The CW is used to sitting out awards season, but three little words have suddenly made all the difference: “Jane the Virgin.”
The critically hailed dramedy about a twentysomething in Miami accidentally impregnated in an artificial insemination mix-up was named one of the 10 best shows of the year by AFI on Monday and picked up two very big Golden Globe nominations for best actress in a TV comedy series (leading lady Gina Rodriguez) and best TV comedy series.
“It doesn’t happen that often, believe me,” says CW president Mark Pedowitz, who remembers the rare air of industry kudos from his days at ABC working on “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Lost.” “It’s a great high.”
“I’m really just overwhelmed,” says “Jane” showrunner-exec producer Jennie Urman. “What I was hoping for was Gina would get recognized. That’s what I was putting my little bit of hope on.”
Many pundits believed breakout star Rodriguez had a shot at an acting nom — the Globes have an admirable track record of recognizing hot young talent, from Keri Russell in “Felicity” to Lena Dunham in “Girls” — but the chances of a series nom looked iffier.
Then the Globes delivered a shocker as voters shifted their attention away from no less than four of 2014’s nominees (“The Big Bang Theory,” “Modern Family,” “Parks and Recreation” and winner “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) to honor an almost entirely new field.
“It was a huge win for the show to be nominated,” Rodriguez says. “It was the right amount of encouragement to keep working hard. The fear every Tuesday morning when you see the ratings, and the fear to be able to keep working… [nominations] are just this moment of gratitude where someone says, ‘We see you. We see you working hard and we thank you.’ ”
“Jane” has been averaging a 0.5 rating in the 18-49 demo and about 1.2 million viewers weekly. Not terrible numbers for CW, and an improvement over what the weblet had been doing recently on Mondays at 9 p.m., but still leaving plenty of room for growth.
The net’s decision to order a full season of 22 episodes back in October looks all the wiser today.
“We believe, as it happened with ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine,’ exposure on the Golden Globes with these nominations will help make the show more accessible and people will want to see it,” says Pedowitz. He notes the CW is already planning to capitalize on all the unexpected attention.
“We’re going to tout the AFI Award as well as Golden Globe nominations in all of our promotion,” Pedowitz assures. “And when the show returns in January, there will be another media campaign to support it as well as a lot of on-air material.”
“The critical recognition has been the thing that has kept us going,” Urman acknowledges. “It’s a smaller show and I’m so grateful they push the show so much and have stood by it. Every single review I read I’m a little shocked.”
Despite the less-than-blockbuster ratings, Urman says she’s never felt anything but support from the network since day one. “We have subtitles. Part of the show is in Spanish. I really credit the CW for supporting that vision and not second guessing it,” she says. “It’s a very different kind of show for them, but they’ve shown us so much love and always tell us, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing. People will find the show, don’t worry.’ ”
Rodriguez reports that the atmosphere on set after the nominations was one of unbridled enthusiasm, and she believes the cast and crew’s love for their little show that could is part of its on screen appeal. “That’s the sentiment you feel every day: People happy to be here and to be working, making the show with love. I feel like eventually that comes across. People feel that love.
“To see the Hollywood Foreign Press give us that opportunity to continue to fly — we needed it. Now we get to be exposed to more people so they can laugh and cry with us on Monday nights.”