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Where the Golden Globes Are Great: Highlighting New TV Shows

Given the glut of great TV, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association practically performs a public service.

A Very English Scandal

“A Very English Scandal”


Savvy awards-season junkies know to take Golden Globes nominations with a grain of salt, given that the choices often verge on the eclectic. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association tends to emphasize freshmen series in its nominations, only to ignore later seasons — see Thursday morning’s snub of “Atlanta” Season 2, just two years after “Atlanta” won Best Comedy Series.

But in recent years, that unpredictability has a very shiny silver lining: The HPFA also makes room not only for new shows, but also for picks that might not be recognized anywhere else. These shows are new to the awards conversation — or almost any conversation, outside their fanbases.

Given the oversaturated television landscape, this is practically a public service: Inevitably, there is so much that slips through the cracks. And it’s also an excellent tonic for the Television Academy’s bad habit of repeatedly nominating the same shows, over and over.

One nominee that benefitted in 2018 is the period docudrama “A Very English Scandal,” a limited-series nominee that very few Americans may have seen. Starring “Paddington 2” leads Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw, the saga of a notorious trial surrounding a closeted gay politician did well in its UK ratings but premiered last June on Amazon to relatively little attention in the States.

The biggest surprise, though, was best drama series nominee “Bodyguard” — a BBC/Netflix thriller that did not make the top five for any of Gold Derby’s expert predictors. The series drew a fair amount of criticism over its portrayal of Islamic terrorism, but thanks to Richard Madden’s nail-biting intensity (the “Game of Thrones” alumnus was also nominated for his performance) the series contains some of the year’s most powerful edge-of-your-seat sequences.

Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes, "Bodyguard"

Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes, “Bodyguard”

Sophie Mutevelian/World Productions/Netflix

Other surprising picks getting attention include FX’s “Pose,” which broke the mold this year with its trans representation in front of and behind the camera. The Best Drama nominee follows in the Globes tradition of recognizing under-the-radar favorites like “Enlightened,” “Pushing Daisies,” “Outlander,” and “SMILF.”

Surprises like this are possible because of the HFPA’s small member body. With fewer than 100 members, in comparison to the thousands who vote for the Emmys and the SAG awards, it’s far easier for a few outlier votes to affect the outcome.

That also means targeted campaigning can make a huge difference in terms of who gets nominated. But there’s another element: The 24,000-plus, largely American voter body that determines Emmys often overlook internationally set offerings like “Narcos” or “The Tudors.” With the Globes, the southern California-based journalists who vote on the awards write for international publications (and “foreign” is right there in the organization’s name).

Another benefit to nominating series that don’t usually get the spotlight is they at least get a chance to walk the red carpet into the Beverly Hilton, exposing them to viewers who may be converted into fans. Even if the Globes can be a bit specious, it’s still an opportunity to spread the love around. Shows like “The Handmaid’s Tale” aren’t lacking for attention, after all; give “Pose” the chance to strut its stuff.

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