Golden Globes Came Close to Credibility, Then Blew It (Column)

Last year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. (HFPA) made some bold choices when it came to Golden Globes TV nominations and winners. For a moment, it appeared that perhaps the organization had finally shed itself of the stereotype that its members were a bit tone-deaf to what or who actually deserved the award.

Well, hold on now. The 2020 Golden Globe Award noms, announced on Dec. 9, featured quite a few head-scratching picks — offering up a reminder that the small, rag-tag group of international journalists still has a long way to go before reaching full credibility.

As one of my colleagues wrote on Twitter, “The Golden Globes are gonna Golden Globes.” And boy, did they Globe it. The most glaring omission came as voters completely shut out Netflix’s “When They See Us” in the limited series categories — and yet found room for George Clooney’s long-forgotten “Catch-22.”

Netflix managed a stunning 17 Globes nominations this year on the TV side, and another whopping 17 in film.

But the streamer’s power couldn’t get the HFPA’s 90 or so members to nominate “When They See Us,” a compelling and heartbreaking look at the wrongfully accused young men formerly known as the Central Park Five.

Executive-produced and directed by Ava DuVernay, the limited series won an Emmy in September for star Jharrel Jerome. Although ultimately overshadowed by HBO’s “Chernobyl” with most major wins (including limited series), at least it was recognized with 16 Emmy nominations. The Globes? Zero.

But that’s not the only confounding choice this time. A year ago, the Globes made history by awarding “Killing Eve” leading lady Sandra Oh the first-ever TV drama actress award for a woman of Asian descent. This year, Oh wasn’t even nominated.

Less surprising, but still disappointing, was the Globes’ missed opportunity to be the first awards show to recognize Regina King for her work as the kickass hero of HBO’s “Watchmen” (not to mention “Watchmen” itself). HFPA members clearly appreciate King, having nominated her last year for “Seven Seconds.”

But “Watchmen” perhaps isn’t the proper tick tock for Golden Globe voters, just as executive producer Damon Lindelof’s previous drama, “The Leftovers,” was also completely skipped over by Globes voters during its run.

Again, it’s a shame, as “Watchmen,” along with Disney Plus’ “The Mandalorian,” were perhaps the two most talked-about shows of the fall. But those series don’t exist in the world of the Golden Globes, despite the HFPA’s oft-written spin that it usually gets first crack at rewarding TV’s buzziest programs.

Are the Golden Globes, as a result, becoming (gulp) predictable? As much as the “When They See Us” snub is disappointing, it’s not surprising. “When They See Us” takes a deep dive into American racial inequality and its troublesome justice system — not the kind of topics generally rewarded by this band of international writers.

Globes voters nominated just three performers of color in the TV categories this time around.

There were a few pleasant surprises with this year’s nominations, however. Most notably, “Ramy” star Ramy Youssef, whose show depicts his experience as a first-generation American Muslim, was nominated for lead comedy or musical actor — up against big names such as Michael Douglas, Bill Hader and Paul Rudd.

It’s a huge get for both Hulu and Youssef, whose comedy earned high critical marks and is now in production on Season 2.

Also landing huge Globes attention was “Unbelievable,” Netflix’s limited series based on the real story of serial rape cases in Washington and Colorado, and one teen who was wrongfully charged with lying about being assaulted. Stars Kaitlyn Dever, Merritt Wever and Toni Collette were all nominated, as was the program.

Unbelievable” perhaps benefitted from premiering more recently on Netflix than “When They See Us,” but nonetheless, how one program about a miscarriage of justice landed so many nominations while the other was shut out is another reminder that it’s nearly impossible to make sense out of the Golden Globes.

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