Soap-opera episodes air five days a week, 52 weeks a year. But the Daytime Emmy Awards—which serve to honor the best of the best actors, writers, directors, and shows—distribute their golden trophies based solely on two self-submitted episodes. (The Bold and the Beautiful, which is a half-hour long, compared to one hour for Days of Our Lives, General Hospital, and The Young and the Restless, may submit four).
Unlike movies, which have a definite beginning, middle, and end, soap operas are almost all middle. It’s difficult to get a sense of a complete performance from only a snippet, but that’s what the Daytime Emmy judges have to work with. As a result, winning comes down less to a great acting moment, and more to the power of the story itself. As I explained once, completely unironically, about an actress’ chances, “She had a great year. She was raped!”
So even before the nominated stars and shows disclose the reels they submitted, we proudly present your 2015 Daytime Emmy Awards Cheat Sheet. Note that this cheat sheet is based not on what the actor actually did, but on which Emmy-bait card they played.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
PEGGY MCCAY as Caroline Brady (Days of Our Lives): Alzheimer’s.
ALISON SWEENEY as Sami Brady DiMera (Days of Our Lives): Grew up on the show (see: Heroines who grew up on soaps). For her last year, found out husband was cheating on her (see: Sex & Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome), vowed to destroy him, almost did, fell back in love with him, and sobbed as he was killed.
GINA TOGNONI as Phyllis Newman (The Young and the Restless): Woke up from a coma, found out fiance had moved on, vowed revenge.
MAURA WEST as Ava Jerome (General Hospital): Mafia princess who slept with a mobster—and his son, then didn’t know who the father of her baby was. It didn’t matter, as the mobster announced he planned to kill her soon as his daughter (or granddaughter) was born.
LAURA WRIGHT as Carly Corinthos (General Hospital): Fell back in love with mobster referenced above (see: Soap couples who can’t stay together—or apart). How could she not? What’s more sexy than a man threatening to kill a pregnant woman?
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
ANTHONY GEARY as Luke Spencer (General Hospital): Split personality! Jackpot! Plus a busload of previous wins, prompting voters to think that if he was good before, he was probably good again.
CHRISTIAN LEBLANC as Michael Baldwin (The Young and the Restless): Cancer! Almost as good as a split personality!
BILLY MILLER as Billy Abbott (The Young and the Restless): His daughter died, so he held the guy responsible hostage. And cheated on his wife. Both are logical reactions.
JASON THOMPSON as Dr Patrick Drake (General Hospital): His wife died, then came back to life, then left town. Also, his baby with another woman died.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
LINSEY GODFREY as Caroline Spencer Forrester (The Bold and the Beautiful): Fell in love with the guy who used her as a muse for his fashion sketches. (This is not a euphemism.) Plus, she recently got hit by a car in real life. Sympathy vote!
AMELIA HEINLE as Victoria Newman (The Young and the Restless): Wasn’t sure if her estranged husband or her current boyfriend fathered her baby.
ELIZABETH HENDRICKSON as Chloe Fisher (The Young and the Restless): Her daughter died too.
FINOLA HUGHES as Anna Devane (General Hospital): Police chief whose long-lost love returned from the dead and resumed his mobster career.
LISA LOCICERO as Olivia Falconeri (General Hospital): Slept with a mobster. And had psychic visions.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
SCOTT CLIFTON as Liam Spencer (The Bold and the Beautiful): Coveted his brother’s wife.
CHAD DUELL as Michael Corinthos (General Hospital): Found out his adoptive dad killed his biological dad. And that his mother had fallen back in love with him. (See Carly Corinthos, above.)
KRISTOFF ST. JOHN as Neil Winters (The Young and the Restless): Went blind. And his son had an affair with his wife.
JACOB YOUNG as Rick Forrester (The Bold and the Beautiful): Lost his wife to the fashion sketcher. Decided to become a real dick as a result.
Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series
KRISTEN ALDERSON as Kiki Jerome (General Hospital): Had to answer to the name “Kiki.”
CAMILA BANUS as Gabi Hernandez (Days of Our Lives): Had a baby with a guy who preferred other guys. Went to prison.
HUNTER KING as Summer Newman (The Young and the Restless): Married a criminal just before her mom came out of a coma. Found out the guy she thought was her dad really was her dad, as opposed to the guy whom she’d recently been told really was her dad.
HALEY PULLOS as Molly Lansing Davis (General Hospital): Got in a car crash with a boy who had a crush on her. He died. She cried.
Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series
BRYAN CRAIG as Morgan Corinthos (General Hospital): Wondered if his girlfriend’s baby was his—or his mobster dad’s.
MAX EHRICH as Fenmore Baldwin (The Young and the Restless): Dad had cancer. Almost as good as having cancer yourself. Almost.
TEQUAN RICHMOND as TJ Ashford (General Hospital): Learned more than he ever wanted to know about both his parents. Studied for the SATs.
FREDDIE SMITH as Sonny Kiriakis (Days of Our Lives): Pretended he didn’t notice his boyfriend got recast just a few months before their wedding day.
Outstanding Special Guest Performer in a Drama Series
MEREDITH BAXTER as Maureen (The Young and the Restless): Drunk mom.
SALLY KELLERMAN as Constance (The Young and the Restless): Vengeful, dying grandma.
DONNA MILLS as Madeline Reeves (General Hospital): Poisoned her pregnant daughter and put her in a coma—for her own good.
LINDA ELENA TOVAR as Rosalie Martinez (General Hospital): She’s funny.
FRED WILLARD as John Forrester (The Bold and the Beautiful): Same character he plays in Christopher Guest movies. Only now he’s from Australia. And sans accent.
RAY WISE as Ian Ward (The Young and the Restless): Evil cult leader. Not named Bob.
As for which shows are nominated for Outstanding Daytime Drama: There are four soaps left on the air. And four slots to fill. You do the math.
Whom do you expect to bring home a Daytime Emmy this year? Tell us!