Critic's Notebook: Seth Meyers Names Names in a Scathing Golden Globes Monologue

I think it's very relevant and appropriate to ask if the Golden Globes shouldn't have done whatever was possible to get a woman to host this year. In this year of #MeToo and Time's Up in response to years of sexism and harassment and far, far worse, this probably would have been a great year to bring back Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, or even to go way out on a limb and give this spotlight to a star-on-the-rise like comedian-Late Night With Seth Meyers writer Amber Ruffin.

But if we aren't dwelling on shoulda/woulda/coulda, Seth Meyers has had a great run of increased hosting confidence and nuance with his NBC talk show and he was a fine choice to host Sunday night's 75th Golden Globe Awards and I don't think that, under the circumstances, he could have done a better job of hosting.

Somewhat shockingly, you know who probably shouldn't have had any problems with Meyers' hosting performance? President Donald Trump. Hollywood's favorite and most deserving whipping boy was barely mentioned in Meyers' monologue. There was a joke about how "Hollywood Foreign Press" would be Trump's least favorite three words, but that was almost the exact same joke that was made by somebody last year, wasn't it? But there were no jokes about Fire and Fury or Russia or really anything related to the partisan political climate of the moment. I guess there was a joke about remembering the time Seth Rogen was making trouble with North Korea, but he didn't turn it into a joke about Trump or buttons or anything else. [A "Please welcome a president who actually is a stable genius" joke came later.] 

So Trump was let off easy in Meyers' monologue, but you know who wasn't? Just about everybody else.

Meyers didn't tiptoe. He named names. Aggressively.

As he put it, "This is the first time in three months it won't be terrifying to hear your name read out loud."

He named names on Harvey Weinstein.

"Don't worry he'll be back in 20 years," Meyers said. "When he becomes the first person ever booed in the In Memoriam."

The crowd inhaled deeply. Meyers remarked, "It'll sound just like that."

He named names on Kevin Spacey.

Of the upcoming season of House of Cards, he cracked, "Is Christopher Plummer available for that, too? I hope he can do a Southern accent, because Kevin Spacey sure couldn't."

Again, the crowd gasped.

"Was that too mean? To Kevin Spacey?" Meyers asked.

He named names on Woody Allen, referring to The Shape of Water, about a young woman who falls in love with a sea monster, as the new Allen film.

But Meyers also shifted gears and was able to just joke about the nominated films and television from the year, and even if that material probably wasn't as sharp or funny, it attempted to simply do a more traditional piece of hosting.

Meyers called The Deuce a show about a time when "New York was so seedy there were two James Francos." He kidded that "Bert and Ernie have been doing a parody of Call Me by Your Name for years."

OK, fine, I guess it was a bit of a Trump dig when Meyers recalled how he's taken some blame for Trump running for president after a series of White House Correspondents' Dinner digs.

"Oprah [Winfrey], you will never be president," he said. "You do not have what it takes. And [Tom] Hanks! Where's Hanks ? You will never be vice president. You are too mean and unrelatable."

Meyers also got to plug one of the best parts of his late-night show, the "Jokes Seth Can't Tell" segment. Sadly, Ruffin didn't get to participate, but Jessica Chastain, Hong Chau and, spectacularly, Billy Eichner did. Then, in the standout moment from the pre-awards part of the evening, Poehler from the crowd chided Meyers for trying to explain the gag and delivered the punchline, sans setup, "Said the peach in Call Me by Your Name, this scene is the pits."

This was a much better and more varied addressing of unavoidable subject matter than when Chris Rock had to do a one-note Oscars monologue on the Oscars So White controversy. Could it have felt like it was more progressive coming from somebody who wasn't a white man? Maybe, but Meyers has done the work to establish his bona fides and in a tough situation, he did a great and scathing job on Sunday night.

Editor's note: The Golden Globe Awards show is produced by Dick Clark Productions, which shares a parent company with The Hollywood Reporter.