-form series had to be 40 minutes or longer. When the IFP originally established these categories in 2015, long-form episodes had to be 30 minutes or longer while short-form episodes had to be 20 minutes or shorter in order to qualify.
Early winners tilted toward lower-profile web series, but with the advent of streamers, series have become creatively adventurous, causing the Gotham board to reconsider its guidelines.
“For the last few years we have questioned whether or not the short form category was rich enough of a category to hold its own against the other award categories,” says IFP’s senior director of programming Milton Tabbot.
In order to qualify for either category, series are expected to bring something original to landscape creatively as well as introduce voices not necessarily heard before on the small screen. This year, 112 shows were submitted for award consideration over both categories.
Although animated noms are unusual in the short TV and digital series categories, they are not unprecedented: “Bee and PuppyCat” received one in 2015, the first year the Gotham Awards dispensed such honors, and “The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes” won for short-form series in 2017.
Tabbot doesn’t consider the strong showing by animated series this year that surprising. “The fact that two animated series were nominated was not unexpected,” he says. “Especially because both ‘Tuca & Bertie’ and ‘Undone’ are series that are not only eye catching but created a lot of attention.”
Created by Lisa Hanawalt and voiced by Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong, Netflix’s “Tuca & Bertie” was well received by critics, but ultimately not renewed for a second season. Amazon Prime Video’s “Undone,” created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg and fellow “BoJack Horseman” producer Kate Purdy, revolves around a woman who has a new relationship with time after nearly dying in a car accident.
This year’s nominees are dominated by TV programming heavyweights including HBO, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime, along with OWN. Last year, BBC America’s “Killing Eve” won the long-form category, while indie web series “195 Lewis” won the short-form honors.