Fresh off yet another brilliantly paced and plotted episode of The CW’s The Vampire Diaries, I can’t help but think about how the mainstream awards show circuit…bites. Much like its groundbreaking predecessor Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Vampire Diaries is doomed to remain Emmy and Golden Globe-less, simply by virtue of the fact that it’s a genre show on network TV. Worse yet, it’s on a gasp! teen-focused network — as though entertainment aimed toward that demo can’t actually be worthy of accolades. It’s truly a shame… since another supernatural series, True Blood, manages to pick up statues because being on HBO gives it a kind of legitimacy that other genre shows aren’t allowed to have. (See SyFy’s Battlestar Galactica, which was, easily, on par with — if not superior to — your Sopranos and your Mad Men.)
What exactly has Anna Paquin done as True Blood‘s Sookie that Nina Dobrev hasn’t done in the dual roles of TVD’s Elena and Katherine…besides a bad southern accent? On a show populated with charismatic “hotties,” particularly Ian Somerhalder, whose Damon Salvatore is one of the darkest lead characters on TV right now (he and Showtime’s Dexter Morgan should hang out sometime), Dobrev doesn’t just hold her own, she runs the show. Elena is no petite dewdrop. Though Damon and Stefan (Paul Wesley) are besotted with her and determined to protect her, she’s also fiercely protective of her loved ones and capable of taking care of herself. And Katherine… Katherine is a character Dobrev keeps beautifully unique from her human doppelganger. The way she carries herself is different, the cadence of her speech has a mocking lilt. She feels more deadly, and more sensual. When viewers see Katherine-playing-Elena, they also see Dobrev doing a wonderful balancing act, because it’s a wholly different spin on real Elena. Will she ever get an Emmy nod for this feat? A shiny Golden Globe? Nope.
Much like Sarah Michelle Gellar before her, Dobrev will not be getting her due. And no one at The Academy will be acknowledging how flawless the writing and direction for The Vampire Diaries is. I was a loyal fan of BTVS for seven seasons, and I watched it get passed over again and again. Gellar’s Buffy was the kind of pathos-laden, suffering-but-strong heroine that is tailor-made for an award nomination, but she never got one. Stunning episodes like “The Body,” dealing with the death of Buffy’s mother, were never lauded. Then, years later, another perky blonde picked up a Golden Globe like no one’s ever seen the girl-falls-for-vampire phenomenon before. It sucked. Pun fully intended.
Critical acclaim is a funny thing. HBO has been held up as the pinnacle of genius programming for a very, very long time. It’s only recently that AMC managed to join the race with Breaking Bad and Mad Men. The CW, like The WB before it, may fight tooth and nail to put dark, distinctive shows on the air, but they’re not even allowed in the arena!
True Blood has naked people and the f-bomb making it HBO-appropriate. If you stripped those elements away and “exiled” it to The CW, it would likely experience the same invisibility as BTVS and TVD. It’s a good show, but it got really, really lucky. As for TVD, if they were to move to a premium channel, they wouldn’t need to add any shock value. Sure, they may say “dick” three times in ten minutes instead of other four-letter words, but their body count is high and their sex appeal is without question. You don’t need to see Damon’s sociopathic ass to know that he is a sociopathic ass.
It’s too bad that members of NATAS and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will never see just how bloody good teen-oriented TV can be.