The Golden Globes nominations are out (Check out the TV specific list here, or the full list here), and provided you have no expectation of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association being logical in their selections they’re about what you would expect. So, in other words, they’re kind of ridiculous.
For the most part, the nominations are driven by four separate impulses, all of which are almost like fetishes that the HFPA (who are mysterious and generally not very reputable) refuses to give up year after year. Their desire, at the end of the day, is to create nominees that bring in audiences and that provide them a false sense of credibility: after all, if every A-list Hollywood star who happened to be in a movie this year gets nominated, who dares to question what the Golden Globes aren’t connected with popular culture?
Of course, when it comes to both film television there’s much more involved than popular culture, so let’s take a look at the three main impulses of the HFPA (on the TV side, at least), and then after the jump offer a bit more analysis.
The “Star” Fetish
If you’ve been on a hit show before, your chances of being nominated skyrocket. Julianna Margulies, nominated for the Good Wife, spent years on E.R. Courtney Cox, nominated for Cougar Town, was on a little show called Friends. Edie Falco, nominated for Nurse Jackie, was on another little show called The Sopranos. These aren’t always undeserving nominees (I don’t entirely disprove of any of these candidates, although Cox is not even close to the best thing about Cougar Town), but they are always there as much for their previous fame as they are for their current role.
The “New” Fetish
The HFPA wants nothing more than to be relevant, but their idea of relevancy is fetishizing the new. Yes, Glee fit into the show’s love for musicals (which, after all, kind of have their own category in the film awards), but it was also something new and shiny, which gets Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, and Jane Lynch nominations. And Modern Family, without a single other nomination on the board, sneaks into Best Comedy Series – I’d say it’s because you just can’t separate anyone from the ensemble, but frankly it’s just because the Globes only value it for its newness.
The “HBO” Fetish
When in doubt, you can presume that a HFPA member has turned their television to HBO: the network’s pedigreed garnered a host of nominations which in some ways fly against the previous lenses, both positive (Big Love grabs three noms for series, Bill Paxton and Chloe Sevigny, Hung grabs acting nods for Thomas Jane and Jane Adams) and negative (Entourage picks up a best series not over Hung, Nurse Jackie, United States of Tara, Anna Paquin gets nominated over Katey Sagal, etc.). It’s like HBO is their default, which isn’t always a terrible thing (I really liked Hung) but does feel like a leftover impulse from the Sopranos era considering the breadth of great drama/comedy on other cable channels (Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad).
Now, there are other trends that come into effect, like their love of foreign nominees (Simon Baker for The Mentalist, for example) or how they love comeback stories (Teri Hatcher winning over Felicity Huffman/Marcia Cross for Desperate Housewives’ first season), but for the most part you can boil the awards down to these three basic fetishes, which becomes a problem when a show doesn’t fit into this mould. The Big Bang Theory is the kind of show that made a splash at the Emmys with Jim Parsons grabbing a nomination, but the HFPA were behind the trend on that one (missing it when it was new), and Parsons isn’t a big star (or foreign), and the show isn’t on HBO. Compare with Neil Patrick Harris, who might also be on a “not new” CBS series but whose role on How I Met Your Mother is a definitive comeback for a former child star – he was able to overcome his show being skipped/unnoticed, while Parsons isn’t.
Overall, this is not the worst Golden Globe nominations ever: the usual imbalance of series/miniseries/tv movie that exists in the bizarre combined supporting acting categories went heavily in Series’ favour, for example. And if there’s one positive thing we can say about them, it’s that they make the Emmy voters look like geniuses, and I guess that’s a good thing…sort of? Anyways, let’s throw in some extra thoughts in the bullets.
- The Supporting Actor category is insane only because they’re making voters choose between Michael Emerson and Neil Patrick Harris – it’s like Sophie’s Choice!
- Speaking of Sophie’s Choice, how will the voters ever choose between Meryl Streep and Meryl Streep? That’s what she gets for being in two comedies in one year – diversify, Meryl!
- Mad Men puts up its usual set of nominations (Series, Actor, Actress), but again January Jones grabs the nod over Elisabeth Moss. This isn’t a situation where I disagree, per se, but it is a situation where January Jones used to be in movies where Elisabeth Moss did not.
- With William Hurt, Glenn Close and Rose Byrne nominated for Damages, what does FX have to do in order to get any other nominations? No series nod for Damages was a bit of a surprise, and if even that show couldn’t get into the race one wonders what chance Sons of Anarchy (with far more quality, but far less starpower) ever had.
- Great to see John Lithgow get a nod for Supporting Actor on Dexter, but I’ll be curious to see if he is submitted as credited (Guest Star) at the Emmys or placed into the supporting category: they went with the former for Jimmy Smits last year, but Lithgow might have had enough content to push the latter should Showtime decide to go that route.
- In terms of the chances of the Glee nominees, Jane Lynch (for also co-starring in Julie and Julia this year) and Lea Michele (for both singing and being young, two more HFPA fetishes) are both heavily in contention. Matthew Morrison, however, has no chance whatsoever.