With the the success of HBO’s Watchmen at the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, it seems apparent that superhero shows CAN win awards.
For the longest time, the Academy has refused to recognize shows of the superhero genre, no matter how outstanding and critically relevant they are.
Yes, from time to time, a superhero show will receive an award for its stunts, costumes, or special effects, but rarely do we see an acting, writing, or directing award nomination for any of these shows, even when there are people deserving of the accolades.
Every year, the Emmys announce their nominations and the average person says “huh?”
While many of the nominated shows are worthy of recognition for their work, a majority of them are series that do not have a big following.
This is thanks to the ever-growing number of streaming services and the Academy’s recent tendency to lean towards cable instead of network television.
And, as a result, a lot of the shows that we all know and love are swept to the side, and the shows that suffer the Academy’s ignorance the most is the superhero genre.
Since the early 2010s, superheroes have increased in popularity on both the small and big screens. There are so many shows that revolve around masked heroes and vigilantes that it’s hard to keep track of them.
Yet, they hardly get a coveted spot on TV’s biggest night.
We’ll admit that there are some shows that are more entertaining than they are groundbreaking, but there are a select few that are critically acclaimed and audience approved.
From the early days of Arrow to the cancelled-too-soon Jessica Jones, the Academy has ignored some great shows for far too long.
Watchmen was nominated for and won a considerable amount of awards, rightfully so, and it is based off a comic book series. So, why can’t the other popular superhero shows be featured at the Emmys?
Arrow Season 2 was not only the best season of the hooded archer series but was an outstanding program of television that year. And yet, it never recieved any kind of award attention.
Since it was a show on The CW, which the Academy is notorious for ignoring, and of the superhero genre, it was pushed to the side. The same can be said for The Flash Season 1.
But those seasons of Arrow and The Flash featured great writing, directing, acting, and all around good storytelling that kept the audience on their toes.
Sure, both shows had their ups and downs throughout their runs, but it’s hard to argue with the fact that they started out, oh, so good and paved the way for other superhero shows to do the same. At the very least, they deserve to be awarded for their legacy.
Network superhero shows, while occasionally being close to perfection, can also be a bit cheesy. If that’s the Academy’s problem, then sure, we might get it, but there are other, more mature superhero shows out there.
Take Watchmen for example. It is a show that was definitely not made for children but still featured masked heroes and won many awards.
The Netflix Marvel shows, on the other hand, rarely saw any kind of recognition at the Emmys.
The direction of Daredevil was breathtaking. The scenes featuring Krysten Ritter on Jessica Jones could be shown in acting classes. The Punisher‘s storylines during both of its seasons were epic. And Luke Cage had Mahershala Ali for crying out loud!
Every one of these shows featured some sort of brilliance throughout their run, yet the only Emmy recognition they ever received was for stunts or title music.
What the Emmys have done is reduced superhero series to only being good at one thing — stunts.
While the stunts featured are unlike anything else on television, they are not the only good thing about of note.
Sometimes, the stunts go hand-in-hand with the greatness of the series.
On Daredevil, each season featured a long, one-take fight scene. Everyone remembers the hallway scene on Daredevil Season 1 and the prison scene on Daredevil Season 3.
Of course, the stunt team would get awarded for the sheer jaw-dropping quality of those sequences, but direction, acting, and writing play a significant role in pulling them off, as well.
Sometimes, the overall quality of superhero shows do not live up to the Academy’s standards. But there is no denying that some of the actors on those shows can act their butts off.
For example, Iain De Caestecker masterfully played Leopold Fitz on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Grant Gustin and Candice Patton are forces to be reckoned with on The Flash, and as mentioned before, Krysten Ritter tore our hearts out as Jessica Jones.
Critics and fans alike agree that all of these actors have the ability to make us laugh, cry, love them, hate them, and everything in between. They make us feel so many emotions, and it’s befuddling the reasons as to why they have not been recognized.
Characters play a huge part, if not the most important part, in a show’s success. If your audience can’t relate to the characters, then it’s all over.
Thankfully these superhero shows have great actors that play their characters to the fullest — if only they got awarded at the Emmys for their massive talent.
A lot of the shows I have mentioned so far did amazing on their early seasons, but lessened in quality as the years went on.
But there is one show that has only gotten better over time — DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
One might watch this Arrowverse spin-off about a ragtag group of wannabe heroes and think that it has no place at the Emmys, with its out-there storylines and characters, but I think that is the exact reason why it’s Emmy-worthy.
Not only is it entertaining and hilarious to watch, the acting, writing, and directing are clever and superb, and it features a wide variety of heroes with superpowers or special skills.
There is nothing else quite like DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on TV with its delightfully weird stories, making it stand out from all the rest. And that more than qualifies it as a show that deserves all the Emmys, right?
The bottom line is that it is tiring watching the same kind of shows be nominated for Emmys every year.
And let’s be honest, their ratings are declining, and we all know why — almost no one watches the nominated shows, so why would anyone want to watch awards given to a bunch of shows they’ve never watched?
We are living in a time where there are more television shows to watch than there are items on The Cheesecake Factory’s menu, so we know it is impossible to include them all.
However, there are a ton of other great shows that the Academy can recognize rather the familiar nominees they have been featuring every year.
And some of those are in the superhero genre — shocking, I know.
What do you think TV Fanatics?
Do you think superhero shows are unfairly ignored by the Academy? What shows do you wish were recognized at the Emmys?
Let me know in the comments!
Sarah Little is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.