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Golden Globes TV Awards: The Edge of Reason (Analysis)

Golden Globes TV Awards: The Edge of Reason (Analysis)

By the time Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle” won the award for Best Comedy/Musical Series at Sunday night’s Golden Globe Awards, it was clear that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was unafraid to stake out new ground with its TV awards this year—at the risk of neglecting to honor the popular and, on occasion, the good. And then Lady Gaga took her turn at the podium after winning Best Supporting Actress, comparing herself to Cher in “John Patrick Shanley’s ‘Moonstruck,'” as if to drive home the point. It turns out that the HFPA’s desire to defy expectations, which I praised after its idiosyncratic TV nominations, is (still) subject to the same strange whims as ever.    

READ MORE: “Golden Globes: Finally, an Awards Group Looks to the Future of TV, Not the Past”

Like Ricky Gervais’ comic stylings—”Shut up, you disgusting, pill-popping, sexual deviant scum,” his opening monologue began—the Globes strained for relevance, only to become boxed in by the voters’ own brash gambit. As I wrote in October (sagely, it turns out) of the decision to bring back the dry comedian, who preferred conducting a roast to emceeing an awards ceremony, there was something about the “edginess” on display in the TV categories that felt exceedingly fake. In the attempt to break ranks with the staid TV Academy, it appears the HFPA may have overcorrected.

That’s not to say the winners were necessarily undeserving, even if choosing Gaga over Kirsten Dunst (“Fargo”) and Felicity Huffman (“American Crime”) for the morass of FX’s “American Horror Story: Hotel” seems unabashedly craven. “Mr. Robot” (USA) may not be the best drama on television, but it’s a sharp and entertaining newcomer as deserving as any of its fellow nominees; Maura Tierney is terrific in “The Affair” (Showtime), though Regina King is doing equally nuanced and powerful work on a series with broadcast limitations. As surprise Best Actress (Comedy/Musical) winner Rachel Bloom reminded us in her winsome, overjoyed acceptance speech, for the CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” drawing attention to series that embrace risk is among the more noble opportunities offered by awards ceremonies. “There’s a musical
comedy on network television right now,” she exclaimed, and it’s hard not to share her enthusiasm.

READ MORE: “With Ricky Gervais and Chris Rock, Golden Globes and Oscars Aim for “Edgy,” Stay Safe (VIDEO)” 

In this sense, the Golden Globes admirably pushed the agenda—to celebrate the novel, the unexpected, and the brash—to the edge of reason, and periodically tumbled off the cliff. “Mozart in the Jungle” is an intermittently entertaining streaming comedy, but it’s probably the least effective of the six nominees for Best Comedy/Musical Series, and Best Actor winner Gael Garcia Bernal is nowhere near as central to its charms as co-star Lola Kirke, who was not even nominated. Christian Slater is perfectly fine in “Mr. Robot,” but his turn is a mere shade of Ben Mendelsohn’s magnetic, wounded performance in “Bloodline” (Netflix). As with the telecast itself, a frantic, almost desperate quest to hold our interest that nevertheless attempted to shoo off the ever-engaging Taraji P. Henson (“You gonna wait,” she said in response), the TV awards were so determined to appear “hip” that they nearly veered into the self-parodic.

If this sounds like sour grapes—after all, I correctly predicted but one measly TV category, Best Actress (Drama)—trust that I was thrilled to see Oscar Isaac triumph for the essential “Show Me a Hero” (HBO), for “Wolf Hall” (PBS) to beat out “Fargo,” and for Jon Hamm to cap off his superlative run on “Mad Men” with one last statuette. But as exciting as the nominations were, pointing to the future of TV instead of to its past, Sunday night’s winners served primarily to suggest just how small and eccentric a body the HFPA is, has been, and will be. Be careful what you wish for: not all shake-ups are created equal.

Read the full list of awards below (winners in bold):

Best Drama Series

“Empire”
“Game of Thrones”
“Mr. Robot”
“Narcos”
“Outlander”

Best Comedy/Musical Series
“Casual”
“Mozart in the Jungle”
“Orange Is the New Black”
“Silicon Valley”
“Transparent”
“Veep”

Best Limited Series or TV Movie
“American Crime”
“American Horror Story: Hotel”
“Fargo”
“Flesh and Bone”
“Wolf Hall”

Best Actor (Drama Series)
Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”
Rami Malek, “Mr. Robot”
Wagner Moura, “Narcos”
Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”
Liev Schrieber, “Ray Donovan”

Best Actress (Drama Series)
Caitriona Balfe, “Outlander”
Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder”
Eva Green, “Penny Dreadful”
Taraji P. Henson, “Empire”
Robin Wright, “House of Cards”

Best Actor (Comedy Series)
Aziz Ansari, “Master of None”
Gael Garcia Bernal, “Mozart in the Jungle”
Rob Lowe, “The Grinder”
Patrick Stewart, “Blunt Talk”
Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”

Best Actress (Comedy Series)
Rachel Bloom, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”
Jamie Lee Curtis, “Scream Queens”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
Gina Rodriguez, “Jane the Virgin”
Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie”

Best Actor (Limited Series/TV Movie)
Idris Elba, “Luther”
Oscar Isaac, “Show Me a Hero”
David Oyelowo, “Nightingale”
Mark Rylance, “Wolf Hall”
Patrick Wilson, “Fargo”

Best Actress (Limited Series/TV Movie)
Kirsten Dunst, “Fargo”
Lady Gaga, “American Horror Story: Hotel”
Sarah Hay, “Flesh and Bone”
Felicity Huffman, “American Crime”
Queen Latifah, “Bessie”

Best Supporting Actor (Series, Limited Series, of TV Movie)
Alan Cumming, “The Good Wife”
Damian Lewis, “Wolf Hall”
Ben Mendelsohn, “Bloodline”
Tobias Menzies, “Outlander”
Christian Slater, “Mr. Robot”

Best Supporting Actress (Series, Limited Series, of TV Movie)
Uzo Aduba, “Orange Is the New Black”
Joanne Froggatt, “Downton Abbey”
Regina King, “American Crime”
Judith Light, “Transparent”
Maura Tierney, “The Affair”

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