Critic's Notebook: How All the Golden Globes Nominees Are Already Winners

How any kind of publicity, even losing, can help series, actors, directors and platforms get noticed in the Peak TV glut.
Erica Parise/SHOWTIME
If Jim Carrey has a hard time getting his excellent series, 'Kidding' noticed, how much attention are other shows and stars lacking in this crowded content market?

On the television side, the Golden Globes doesn't have much influence. It's hard for an awards show other than the Emmys to move the needle on celebrating real, critically acclaimed achievement in the TV industry. The Globes are cuckoo. It's basically a good party for people who don't need them.

But what the Globes does generate, which pretty much all TV series need in this glutted world they live in, is publicity. We have reached a period in the Peak TV era where just having your show title heard aloud should generate fist pumps from all involved in said show.

"They just said Kidding into a microphone! Woot!"

It's crowded in TV land. It's hard out there. 

That's why I'm hoping that there's a different kind of winner during Sunday's Globes. Yeah, sure, the actual winners will be a thing, but for everybody else — series, actor, director, the platform from which the series originates — there's a real chance at publicity come awards time. For some it will just be the aforementioned blurting out of their name on a platform where the show isn't made. That's a step. For others, maybe there will be multiple mentions. Maybe stars or creators of other shows will give some love, feigned or otherwise, and mention those who lost out in that category. But overall, there's a chance for some very deserving people and shows to get noticed, to have the seed of free publicity planted.

Now, I'm not saying Killing Eve needs any more attention. I love the show and it's doing great and the second season will probably be more successful, viewership-wise, than the first. But it's a series that, relatively speaking, is in the upper echelons of at least sounding familiar to the masses. The words "Killing" and "Eve" are in the zeitgeist. I hope it wins something and it gets more viewers and it lives long and stays creatively excellent. But this isn't about Killing Eve.

This is about things like HBO's Succession and Amazon's A Very English Scandal and their excellence. And it's about people like Kieran Culkin (Succession) and Henry Winkler (Barry) and their performances. Beyond that, it's about other actors and writers not nominated in those same shows who might get a little bit of attention. Getting attention in this content market is granular. That's a good win for some people, and hell yes they will take it.

And yes, it's true, that right about here my rage about the limited scope and general ineptitude about Golden Globes nominees for television kicks in and it makes me want to scream (which is basically what I did in this piece, which Emmy voters should read if they have not, and maybe read again if they can in any way influence the decisions of the Television Academy).

But that's a digression. These are the different kinds of people and shows that will get some much needed publicity and attention someway, in some connected fashion, and thus be a different kind of winner come Sunday:

In the drama category, there are some easy benefits to see. Killing Eve should win handily and at this point Netflix's Bodyguard, which was the biggest British hit in years and is very thrilling but falls apart a bit in the end, will pick up some curiosity seekers. But it's Amazon newbie Homecoming that stands to pick up new viewers, partly because of Julia Roberts and partly because the show is rich and intriguing, though flawed. It's also a chance for people who haven't, for some unknown reason, considered Amazon a real player in the original content business, to come to their senses. In fact, six of my best series of 2018 were on Amazon, topping all platforms. As a byproduct, viewers who fall for Homecoming and heretofore didn't know much about the magisterial visual style of Sam Esmail, may then discover Mr. Robot on USA. Wins everywhere.

At the other end of the spectrum, FX's The Americans, my personal favorite of these nominees, is bound to benefit from its multiple nominations. All it takes is for viewers to finally say, OK, everybody's been raving about this for years and it has apparently churned out six amazing seasons, so let's check it out. That's the beauty of being late to the game in the streaming age — you can catch up damned fast: all six seasons are available to stream if you have Amazon. You can start to see the symmetry here, yes?

In the comedy category, I doubt anyone is going to topple The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (another Amazon series, by the way, if you're keeping score — albeit one that didn't make my year-end best list). But immediately three totally disparate but excellent series, Barry, NBC's The Good Place and Showtime's Kidding will get a little more well-known. I would argue that HBO subscribers know exactly what they are paying for, so Barry is less of a thing that needs nurturing, but The Good Place is that weird zone where it's clearly one of the greatest network sitcoms of recent vintage, up there with fellow NBC hits 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and The Office, yet it somehow lacks the same recognition. Here's hoping people get intrigued, realize they can watch the first two seasons on Netflix and the third between NBC and Hulu. At this point, the mystery is why aren't millions more people watching its brilliance. Maybe the Globes help that, even incrementally?

Similarly, whereas HBO people talk all the time about Barry, you hardly hear anyone, Showtime subscriber or not, talk about Kidding. That's a tragedy. The fact that it has Jim Carrey in the lead was I guess supposed to deliver the audience. And he is, in fact, superb in it. But the buzz level here needs to go way up.

I would also make the argument that losing at the Globes can still be wins for either of these series when people tune in and find out how strong the ensemble casts are. The Good Place (Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, William Jackson Harper, D'Arcy Carden, etc.) and Kidding (Judy Greer, Catherine Keener, Frank Langella, Justin Kirk, Ginger Gonzaga, etc.) are standouts from a casting perspective and new viewers will figure that out pretty quickly.

It's the same, as we circle back to dramas, for the long-overdue acting recognition across the board in The Americans (nominees Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys obviously, but also Noah Emmerich, Holly Taylor, Costa Ronin, Alison Wright, Margo Martindale, Frank Langella — again — and right down the line with numerous others).  New viewers discovering that cast will be astounded. And yes, Roberts is wonderful but great work runs deep in Homecoming (Stephan James, Shea Whigham, Bobby Cannavale, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Jeremy Allen White, etc.). 

The larger point here is that even though the Golden Globes has a history of erratic choices, those choices are coming from an industry in the midst of its Platinum Age that simultaneously aligns with astounding amount of choices that have left excellent series and superb actors missing. There is so much fantastic content people are drowning in that excellent work goes unnoticed and even the tiniest bit of publicity can lead to big discoveries down the line.

I've long ago lost interest in the Globes other than that it can be, in its better years, a fun televised party. So if I'm going to look at it or even consider it longer than in the context of a juxtaposition of Film Star A drinking Champagne with TV Star B, then I might as well look at it with a new perspective. And that's one where I can see some value despite its shortcomings. The Globes may relegate TV to an unfair secondary status and it often lacks a sense of understanding what the most deserving series are, but maybe the tiniest bit of accidental or secondary discovery can happen for series, actors and directors who could use it.