Tim Goodman: Golden Globes Noms Aren't Worth Getting Angry About (Just Have More Champagne)

Casual, Mozart in the Jungle and Mr. Robot Split - H 2015
Courtesy of Hulu; Amazon; USA

The greatest thing about the Too Much TV era is that awards shows, even when they’re wrong, can be right. A so-called “snub” for one great show is just an open door for another great show. Or at least should be.

In the hands of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, however, even the Golden Globes can be mind-boggling. But then again the Globes, at its best, is a pleasant corrective for the fresher and more interesting series that the Emmys will recognize in a year or two. It’s also a tolerable, mostly entertaining, Champagne-soaked telecast.

To give it any more heft is a mistake.

This year the Globes seemed to be struggling internally about what it wanted to be. That “we recognize new talent first” impulse is still alive, but the HFPA appears to have given up trying, as it did for a couple of years, to be taken more seriously than the Emmys. And that’s not a bad thing because it ought to wake up the Emmys as to its place in the industry.

With the Globes nominations this year, the awards show has gone out of its way to embrace streaming services and exclude (to a much larger extent than it or the Emmys ever has) broadcast television. And the emphasis further seems to be on loving the shiny and the new in the streaming world, with a collection of eyebrow-raising (Hulu’s Casual, Amazon’s Mozart In the Jungle) or giggle-inducing (Lady Gaga, Fox’s Empire, Starz’s Flesh and Bone) selections, then veering madly back toward critical consensus (FX’s Fargo, HBO’s Veep) while largely ignoring what it considers yesterday’s news (AMC’s Mad Men) and heavyweight critical darlings it was never going to pick anyway (FX’s The Americans and Louie, HBO’s The Leftovers).

All told, why not? It’s the Golden Globes. It’s not like you can work up much outrage with it anymore.

If anything, maybe this year’s all-over-the-board attempt to be fresh and different — while also hewing to its own tradition of nominating big names to spike ratings — will result in a telecast that will be fun to watch if not an evening of on-point assessment of the qualitative state of television to satisfy the critical community. The Globes has historically been more watchable than important, and that won’t change now.

The one constant the Globes brings is that what it fails to nail in the best series category, it tries frantically to make up for in the acting categories and, given the above-mentioned Too Much TV era, it’s pretty hard to miss there (although, ahem, there were some very dubious picks, like Christian Slater, Jamie Lee Curtis and Lily Tomlin in categories where amazing performances were blindly passed over).

Then again, abundance covers many (but not all) oversights. With so many excellent actors in countless quality shows, the Globes shotgun approach often feels liberated enough to reward the likes of Eva Green for Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, Caitriona Balfe for Starz’s Outlander, Wagner Moura for Netflix’s Narcos and Rachel Bloom for The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — each an inspired nomination you can expect the Emmys to pass on. But those only count if you get a few other sure-things exactly right, like giving the nod to the outstanding performance of Rami Malek in USA’s freshman sensation Mr. Robot while also not ignoring the fantastic work of Jon Hamm in AMC’s departed Mad Men.

Ah, but before giving too much credit to the Globes for seeking out gems lost in the onslaught of TV content, a moment for just a little ranting.

Best dramas: Um, yeah, that’s one way you could go. (Deep, calming exhale here.) If you’re going to do what the Globes is patently doing here, why pick Empire from the pile of popular soap suds and not, say, Scandal? Just to be a bit fresher? Neither of them should be on any list that’s a top five or six in our Platinum Age of Television, but if you’re going to be ridiculous, be accurately ridiculous. And why put Game of Thrones on here at all if shaking up the status quo is the goal?

Additionally, if all you want to do is be the first to recognize the next wave, how in the world do you not nominate Netflix’s Master of None for comedy? Sure, Mozart in the Jungle is fun (and good), but if it’s out-with-the-old time, then dump the brilliant Veep for being a representation of last year’s genius. At least be consistent in your deviations.

OK, that’s all I can muster — wait, sorry: Lady Gaga?! When you pander that hard, even the word “embarrassing” doesn’t fit.

Sigh. No, deep sigh.

Now, here’s a very serious thing to consider quickly: Even if this notion of Peak TV allows awards shows to conceivably cover their backside on supposed snubs — when there’s so much greatness, how can you go wrong? — isn’t it at least partly wrong to snub broadcast networks so badly? When you think of comedies like ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat and Black-ish or Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine being overlooked when they will make a lot of critics' year-end lists, then yes, it’s a fair question.

And if you’re NBC, which is televising the Golden Globes, and you don’t even get a single nomination? Wow. Nobody should get a freebie just for hosting, but is there really not a single actor on NBC worth a nomination?

Look, even commenting in brief on the Golden Globes in the context of assessing the best of the best is a waste of all of our time. It’s never been more clear that the Emmys should, seeing what the Globes are doing here, go in the opposite direction and attempt (and please, please, please be better at it than you have in the past) to be the gold standard of TV industry awards. Let the Golden Globes be, well, a thing that likes shiny gold objects like Lady Gaga and whatever else is pretty and new.

In that scenario, we can just go back to liking the Globes for picking new stuff the Emmys might miss (although, seriously, stop missing, Emmys). It’s fun to celebrate shows and actors worth applauding like Mr. Robot (and the virtuoso performance of Rami Malek), OutlanderCasual, Oscar Isaac in HBO’s Show Me a Hero, literally anyone from Fargo, the lovely and talented Gina Rodriguez, Aziz Ansari, Mark Rylance, etc. We should absolutely see those people sipping champagne on TV and getting recognition for their work. And it's easier to do that knowing that some other entity is taking charge of more accurately reflecting the best the industry has to offer. So if there’s anything to be taken out of these Golden Globes nominations, it’s that the Emmys' mission couldn’t be any clearer right now.

Email: Tim.Goodman@THR.com
Twitter: @BastardMachine