Can ‘Days of Our Lives’ make Emmy comeback?

“Days Of Our Lives” has is one of most popular soap operas and in recent years, one of the most consistent in terms of overall quality. Yet after a string of nominations and wins throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the NBC daytime staple has rarely contended for Best Drama Series or the acting awards at the Daytime Emmys.

Before Tamara Braun won Supporting Actress and Darrin Brooks won Younger Actor last year, no performer on “Days” had taken home an Emmy since 1989, when Billy Warlock won Outstanding Younger Leading Man (the equivalent to Outstanding Younger Actor.)   

The inability of “Days” to be fairly represented at the Daytime Emmys is especially unfair because in the last three years the show has produced more consistently quality storylines than most of the other soaps. And it is one of the few shows to appeal to those younger viewers coveted by advertisers. Aside from routinely appearing in the top three soaps among the 18-49 demographic it also is the most downloaded soap, including on Apple I-Tunes.

Why can’ “Days” win over the Emmy voters? As the sole surviving NBC soap opera, “Days” has not benefitted from block voting. In recent years, the overall nomination tally typically favors one of the competing networks with the other in a strong second place, leaving precious little room for NBC.  It isn’t uncommon for CBS to be heavily favored one year, but then because of a backlash against this perceived bias for ABC to get the most nominations the following year.

Another factor working against “Days” is its reliance on front-burner storylines that feature younger actors who are unknown to Emmy voters. And it carries the history of those 1990 storylines focusing on the supernatural, including the possession of Dr.  Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall) by the devil. Despite their popularity, they did not appeal to the traditionally-minded Emmy voters. Indeed, Hall was only nominated three times and eventually withdrew from competition citing the unwinnable numbers game.

“Days” contended consistently for Best Drama from 1974 to 1985, winning in 1978. It went without a nod throughout the first part of this decade, only contending in 2009. Despite submitting a well-produced, finely-acted episode featuring a plane crash and the members of Salem society dealing with the moments leading up to that calamity, it was was bested by CBS’s “The Bold & The Beautiful” which submitted a tape focussing on a family coping with the aftermath of a son’s suicide.    

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