The Great CW Superhero Emmy Award Scandal!

The Emmy Award 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:


One nomination.

One nomination.

Scriptwriting nominations: “Canary Cry”

Performance nominations: Zero


Three nominations.
Three nominations.

Scriptwriting nominations: Zero

Performance nominations:

  • 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


One nomination.

One nomination.

Scriptwriting nominations: Zero

Performance nominations: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Ciara Renée as Hawkgirl

Let’s face it, that’s pretty staggering! In contrast, CBS put Supergirl forward for no less than five nominations – more than The CW’s three DC superhero shows combined! Perhaps the biggest shock is that none of the series leads have got an entry, either!

What’s going on?

Let's unravel the mystery!

Let’s unravel the mystery!

Let’s start out with some basic uncomfortable truths. The CW don’t have a good history when it comes to Emmy Awards – in fact, the network has so far only ever received one Emmy Award win. For the record, that was actually for the DC TV superhero show Smallville, 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.

The CW's big hit!

The CW’s big hit!

In the aftermath of that experience, The CW openly committed to making all their shows “Emmy-worthy” going forward. But that may not have included superhero shows. The Awards are notoriously harsh on genre shows, as Daredevil showrunner Steve DeKnight :

“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 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!”

Superheroes just aren't loved by the industry.

Superheroes just aren’t loved by the industry.

Demographically, just as with the Oscar’s, the judges tend to be older. These are also the demographic least likely to be watching superhero shows, so there is a natural bias against this kind of series.

So here’s the catch. If The CW want to make a strong Emmy bid, they can choose to push their superhero shows – or gloss over them, instead focusing on the kind of shows the Awards naturally gravitate towards. I’m talking Jane the Virgin – The CW’s golden goose, which laid last year’s Golden Globe, and has put forward ten actors for consideration in this year’s Emmy performance categories!

It’s pretty clear that this is the network’s strategy. They know that superhero shows won’t perform well, so aren’t wasting their time and money with those nominations. Instead, they’ve made a token gesture, focusing instead on the series they believe has 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 nominations 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!

Can the Flash race into the limelight?

Can the Flash race into the limelight?


I’m a British guy who has a particular love of superhero movies – and I’m having a great time writing for Movie Pilot! Feel free to follow me on Twitter @TomABacon!