We’d like to believe that the Emmy race is about the art: the performances, the directing, the writing, the music. And it is, to a degree, but of course, it’s also about politics, campaigning, and money. It’s about industry clout.
Driving through Los Angeles or flipping through a trade magazine, you’re bombarded with “For Your Consideration” billboards and print ads. As members of the press, we’ve been flooded with emails from publicists recently, all with the same pitch: “Please consider including my client Joe Actor in any upcoming Emmy-related articles you may write!”
None of these emails have been from representatives for actors who work on CW shows. Last year, Warner Bros included an insert in Emmy Magazine in support of their CW shows; this year, no such campaign is planned.
It’s just an accepted truth that The CW won’t be considered, so there’s an impression that everyone from the network to the reps to the writers and actors themselves have simply given up on the idea. Ian Somerhalder, star of The CW’s most successful show, “The Vampire Diaries,” recently tweeted to a fan, “Sorry, you must understand, the the Emmys will NEVER nominate TVD for anything unfortunately. It simply wont happen.”
Here at Zap2it, we’re fans of a number of CW shows, with “The Vampire Diaries,” “Nikita,” and “Supernatural” standing out as particularly ambitious this season, as well as “Smallville” in its final bow after a decade on television. While ratings pale in comparison to shows on other networks, the shows have become appointment viewing for passionate, invested fanbases. These are the shows that never linger, unwatched, on our DVRs. They’re the shows we’re most eager to tweet about, to theorize about, and yes — occasionally, to rant about.
So what is it about The CW’s shows that repel Emmy voters, to the point where the studio isn’t even interested in supporting the most minor publicity campaign? It can’t be the teenage leading characters, because “Glee” was all over the ballot last season. It can’t be the fantasy or supernatural elements, because “True Blood” has been nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. Yet, both The CW and The WB before it have gone largely unrecognized by Emmy voters when it comes to the “big” categories in acting, writing, and directing.
This year, actors from “Gossip Girl,” “One Tree Hill,” “Hellcats,” “Nikita,” and “The Vampire Diaries” are on the ballot. Out of all of the performance submissions from CW shows, we’d implore Emmy voters to take notice of “The Vampire Diaries” star Nina Dobrev in particular. Submitted for consideration in the Lead Drama Actress category, 22-year-old Dobrev has blown us away. While the first season proved Dobrev to be capable in her dual roles, Season 2 proved her to be a force to be reckoned with.
Dobrev plays Elena, the “girl next door” doppelganger with the tragic past and the seemingly doomed future. She also takes on the role of Katherine, a 500-year-old vampire. Dual roles aren’t uncommon on supernatural shows at this point, but Dobrev’s work as Katherine is particularly impressive. She’s masterfully depicted Katherine throughout history — as a terrified but hopeful young romantic in the 1490s, as a delightfully manipulative seductress in 1864, and as the woman she’s become today – desperate, violent, and ruthless. Fans of the show universally admit that they’ve forgotten that the two characters are played by one actress, so distinct and recognizable are the performances.
For all of her meticulous work — she uses three separate scripts to ensure seamless scenes when her two characters interact with each other — Dobrev remains vastly underrated, having been snubbed this year by even the genre-friendly Scream Awards, Saturn Awards, and Peoples’ Choice Awards (for which her co-star Ian Somerhalder was nominated).
That’s not to discount her leading men, Paul Wesley and Somerhalder. Wesley’s work is subtle and consistent; he brings a rare sense of nobility to a character who is essentially a recovering addict. Somerhalder, who submitted himself in the supporting category, has shown us a raw, reckless and hopeless man with brave abandon. We’ve included clips of our favorite moments from Dobrev (in both roles), Wesley, and Somerhalder in the video below.
The CW’s representation on the ballot is inconsistent this year. There are some baffling inclusions — we’re not sure what Chace Crawford even did
this season on “Gossip Girl” other than stand around having fantastic
hair, but he’s up for consideration in the Lead Drama Actor category.
Equally strange is the absence of “Supernatural” actors Jared Padalecki and Jensen
Ackles. Season 6 hinged entirely on Padalecki’s performance as Sam Winchester, whose startling transformation this season forced Padalecki far out of his comfort zone, and Ackles has been lauded for years as the most natural and nuanced actor on the network. We’re not saying these actors would win their categories; only that their omissions seem like glaring evidence that CW actors have given up hope for Academy recognition.
In non-acting categories, episodes have been submitted from many CW shows, ranging from “Hellcats” to “Smallville.” The Warner Bros-produced episodes can be seen by voters (and the curious public) on WBFYC.com. Still, without any kind of campaigning or support, particularly when other WB shows are featured on billboards over Sunset Boulevard, the submissions are DOA.
We can’t help but wonder if The CW will ever be able to shake the stigma. Their upcoming fall season features critical darling Sarah Michelle Gellar (who does have a Daytime Emmy on her shelf, but no Primetime gold to show for her seven seasons on “Buffy”), and there’s a chance that her clout may be able to turn Academy opinion of the network around. Perhaps, as social media becomes a more prevalent form of communication, fans on Twitter and Tumblr will be able to grab the attention of Emmy voters with grassroots campaigns.
Or, more probably, the award-worthy performances, writing, and directing that we see on The CW will remain undecorated secrets, treasured by viewers despite the lack of fanfare and prestige that awards bring.