With two major wins at the Golden Globes, Amazon Studios is now a contender in Hollywood.
Like its SVOD rival Netflix, Amazon has been surprisingly quick to field awards-bait fare. The ecommerce giant only ramped up its original programming activities in late 2013 with the launch of comedies “Alpha House” and “Betas.”
“Transparent,” which bowed as a series in September after its pilot debuted in February, has been the most talked-about and critically praised entry from Amazon so far. Tambor’s no-holds-barred portrayal of a transgender person ensured the show would get attention at a time when transgender issues are gaining prominence in mainstream media.
Nonetheless, “Transparent’s” win surprised awards prognosticators as it edged out higher-profile contenders: Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black,” HBO’s “Silicon Valley” and “Girls” and the CW’s “Jane the Virgin.”
Not only was it Amazon’s first-ever Golden Globe award, “Transparent” also became the first online show to ever win a top series prize, comedy or drama, at the annual fete.
Amazon Studios topper Roy Price called the Globe wins “a thrilling dream come true” for the studio and the “Transparent” team.
The success will help attract more talent to the still-fledgling platform, he said. Amazon takes the unusual approach of posting its pilots online and making pickup decisions in part based on feedback from viewers. It has also followed the lead of Netflix in making all of its series episodes available at once for maximum binge-ability — a process that is starting to have a big impact on storytelling techniques and other creative aspects of series programming.
“This recognition will reinforce our focus on visionary artists who have a passion to create something new, meaningful and fabulous. It’s still day one at Amazon and at Amazon Studios,” Price said.
Series creator Jill Soloway and Tambor heaped praise on Amazon for taking the chance on an unconventional story. In “Transparent,” Tambor plays a 70-year-old father who comes out as transgender to his adult children.
“They have guts and they have taste,” said Tambor of Amazon. He also called the streaming service his “new best friend” in his acceptance speech.
The show was a passion project for series creator Jill Soloway, whose own parent came out as transgender three years ago. The experience led her to develop a television idea. “From the moment I began to understand who my parent really was and what I didn’t know about our family growing up, this show just made itself,” she said.
The show’s journey is all the more remarkable, she said, “for Amazon to have believed in us when I didn’t even know when we did it that we would be considered on a playing field like this.”
On the red carpet prior to the ceremony, Soloway admitted she considered other homes for the series, but Amazon ended up being a perfect fit.
“You want to be somewhere where they’re passionate about you,” she noted. “And they’ve been wonderful.”