At the Golden Globes time of year, it is a much happier situation to be a TV critic than a movie critic. Because the Globes appear during Oscar season, the film press must take the nominations and awards seriously, analyzing the choices and snubs for their “influence” on awards season, and generally pretending that the awards are not simply the mercurial choices of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which gets treated like an august aesthetic-deliberative body because they throw an annual party on NBC.
We TV folks don’t have this burden. When the Globe nominations come out, as they did this morning, the Emmys are three month past us and nine months off. The eligibility season for the two awards overlaps so little that the Globes will often end up nominating series that the Emmys have already snubbed. So we can look at the nominations like the awards ceremony itself: a fun time, but worth taking seriously only as the subject of a drinking game.
This is not to say the Globes never get anything right. Sometimes they’re ahead of the curve. Sometimes they’re insane. But at all times their choices seem driven more by entertainment-press buzz and celebrity than anything else. You could probably devise a formula based on the amount of magazine covers and pre-launch photoshoots a show got in the last year, and it would give you a fair prediction of which TV shows will get nominated for Globes.
This formula would give you a reasonable explanation for the success this year of Girls (deserving), Jon Hamm (deserving) and Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (deserving, and also co-hosting the awards show in January). It would explain Downton Abbey (not as deserving as season one, but defensible). And it would also explain your new Golden Globe best-series nominees, America… The Newsroom and Smash!
Go ahead and firebomb the comments, loyalists. But if Smash is one of the Globes’ five best comedies/musicals of the year, it owes a lot more to the show’s glitz, stars and scads of pre-air hype than to the actual product, which to this viewer was laughably bad and tone-deaf, and even to most ardent fans a letdown from the show’s pilot.
As for The Newsroom, the high-profile HBO Aaron Sorkin project with its self-seriousness and deeply problematic ditzy-female characters: I know the show has its partisans. I’ll even credit it for a couple of improved episodes toward the end of its first season. But if you truly believe there were not five better dramas this year–I give you Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Justified, Homeland, Boardwalk Empire, The Good Wife, Game of Thrones, Sons of Anarchy and Downton just for starters–you should probably not read this blog anymore because it is just going to make you mad.
The one major omission that the buzz-formula does not account for is Mad Men, which the Globes passed over as best series. Even if you believe that season 5 was not the show’s best, like me, the show is still pretty great, exquisitely written and visually stunning–that, and it has the kind of glamor, sex appeal and entertainment-journalism buzz that the HFPA usually takes to like Don Draper to bourbon.
I can’t explain it. Nor can I explain some of the choices I was quite glad to see: Connie Britton in Nashville (even if the show is not entirely there yet) and Damien Lewis in Homeland (however loopy its plot may get), Louis CK for Louie (even if not nominating the show itself is a travesty).
In the end, there’s no predicting the Globes TV nominations, and that’s the worst and best thing I can say about them. Start stocking up your bar for the drinking games in January!
A partial list of TV nominations follows:
Best Television Comedy or Musical
“The Big Bang Theory”
Best Television Drama
Best Actress, Television Drama
Best Actor, Television Drama
Best Miniseries or Television Movie
“Hatfields & McCoys”