Good Awards, Lousy Host
I tend to go out of my way when writing my reactions to award shows to generally ignoring how the actual ceremony went, and focusing on the awards. However, this year I can’t help myself because of my incredible antipathy towards perennial host Ricky Gervais.
I should make it clear straight out that I have never like anything Ricky Gervais has done. His British comedies, with the sole exception of Extras, have never been appealing to me, always seem to deal with something truly awkward and unpleasant, and even though he tends to write the leads for himself, he always seems miscast. So my main exposure to him over the years have been the Golden Globes, and each successive occasion, I’m reminded of a Simpson parody which contains a sign with his face on it: “Do Not Let This Man Host” And considering that there’s always some remark from a presenter admonishing Gervais, you have to ask: ”Why don’t they do that?”
Gervais has always struck me as having the attitude of a smarmy matire’d at a restaurant you don’t want to eat at. His jokes are always brutal and unpleasant, which is the exact wrong tone for any awards show. And considering the best reaction he gets from a mostly drunk audience is awkward laughter, it’s always struck me as bizarre why he was asked back four times. Each time, he seems more and more disconnected (among his first lines in the monologue were “This is my last time” and “I don’t care any more”) and much of the time last night, he genuinely seemed to be going through the motions. Gervais is the best argument for the Globes going hostless especially since they spent more than a decade doing just that, and no one complained. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler find time in your schedule, we need you back.
On to the awards. Even without Game of Thrones being nominated, it was a good night for HBO. Succession is a hell of a series, and I more than acknowledge it deserved to win at least as much as The Crown did. Brian Cox is a superb actor, and I’m glad to see him win for something, much less a master class as he gives each year. As I predicted, Fleabag was resplendent as was Phoebe Waller-Bridge. (Phoebe, maybe you could consider hosting next year?) And I was very pleased to see Chernobyl triumph, though I’ll admit to be surprised Stellan Skarsgard beat Andrew Scott for Best Supporting Actor. He gave a great speech about his not having eyebrows. (And considering his son won in this category two years ago, there’s a synchronicity to this that doesn’t always come in these shows.) And I was delighted by Olivia Colman’s triumph in The Crown, and even more charmed by the fact that, once again, she seemed completely unprepared. Try to be more ready for the Emmys, your majesty.
Once again, however, I think its time the Globes separated Supporting awards between TV Series and Movie and Limited Series. Patricia Arquette’s performance in The Act was brilliant, but it should’ve been in a separate category from Meryl Streep and Helena Bonham Carter. And really, Andrew Scott deserves whatever he get.
I think the biggest shock of the night came when Ramy Youssef ended up winning Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. Even in his acceptance speech, he admitted that no one in the room had watched his show. Perhaps Youseff will prevail later this year, but I have a strong suspicion that this is another one of those awards the Globes gives that the Emmys will basically ignore.
Its never surprising when an awards show becomes political; what was shocking was that the TV acceptance speeches were far more political than the movies were. Russell Crowe, absent because of what was happening in Australia, had Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon give a statement for his absent about the bushfires in Australia, which led to a series of commentaries throughout the night. But by far, the most political speeches were Arquette’s about the war in the Middle East and Michelle Williams acceptance for Fosse/Verdon which, like her Emmy speech, focused on woman’s rights. There was a lot of talk about the coming election, but surprisingly the President’s name never came up, not even from Gervais.
And, once again, I was delighted by the Carol Burnett Award, which was this year presented to Ellen DeGeneres. Kate McKinnon’s speech was hysterical and moving ( until she gave it I had no idea McKinnon was a lesbian) and DeGeneres, who has managed one of the most remarkable comebacks over the past century was typically funny, self-deprecating and not political at all. Hell, she almost made Tom Hanks’ speech seem overblown in comparison.
I wasn’t as satisfied with this years awards as last years, I’ll be honest. But more than last year, it showed the eclectic nature of the HFPA when it comes to TV than most years do. Just for the love of God, take Gervais at his word, and don’t ask him back.