The Golden Globes for movies are considered among the more important predictors of what will eventually win Oscars, while the Golden Globes for television are considered among the more random assemblages of names gathered this time of year. The Globes, voted on by foreign entertainment correspondents, have a history of making choices in TV that end up looking either prescient or a bit odd.
This year’s slate of nominees, announced Thursday, includes some folks who wouldn’t look out of place at the far more drab, respectable Emmys: Jon Hamm for Mad Men, Bob Odenkirk for Better Call Saul, Viola Davis for How to Get Away With Murder. But in many places, the list shifts toward idiosyncrasy, as in the Best Drama Series category. Last year, seven series were nominated in this category; of the six that were eligible again (excepting Orange is the New Black, which the Globes are now calling a comedy) only Game of Thrones returns. The rest of the rebooted category is made up of two first-season shows with deeply devoted fanbases (USA’s Mr. Robot and Starz’s Outlander), an international production streaming on Netflix (Narcos) and the biggest hit of the year (Fox’s Empire).
Any awards show willing to honor, in its top category, Empire (a show far more often covered as a business story than as a piece of legitimate art) along with Mr. Robot (an often-alienating piece of work about cybercrime) is deeply concerned with staying ahead of the curve. In some cases, things got a bit away from the Golden Globes: Four of the six nominees for Best Comedy or Musical Series are on streaming services, a number that includes both the likes of Amazon’s Transparent and Netflix’s Orange is the New Black (widely-hailed series loved by many) as well as Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle and Hulu’s Casual (lesser lights in many senses). It’s hard to view the outpouring of love for streaming services in this and other categories as anything other than an attempt to keep up with TV’s changing climate.
But that’s a worthier goal than simply nominating the same series year after year. The absence of recent awards-show standards like Homeland (zero nominations) or Downton Abbey (one, for actress Joanne Froggatt) is refreshing. And while for every acting honoree that feels delightfully deserved (Best Actor in a Comedy nominee Aziz Ansari for Master of None) there are two or three that feel a bit off (Jamie Lee Curtis for Scream Queens?), at least the Globes are governed by goals other than bland respectability. The nominations, here, alternately reward devoted viewers for their fandom of shows that don’t or wouldn’t get to the Emmys and draw attention to oddities and curios; that they diverge from the same slate that persists elsewhere of The Best of TV is precisely the point.