Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning, and the bulk of them were as boilerplate and awards-baity as expected. In the drama film category, The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game face off in a battle of British genius, along with a few other movies based on true stories, like Foxcatcher and Selma, and the annual token indie crossover hit (Boyhood). For TV, the drama category consists of a handful of “prestige” shows seemingly picked out of a hat, with little attention paid to actual quality: The Good Wife, Downtown Abbey, Game of Thrones, The Affair (really?), and House of Cards.
With Selma, The Good Wife, and The Affair as notable exceptions, this is a group of stories that, in essence, tell the stories of rich and/or famous, white, often British men. It feels really out of touch with what’s going on in 2014’s diverse world. Now, the Golden Globes have never been a paragon of ethical or perceptive award-giving, but this particular collection of movies and TV shows is particularly tepid, at least if you’re looking for soul-stirring work that actually does reflect the way we live now.
So thank goodness for comedy! The Golden Globes’ comedy nominations are delightful across the board, and — best of all — relevant. The best news of all comes in the Best Comedy, Television category. The nominees are Girls, Jane the Virgin, Orange Is the New Black, Silicon Valley, and Transparent.
Both Orange Is the New Black and Transparent are leading the conversation about transgender visibility in pop culture, at a time where more and more people are starting to understand what it means to be transgender. Orange Is the New Black is notable for having one of the most diverse casts on TV, and using its setup to delve into the lives of a wide array of women of various classes with empathy and sympathy, showing how they got to prison and how prison life changes them. Based on a telenovela, the CW’s Jane the Virgin is the most delightful new show of the year, and an authentic portrayal of a loving, matriarchal Hispanic family. Girls and Silicon Valley, both on HBO, have struggled with representation in a variety of ways (race on Girls, gender on Silicon Valley), yet their lack of diversity is also part of the point, in their portrayals of insular worlds.
The film market has contracted, leaving room only for world-conquering tentpoles on one end and micro-budgeted indies that feature young men talking on the other; but television has taken so many steps towards portraying worlds beyond the status quo, whether it’s Shonda Rhimes’ commitment towards diversity or streaming services like Netflix and Amazon launching groundbreaking programs like Orange Is the New Black and Transparent.
With the literal death of the anti-hero trend (RIP, Walter White… RIP, Don Draper?) indicating the end of an era, plenty of excellent TV is popping up in its wake, making a point to portray a plurality of experiences. It’s nice to see that echoed among at least some of this year’s Golden Globe nominees. If only this year’s long march to the Oscars could showcase the same breadth of topics and characters, beyond British genius versus British genius.