Tuned In

Golden Globes Deprive Critics of Reasons to Whine

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We tend to forget because it comes in the middle of Oscar-handicapping season, but the Golden Globes honors TV shows too. I’ll leave it to my movie colleagues to pick over the film nominees (except to say: Bobby? Wha? Are they sure they didn’t mean Best Comedy, Unintentional?). But the TV nods left a critic unfortunately little to grouse about.

The Globes carry relatively little predictive weight for the Emmys, but despite that–or maybe because of it–they make up for it in legitimacy by actually nominating good shows. The Globes have not hesitated to honor series early in their runs: in recent years, 24, Lost, Arrested Development and The Office. So while I might have been disappointed and puzzled that not one of the outstanding actresses in HBO’s Big Love were nominated (while Evangeline Lilly did, for the weakest lead performance in a strong show), the underrated series itself got a Best Drama nod, which helped to make up for it.

Otherwise, my quibbles were mostly of the reasonable-people-can-differ scale. I’m not sure Heroes and Ugly Betty have quite earned their way into the top rank of TV shows–both of them are great-looking, brilliantly conceived shows held back by cliche writing–but they’re perfectly good and I’m all for spotlighting new talent. (Especially when that new talent does not include Studio 60, which got only a supporting-actress nod for Sarah Paulson as an apparently-funny-despite-all-evidence comedienne.)

And while I’m glad Alec Baldwin got nominated for 30 Rock, the rest of the show could have gotten a little more love. I just watched last night’s episode and I’ve decided that Tina Fey’s comedy is this year’s Office: the sitcom that, if it manages to survive one more season, will enjoy some critical bandwagon-jumping as people who wrote it off discover it has a distinctive voice. It’s uneven, but when it’s funny, it’s hilarious–I must have re-watched last night’s "Black Frasier" throwaway joke seven times. (Although seeing that kind of brilliant Family Guy visual joke in a live-action show always makes me wonder: how can they afford casting, shooting time and creating an entire set for one eight-second gag? A show with 30 Rock’s ratings must have to keep a careful eye on its budget.)

But compared to the annual artistic war crime that the Emmy nominations have become, this is nothing. Reading the Globe’s list, you’d even think the people compiling it have actually watched an hour or two of TV in the past year. The foreign press really are different.

Update: I have been reminded that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association also snubbed the much-deserving and much-needing-help Friday Night Lights. A legitimate beef. What can I say? They are the foreign press, and it is football. They don’t understand why we don’t play it with our feet.