Jeremy Likes TV

I like TV. Probably more than any human should.

On Last Night’s Golden Globe Awards…

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Did I deride the Golden Globes as an invalid awards show last night? Yes, I did. Am I still going to talk about them right now considering they’re television’s big story today? I suppose I should. That said, it’s kind of insane that the Golden Globes have somehow become television’s second-biggest awards show. Realistically, we’re talking about a ceremony whose awards are decided upon by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) [1] and is a spectacle that thinks so little of television as a medium that last night’s Best Television Series – Drama award was presented prior to Best Original Film Score. Think about that – the equivalent of the Emmys’ biggest award was given out before the Original Score award. Really. Anyway, here are some brief thoughts on last night’s television “winners.”

Best Television Series – Drama: Homeland
The HFPA actually got this one right – one of the few television awards that you could say that about this year. Really, the only possible other contenders in this category were HBO’s Game Of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire and I felt, on the whole, that Homeland had a stronger season than either of those two shows. Its degree of difficulty was much higher and it passed that test with flying colors. It was also home to three of television’s best performances this past year (Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Damian Lewis) and although it performed decently in the ratings for Showtime this fall, the boost in profile that the Golden Globes will give it was absolutely deserved. So, good on ya for this one, HFPA. You got this one right. However, the fact that FX’s American Horror Story was even nominated in this category is laughable. And you must know that.

Best Television Series – Comedy: Modern Family
This one, on the other hand? I mean, it’s not that it was a surprise because audiences and many (though not all) critics seem to love this ABC series. And it’s a perfectly adequate show. But the idea that it’s the best? It galls me. It’s so safe and unoriginal and does nothing to advance the sitcom genre. It’s like saying a Volvo is the “best” car. It’s like saying Jay Leno is television’s “best” late night host. They’re not. They take no risks and I suppose are good at what they do, but they’re – beyond everything else – safe and boring. I easily would have gone with either Fox’s New Girl or HBO’s Enlightened in this category, though I don’t feel strongly enough about either of those shows to say that they were the “best” anything. And, much like the drama category, the fact that FOX’s Glee and Showtime’s Episodes were even nominated is an indictment of the HFPA’s cluelessness.

Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Downton Abbey
Don’t have too much to say about this category since I haven’t seen any of the nominees [2], but PBS’s Downton Abbey seems more deserving than the others given its placement on numerous critics’ top-ten lists for 2011. But the fact that it won in the miniseries category is kind of strange given that it’s not, you know… an actual mini-series.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama: Kelsey Grammer, Boss
I’m actually working my way through Boss right now and I have to admit that Grammer is pretty strong as Tom Kane, the mayor of Chicago in the Starz series. Without a doubt he’s left Frasier Crane well in the rear-view mirror and is doing some strong dramatic work from what I’ve seen. But giving him this award over Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston or Homeland’s Damian Lewis is a head-scratcher.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama: Claire Danes, Homeland
Another one that is completely deserved. Watching Homeland, it was clear that this year the line for any dramatic awards for actresses formed behind Danes. Her portrayal of a dogged CIA analyst pursuing a suspected terrorist while dealing with personal issues was a powerhouse performance. She was the only possible choice in this category, which inexplicably included Mireille Enos from The Killing [3] and even more inexplicably Callie Thorne from USA’s lightweight Necessary Roughness. What the what?!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Comedy: Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
Uh… HFPA, you are aware that Friends hasn’t been on the air in almost eight years, right? I know you love recognizable names and TV series that are send-ups of showbiz culture like Episodes. That stuff is like catnip to you. And the fact that LeBlanc is playing a heightened version of himself in the show? Probably too much for you to resist. Realistically, I suppose the only person who really got screwed in this category was 30 Rock’s Alec Baldwin, seeing as Thomas Jane (Hung), Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory) and David Duchovny (Californication) were the other choices. Oh, and as an aside, no acting noms for your “Best Comedy”? Surprising, no?

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Comedy: Laura Dern, Enlightened
Don’t have too much of a problem with this. I’m halfway through Enlightened’s first season and Dern has turned in some strong work. Enlightened earned a surprise renewal from HBO last month, given that roughly 150,000 people watched the show and on a couple occasions it earned the dreaded 0.0 rating in the coveted 18-49 demographic, so the raised profile that Dern’s win should afford the show will surely be welcomed. Dern was surrounded by maybe the strongest competition of any of the major television categories in this one with Tina Fey (30 Rock), Amy Poehler (Parks And Recreation), Zooey Deschanel (New Girl), and on a much lesser scale Laura Linney (The Big C) rounding out the rest of the nominations. The decent amount of dramatic heft in Dern’s Enlightened role probably sealed the win for her over her competitiors. And no Modern Family nods in this category either? Weird [4].

Other Notes:

*Nice to see Stringer Bell finally get one up on McNulty as Luther’s Idris Elba bested The Hour’s Dominic West in the Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television category. Except that, much like Downton Abbey, neither Luther nor The Hour are actually mini-series.
*Kate Winslet won Best Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for her work in HBO’s Mildred Pierce. As Winslet is an accomplished movie star doing TV, this was as close to a fait accompli as anything on this show.
*Nice to see Peter Dinklage of HBO’s Game Of Thrones win Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series – Drama and then end his allotted speech time to call attention to an awful incident in the news [5] by simply mentioning the victim’s name and then telling the audience to, “Google him.” Good on Dinklage to not only bring needed attention to a senseless act, but also to do it as subtly as he did.
*Finally, as I noted on Facebook last night, the fact that anyone associated with FX’s horrid American Horror Story won any type of award (in this case Jessica Lange for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Series – Drama) automatically renders the Golden Globes invalid as an awards show. Though, I’ve just spent close to 1,300 words talking about it so what does that say about me? Please don’t answer that.

[1] A strange cadre of writers whose influence has increased each year over the past two decades or so as the Golden Globes are often seen as a bellwether for films’ Oscar chances even as no one can really name a single member of the HFPA.
[2] Though I have interest in all (Downton Abbey, Cinema Verite, The Hour, and Too Big To Fail) other than Mildred Pierce. Heard that one was deathly boring.
[3] I guess mumbling your lines and wearing an assortment of really ugly sweaters gets you a Golden Globe nomination. Who knew?
[4] Best Comedy my ass.
[5] A violent dwarf tossing attack in the UK.

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