There are many firsts in this year’s Golden Globe nominations, but among the most remarkable is a subtle sea change in the best TV comedy series field.
Not only are four of the five contenders first-time nominees (second-season series “Orange Is the New Black” was entered as a drama last year and missed the field), but four of the five are overseen by female showrunners.
In addition to Jenji Kohan’s “Orange” from Netflix, the Globe noms announcement also brought a third consecutive series mention for HBO’s “Girls” (overseen by Jenni Konner and star Lena Dunham) along with recognition for critically praised freshmen “Transparent” (created by Jill Soloway and available on Amazon Instant Video) and the CW’s “Jane the Virgin” (run by Jennie Urman). HBO’s “Silicon Valley” is the literal odd man out.
“I love hearing people say, ‘I don’t think women are funny,'” says “Jane the Virgin” leading lady and first-time nominee Gina Rodriguez. “Well, clearly that’s not true! It’s nice for the world to be seeing that. I know personally, having an amazing and brilliant female showrunner is so empowering and encouraging. Women are here and are making an impact. Here’s the proof.”
“It’s literally all my favorite shows on television,” says Dunham of the mix. “Something that’s so cool about the Hollywood Foreign Press is that they recognize new and groundbreaking and forward-thinking programming.”
That’s certainly true of this year’s lineup. “Girls” explores the lives of twentysomething singles in the Big Apple with a particularly feminist slant on relationships, careers and growing up. “Orange” deliciously bobs and weaves between diverse storylines spotlighting characters of multiple races, sexual orientations, gender identities and economic backgrounds. “Jane” could qualify as U.S. network television’s first bilingual weekly series and is built around a feisty heroine who not only insists on making her own reproductive decisions but also maintains her virginity without seeming like a prude. And “Transparent” is positively earth-shattering in its thoughtful depiction of the trans experience (as seen through the eyes of a seventysomething protagonist — another ultra-rare choice in youth-obsessed U.S. entertainment).
“These are all totally different shows,” says Urman. “They all have something to say, too, in comedy, which I really love. When I was starting out, there weren’t a lot of women in these positions. To see so many women in the category is awesome to me.”
The drama race can’t boast quite the same stats when it comes to honoring women, though it does include Showtime’s “The Affair” (co-created and overseen by Sarah Treem) and CBS’ “The Good Wife,” run by married couple Robert and Michelle King. Other female-run dramas that missed the cut include Showtime’s “Masters of Sex” and ABC’s “Scandal.”
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the comedy nominees all hail from outlets willing to think outside the box: digital outlets Amazon and Netflix, weblet the CW and the grandmother of risk-taking TV, HBO.
“If you just think about it as people who are dismantling the power structures, this white male point of view …” observes Soloway, who finds herself at a rare loss for words. “For me to think about being [at the Globe ceremony] with Jenni Konner, with Amy and Tina hosting, and the other women nominees — having been told time and again we’re not funny — it’s just amazing. We’re gonna be the majority in that room.”
“It seems like there’s a lot of revolutions in this particular moment,” adds “Transparent” star Jeffrey Tambor in a nod to his showrunner, the series’ subject matter and the fact that it’s distributed digitally by Amazon. “Per the list [of nominees] you just said, and the people you just mentioned, it seems to me again that content is king. That makes me so happy. This is what I went in it for.”