By Daniel D'Addario
December 12, 2016

With a slate of right-down-the-middle picks, the TV nominations from the Golden Globes are the last thing I expected: As close to consensus picks as any set of nominations from such a sprawling medium could be.

Best Drama, for instance, features three genre shows with massive fanbases (Netflix’s Stranger Things and HBO’s Game of Thrones and Westworld), as well as a beautifully if stodgily made series that seems designed to pick up awards (Netflix’s The Crown) and a major hit from broadcast TV (NBC’s This Is Us). Three of the five Best Comedy nominees (ABC’s Black-ish, Amazon’s Transparent and HBO’s Veep) are already standbys at the generally much less risky Emmy Awards, and the fourth (FX’s Atlanta) will likely be so once it becomes eligible. Only another nomination for Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle serves as a reminder of how wildly wooly the Globes were as recently as last year.

That, after all, is when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (the group of international entertainment reporters who bestow the statuettes) decided to follow their bliss more fully than ever before, seeming to put a general taste for staying au courant ahead of sanity. Mozart in the Jungle, a quirky charmer, was among many shows that felt nominated more in order to make a statement about streaming services’ new primacy than strictly on their merits; it won the Best Comedy prize, which felt like a choice so far-fetched as to be not really worth debating.

The Golden Globes still have room for surprises, but they’re pleasantly credible. In Best Actress in a Comedy, for instance, Issa Rae of Insecure is among the nominees—a richly deserved honor for a show that seemed, at times during its first-season run, a bit undersung. The Girlfriend Experience‘s Riley Keough is a fantastic nominee for the Best Actress in a Limited Series category—and a nominee the Emmys, which ignored her, may have been too conservative to contemplate.

Other nominations, like the one for Graves‘s Nick Nolte—a famous actor appearing on a show few are likely to have heard of, let alone seen—show that there’s still the impulse toward honoring stars. But this impulse is less pronounced than the show’s impulse to follow the Emmys’ lead in certain fields, nominating The Americans‘ Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell for the show’s fourth season only after Emmy did the same this summer.

Basically any set of nominees for TV awards could seem reasonable, just as two critics’ top 10 lists for the year might credibly mention, between them, 20 shows. What’s interesting about the Globes’ nominees is quite how respectable they are—that they generally defaulted toward what critics and other awards-giving bodies would otherwise ratify. That may be because the Globes are finally growing up. It may also be that shows about synthetic cowboys and spirits who communicate through Christmas lights and a world where Justin Bieber is a young black man—shows risky enough to tickle the HFPA’s sense of themselves as risk-takers—are actually part of the mainstream now.

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