In a world full of inessential awards shows, the Golden Globes is perhaps the most inessential. The shadowy cabal known as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is just as famous for its bizarre nominations as it is the glad-handing, attention, and let’s be real, money, it likely accepts from Hollywood elite in the lead-up to those nominations. Yet, while all the criticisms of the Globes and the HPFA are valid, this year’s TV noms are actually great—like, better-than-the-Emmys great.
Look at these bad boys. The nominations are jam-packed with the shows we have been talking about all year: The People v. O.J. Simpson, black-ish, Game of Thrones, The Night Of, Stranger Things, Mr. Robot, Atlanta, and Westworld. Many of the actors and actresses you love so much are here too, getting the love they deserve: The People v. O.J. cast, Issa Rae, Riley Keough, The Americans’ Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, Donald Glover, and Winona Ryder. Outside of a few token “huh” nods—Mozart in the Jungle is to the Globes what Veep is to the Emmys, apparently—each category might as well have been imported from your timeline.
This isn’t a confirmation that the Golden Globes are Actually Good. Rather, it’s likely that the two of the HFPA’s primary directives—falling in love with the shiny new toys and constantly refreshing who it acknowledges—happened to coincide with a lot of dope TV this year.
There’s tons of turnover here. Remember when the Globes fell in lust with The Affair? Yeah, that rendezvous is over. Taraji P. Henson and Empire, Robin Wright and House of Cards, Wagner Moura and Narcos? All gone. Orange Is the New Black was shut out too. Last year’s drama series winner Mr. Robot got relegated to acting nominations.
Meanwhile, four of the five drama series (Stranger Things, Westworld, This Is Us, and The Crown) nominees are brand new shows, and the other one is the biggest show in the world (Thrones). Your mileage may vary on some of those newbies, but they’re all, at worst, worth discussing. Atlanta and black-ish bumped out Casual, Silicon Valley, and Orange Is the New Black in comedy series on the back of two of the strongest runs in recent comedy history. Every acting category has at least two new nominees in the mix, with many of the returnees—Rami Malek, Gina Rodriguez, Rachel Bloom, Caitriona Balfe—deserving of their spot.
On one hand, these nominations demonstrate the Globes’ thirst for trends. Shows like Westworld and The Crown were basically made in a lab to charm HFPA voters, to the point where it’s actually kind of shocking that people like Anthony Hopkins and Matt Smith weren’t also nominated for their respective series. The obsession with the new, and especially new roles for recognizable faces, is what leads to Nick Nolte scoring a nom in comedy series of all things for Graves, a show that apparently exists but truthfully looks more like B-roll footage made for a mid-level U.S. history museum.
On the other hand, how excited would we be if the Emmy nominations looked like this? Every late summer, everyone—from TV critics to fans—works themselves into a lather thinking this could be the year that the Emmys don’t turn in unresponsive, tired nominations, and every year, the Television Academy does enough to produce 500 too many tweetstorms. The Emmys have definitely improved in recent years, but there’s a predictably to what kinds of shows and performances break through that shouldn’t be ignored just because it’s the industry’s highest honor.
The Globes, then, deserve some praise for always recognizing different and mostly new stuff, even if the underlying logic that produces those results is probably warped by high-priced champagne and wink-wink deals. The Globes have proven a willingness to celebrate performers like Rodriguez or Bloom while the Emmys continue to pretend that the CW doesn’t even exist. Come July, This Is Us will be lucky to score one Emmy nomination; here, riding a wave of buzz and high ratings (and a not-at-all-curious placement on the network that airs the Globes), it’s one of the night’s most acknowledged shows. Even the Globes’ biggest gaffe—showing love to Mozart in the Jungle—seems preferable to the Emmys insistence on spotlighting stuff like The Big Bang Theory.
Likewise, I can’t even imagine the Emmys refreshing its nominees in big categories this much over a three year period, let alone year-to-year. The Emmys have nominated House of Cards in drama series four times; even the HFPA realized that David Fincher wasn’t around as much anymore, so it’s time to stop pretending that show is good. Julia Louis-Dreyfus deserves every Emmy she’ll ever win, but each victory is routine now; thinking about how she’ll stack up against Rodriguez, Bloom, Rae, or most likely Sarah Jessica Parker, is far more interesting.
Awards shows aren’t meaningless, but with the comically large sums of money dedicated to For Your Consideration ads and the sheer number of ceremonies each year, we really do take them too seriously. Unpredictably, change, newness—these are the only tools we have to fight back against the self-seriousness of these awards shows. “Getting it right” or nominating the “most deserving” people is a fool’s errand, especially on TV when there’s an enormously deep pool from which to select. That’s what the Globes and the HFPA understands, and what the Emmys and the Television Academy could stand to embrace a bit more.