The Emmy Awards Nominating Ballots are out, and they contain a lot of surprises. For fans of The CW's superhero shows — from Arrow to Legends of Tomorrow — the nominations are one big disappointment.
Here they are in all their glory.
Scriptwriting nominations: "Canary Cry"
Performance nominations: Zero
Scriptwriting nominations: Zero
- Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West
- Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Candice Patton as Iris West
- Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow
Legends Of Tomorrow
Scriptwriting nominations: Zero
Performance nominations: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Ciara Renée as Hawkgirl
Let's face it, that's pretty underwhelming. In contrast, CBS put Supergirl forward for no less than five nominations — as much as The CW's three DC superhero shows combined. Perhaps the biggest shock is that none of the series' leads have received any entries either.
What's Going On?
Let's start with some basic uncomfortable truths. The CW doesn't have a good history when it comes to Emmy Awards. In fact, the network has so far only ever received three Emmy Award wins. For the record, they were all for Outstanding Sound Editing, and all for the DC TV superhero show Smallville, the last one having been won back in 2008.
Last year was a particularly bad year for The CW. Although Jane the Virgin received a Golden Globe, the show was snubbed at the Emmys.
In the aftermath of that experience, The CW openly committed to making all its shows "Emmy-worthy" going forward. But that maxim might not have stretched to include superhero shows. The Emmys are notoriously harsh on genre series, as Daredevil showrunner Steven DeKnight observed last year:
“When you sign on for genre, you definitely accept that fact that you are playing at a disadvantage when it comes to awards season. I think once you get to the Academy level, there is an inherent snobbery against genre shows.”
In case you think DeKnight is making this up, don't forget that Birdman director Alejandro Iñárritu famously described Hollywood's latest superhero focus as "cultural genocide." Introducing the 2015 Oscars ceremony, musician and actor Jack Black described superhero films in cutting terms:
"Opening with lots of zeroes, all we get are superheroes: Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Jediman, Sequelman, Prequelman — formulaic scripts!"
Demographically, just as with the Oscars, the Emmys judges tend to be older. This is also the demographic least likely to be watching superhero shows, so there is a natural bias against this kind of television.
So here's the catch. If The CW wants to make a strong Emmy bid, it can choose to push its superhero shows — or gloss over them, instead focusing on the kind of shows the awards naturally gravitate toward. I'm talking Jane the Virgin — The CW's golden goose, which laid last year's Golden Globe, and has put forward no less than 10 actors for consideration in this year's Emmy performance categories.
It's pretty clear that this is the network's strategy. It knows that superhero fare won't perform well, so isn't wasting time and money with those nominations. Instead, it's made a token gesture, focusing instead on the series it believes stand the best chance of winning big. It's a real shame. Let's be honest, that strategy feels more than a little disrespectful to some great shows and some top-quality performances.
So for fans of DC TV, let's face it: 2016's Emmy Awards Nominating Ballots are something of a disappointing crop. That said, at least Supergirl is well-represented!
Do you think The CW should have entered more superhero shows? Let me know in the comments!