If The Golden Globes Disappear, Would It Matter?
A Retrospective on The Golden Globes Track Record In The Era Of Peak TV, Part 1
As I mentioned in my article predicting the Golden Globes a few months ago, there was already a swirl of controversy about their hiring practices especially among minority hiring. Over this weekend, it has erupted into a fury.
On Friday, 100 publicists announced that they were planning a boycott of Hollywood Foreign Press until there were some major rule changes. A series of similar statements came from such figures as Scarlett Johannsen and Mark Ruffalo. And then, Monday came a one-two punch that the Golden Globes may never recover from. NBC announced that it was cancelling the broadcast of 2022 Golden Globes and any further rebroadcast until major changes were made. That same day Tom Cruise — still one of the biggest, and more importantly, least political superstars in Hollywood — announced he was returning the three Golden Globes has won.
It’s going to take a lot of work for the Hollywood Foreign Press to recover from this. The broadcast of their awards is their biggest event, and given how low the ratings have been not just this year but for the last decade, this will clearly hurt them far more than it will NBC. And it may cause a lot of reflection throughout Hollywood whether keeping the show alive is actually worth it.
As a TV critic, I have had my fair share of arguments with how the Golden Globes deals with TV over my career. And with so many other awards shows around — and many of them, frankly, recognizing better and more relevant series — I think it’s worth considering whether the Golden Globes really does have any relevance as far as television goes. It’s always had the tendency to recognize what is popular more than it was actually brilliant, and its been harder to tell in this whole medium whether it leads or follows. So for the next few days, I’m going to pursue a series of articles trying to figure out where the Golden Globes stands in the era of Peak TV, where it has failed, and how important it is to television.
Trying to give a picture of the Golden Globes throughout its entire history of television would paint with too broad a stroke, so I’ll focus on approximately the last twenty years. To try and stay balanced, I’m going to start with an area that the Golden Globes really have led — Best Comedy or Musical.
The Golden Globes were well ahead of the curb even before Peak TV — in fact, one of my first criticisms about television was a complaint as to just how ridiculous it was Sex and the City and Sarah Jessica Parker kept winning in the Best Comedy or Musical category over, in my mind, better choices. But the fact is, the Hollywood Foreign Press was willing to honor this show for two years before the Emmys was. (That it may have been part of a larger involvement with HBO is an argument I’ll get into later.)
Indeed, throughout the first decade of Peak TV, the Golden Globes were far hipper than the Emmys managed to be. They were willing to give prizes to Curb Your Enthusiasm and Larry David, something the Emmys still won’t do nearly twenty years later. They were willing to acknowledge the middle ground that dramedies had when they recognized Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty for Best Comedy. And even though I never agreed with its overall popularity, the fact remains they were willing to acknowledge Weeds in general and Showtime as a whole quite a few years before the Emmys got around to it.
And I have to give them a lot of credit when it came to Best Actress in A Comedy. The main reason I was so frustrated with Julia-Louis Dreyfus winning six consecutive Best Actress Emmys was mainly because the Golden Globes, during that exact same span was willing to acknowledge far more talented actresses. I may not like Lena Dunham, but it does seem wrong the Emmys never acknowledged her for Girls. The Hollywood Foreign Press was more than willing to do so. Amy Poehler was always shut out by the Emmys. The Golden Globes were willing to honor her for Parks and Recreation. And I was over the moon when Tracee Ellis Ross took the prize for black-ish in 2017.
And in perhaps the greatest example of how far the Golden Globes were willing to go to recognize talent, they gave two consecutive Best Actress prizes to heroines of series on a network the Emmys still refuse to acknowledge exist. Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend were among the greatest shows of the past decade. The Emmys never even gave the leads a sniff at a statue. The Golden Globes were more than happy to honor Gina Rodriguez and Rachel Bloom in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Don’t tell me they were always going for the more popular shows.
And for those who criticize the Golden Globes for their lack of diversity, its hard to make that argument when you consider some of the major winners in the comedy category over the last several years. In addition to those of my mentioned, the Globes was also willing to honor Gael Garcia Bernal for his work in Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle. (It was one of their more questionable choices, but a win’s a win.) Donald Glover was able to triumph for Best Actor in a Comedy and also managed to win for his extraordinary series Atlanta in 2017. And not even Ramy Youseff thought that anybody has watched his Hulu comedy Ramy when he won in 2020. That certainly isn’t the case now, and without it no one — especially me — would have discovered one of the greatest comedies on any service.
So at least as far as comedy goes, The Golden Globes have not only led the way, but demonstrated diversity in source material as well as the more consistent meaning of the term. Unfortunately as we look at Dramas, it becomes a lot harder to make that argument. I’ll go into that in my next article.