As the first round of voting for the 2015 Emmy Awards comes to a close Friday, June 26, one of the most interesting things to watch hasn’t been a show, but a fandom.
“Outlander” fans have launched their own campaign on social media, using the hashtag #EmmysforOutlander to rally the troops as they push for an Outstanding Drama Series nomination for the show and nods for stars Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies. In some instances, they’re going so far as to tag the Television Academy in their tweets in hopes that the right person (or people) will see them.
As part of the effort, the fans organized a mass social media takeover that led to #EmmysforOutlander trending on Twitter in the United States on June 15.
“I’m frequently astonished at both the extent and the enthusiasm of the fandom, but certainly very happy that they feel that way,” author Diana Gabaldon, who published the first “Outlander” novel in 1991, tells Zap2it.
She continues, “The fans have taken the TV series into their hearts with equal — if not greater! — enthusiasm, and it’s well-deserved. The show is a marvelous adaptation of the book, and every facet of the production, from writing, directing and acting to costume and set design, has been handled with an artistry, excitement and attention to detail that I’ve seldom seen in television.”
It’s certainly not the first time a fandom had rallied to support their favorite shows. In 2014, “The Walking Dead” fans launched a campaign to get star Melissa McBride an Emmy, using the hashtag #McEmmy. They even got “The Odd Couple” star Yvette Nicole Brown to tweet in support of their cause, but as she pointed out, it takes more than one TV Academy member’s vote and a “grassroots effort” to land a nomination. “Every other member gets to vote as they choose,” she tweeted. Unfortunately, McBride didn’t land one that year.
“Outlander” fans already have a proven track record in making their voices heard, though. Thanks to their organization and consistency, not only did the series win the 2015 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Cable Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show, but it regularly performs well in a variety of online fan-voted competitions, including Zap2it’s Social Media Showdown. During that competition, fans cast over two million votes for Heughan.
If there were any fandom that was going to go to such lengths to get awards attention for a show though, Gabaldon knows it was bound to be “Outlander.”
“There’s something really odd about ‘Outlander’ — there always has been. People don’t just read the books; they live in them. And they share them,” she says. “‘Outlander’ fans who meet each other for the first time are instant friends; hundreds of small (and very large) social groups based on the books spring up, they go to Scotland, they hold events ranging from Highland Teas to huge fan gatherings, they explode with creativity — fan art, quilts, knitted items, videos, songs, carved jack-o-lanterns featuring a rear view of a nude Jamie Fraser … and they buy ‘loaner’ copies with which to infect both friends and strangers. It’s very much, ‘Read the book; Join the clan!'”
With the deadline to vote now closing in, fans of the series now must sit and wait to see if they made an impression. Emmy nominees aren’t chosen based on public popularity; they’re voted on by the members of the TV Academy. But with Twitter becoming one of the best platforms for people’s voices to be heard, the “Outlander” fans just might have been loud enough often enough to make a difference.
At the very least, they can take pleasure in knowing the cast and crew of “Outlander” have seen their support and are appreciative. That much can be seen with a glance at Heughan or Gabaldon’s Twitter timelines, as they’re filled with retweets of #EmmysforOutlander messages.