‘Handmaid’s Tale,’ ‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,’ ‘SMILF’ Usher in New Era of Golden Globes Nominees

Handmaids Tale Marvelous Mrs Maisel SMILF
Courtesy of Amazon Studios/Hulu/Showtime

As the first awards show of the calendar year, the Golden Globes has often been the trendsetter in the race for trophy gold, celebrating new voices, new faces and new overall stories — some of which only premiered a few weeks before the nomination announcement. But while the eligibility rules remain constant (the Globes cover the calendar year), the ever-increasing year-round television model has changed the game. Given peak TV, shows that are new to the Globes race may have already made their rounds on the awards circuit.

There is no better example than Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which premiered in April and went on to receive 13 Primetime Emmy noms just months later, ultimately winning eight statues in September. That debut season was not eligible for the Globes last January, making it a major player in this year’s dramatic series and lead and supporting actress categories. “Handmaid’s” also nabbed drama series and acting noms at the Critics’ Choice Awards.

Similarly, new Amazon comedy “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” as well as first-time drama actor nominee Freddie Highmore (“The Good Doctor”), and comedy actress nominees Alison Brie (“GLOW”) and Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) picked up Critics’ Choice noms in early December, just days before the Globes also announced their contention. The Globes will at least get the chance to announce its winners first: its awards show will be held on Jan. 7, followed by the Critics’ Choice on Jan. 11. The Emmys will have to wait to weigh in on these freshman contenders until the summer.

“Midge is the most unapologetically confident character that I’ve ever read and certainly that I have ever played,” says Brosnahan. “That felt radical in a way that it shouldn’t anymore and I think that’s one of the things that resonated so strongly with audiences.”

Like “Handmaid’s” star Elisabeth Moss, Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”) has the added cachet of having already won an Emmy for the role for which he is now nominated by the Globes. (His Globes nom last year came not for the NBC drama, but for FX’s “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson.”)

Jason Bateman’s star turn in “Ozark” cemented his first spot on the drama ballot, while on the comedy side is Kevin Bacon, earning a surprise nom for Jill Soloway’s other Amazon series, “I Love Dick,” who competes with a familiar face to the Globes in Eric McCormack (“Will & Grace”).

Both McCormack and his show were nominated for Globes during the NBC sitcom’s original run (McCormack five times consecutively between 2000 and 2004 and “Will & Grace” six times consecutively between 2000 and 2005), but technically this revival could be considered a new effort. It is competing for best comedy with three other series new to the awards circuit: Amazon’s “Mrs. Maisel;” Netflix’s “Master of None,” which has seen acting Globes noms but not for the series as a whole; and Showtime’s auteur comedy “SMILF” from Frankie Shaw, who also scored an acting nod.

In addition to Shaw, a number of new performances from women across comedy and drama were recognized this year — a reflection of how complex roles are finally getting for female actors. Among the stories being told: single moms with burgeoning careers juggling demanding families (Shaw on “SMILF,” as well as fellow comedy actress nominee Pamela Adlon from “Better Things”); driven young women finding their own place in the world (Brosnahan, Brie, and Maggie Gyllenhaal on “The Deuce”); and a teenager struggling with trauma (Katherine Langford on “13 Reasons Why”).

“I think what’s important [are] portrayals of women that other women can look at and say, ‘Oh I recognize myself in that,’” Gyllenhaal says.

This year’s Globes noms also took a turn for the aspirational, as opposed to the anti-hero trend of just a few years ago.

Highmore, in particular, noticed, saying, “I’m proud that an optimistic, hopeful and unabashedly ‘good’ character like Shaun has resonated with so many.”