Admit it Emmy voters, when “Jane the Virgin” was picked up by the CW a year ago, some of you rolled your eyes at the title or automatically dismissed it as “just another CW show.” Now, after a critically acclaimed first season aren’t you feeling just a bit foolish?
Both the AFI and Peabody Awards feted the series and it is the first CW show to ever land Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominations for Best Comedy Series. Much of that credit goes to series creator Jennie Synder Urman. She loosely based “Jane” on a Venezuelan telenovela and found a way to embrace the over-the-to nature of that genre while keeping the show grounded, charming and true to life.
Gina Rodriguez, who plays the title character, was the first CW star to even be nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Comedy/Musical Actress. She won that race back in January and just reaped a Critics Choice bid. She is Hollywood’s new “It” girl and could well win this award on May 31.
“There’s no one like her,” Urman raved to us at a recent PaleyFest event. “Day after the Golden Globes, Monday morning, she’s there, she’s on-time, she knows her lines and she’s ready to go. She’s just: ‘I just gotta get back to work because that’s what got me here.’ That’s just gifted. You can’t control that. You can’t cast that.”
It’s difficult to break into the most crowded medium in entertainment and create an iconic character as Rodriguez has done in just a single season. Over on the drama side this year, Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon (“Empire”) has also accomplished this but she is a one-time Oscar nominee (“Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) who had headlined a hit series already (“Person of Interest”).
Reigning Comedy Actress champ Julia Louis-Dreyfus pulled this off with Selina Meyer (“Veep”) as did 2004 winner Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw (“Sex and the City”). While Dreyfus has won for the first three seasons of her HBO laffer (and is predicted to prevail again this year), Parker had to wait till her sixth consecutive nomination in 2004.
Rodriguez echoes the success of of other newcomers like Megan Mullally as Karen Walker (“Will & Grace”), Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper (“The Big Bang Theory”) and Uzo Aduba as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren (“Orange is the New Black”).
Mullally claimed Comedy Supporting Actress twice (2000 & 2006), Parsons has four Comedy Actor Emmys and counting (2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014), and Aduba won Guest Comedy Actress last year for the first season.
Unlike most of her Comedy Actress competition, Rodriguez has headlined 22 episodes. She has guided her character through what, with a lesser actress, could have been the most unbelievably ridiculous of situations: getting accidentally artificially inseminated, proposing to your boyfriend who becomes your fiance, and the falling in love with your baby-daddy so that a love triangle ensues. Add to that finding out your father you’ve never met is actually a major telenovela star and the hotel you work at has had two murders and is being investigated for being part of a major criminal’s ring. To cap that off, you give birth only to have your child snatched by said criminal. All of this was handled impeccably by Rodriguez with a keen ability to make you laugh out loud while seconds later feeling your heart break. This is not great acting, Emmy voters, this is art.
Recently I asked Gold Derby founder Tom O’Neil of Rodriguez’s chances at landing the first ever major Emmy nomination by the CW and he said: “Unfortunately there’s no snob appeal there for Emmy voters.” You should take offense to that Emmy voters.
You’ve shown by awarding Laurie Metcalf (“Roseanne”) three times for “Roseanne” (1992 – 1994) as well as Jaime Pressly (“My Name is Earl”) in 2007 and Allison Janney (“Mom”) last year, that you’re not elitist.
And in 2007, America Ferrera became the first Latina to win Comedy Actress by portraying a character adapted from a telenovela in “Ugly Betty”. How about being part of history again?
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