Netflix Royalty Rules at Golden Globes — but Why Not ‘Bridgerton’?

Netflix is the big winner, but will its luck hold for the main event?
The Crown S4. Picture shows: Princess Diana (EMMA CORRIN)
Emma Corrin in "The Crown"
Des Willie/Netflix

The lyrics may change, but the song remains the same. That’s how it seems, at least, in the aftermath of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Wednesday announcement of nominees for the 78th Golden Globe Awards.

It was Netflix landing at the top of the heap with 20 TV nominations for their efforts, including six nominations for the fourth season of “The Crown,” as well as four nominations for “Ozark” and three for “Ratched.” Plenty of other distributors also had fine showings, with HBO scoring seven nominations, including four for limited series “The Undoing,” Hulu had six nominations, with “The Great” garnering three, the Pop TV’s now defunct shining star “Schitt’s Creek” earned five nominations for its final season, and Showtime also earned five nods, including acting nominations for both Jeff Daniels and Brendan Gleeson for their work in “The Comey Rule.”

It’s a narrative that’s developed time and again in recent years. Nominations are announced for a prestigious awards show and, inevitably, Netflix ends up at the top of the pile with its number of nominations dwarfing that of the competition.

There are a lot of reasons why Netflix repeatedly finds itself so successful when it comes to garnering accolades, from marketing savvy, strategic release dates, quality programming, as well as, quite frankly, its ability to flood the market with content. In a way, its breadth of viewing choices eventually becomes an advertisement for the platform itself. There’s a reason why you hear stories about less-savvy consumers who don’t worry themselves over watching proprietary content like Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show” or HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” confident that the shows will eventually make their way to Netflix for their enjoyment. Because Netflix is where the shows are, or where the shows will be. And often enough, those people are right. Say what you will about the streamer: It definitely has shows.

That doesn’t, of course, always translate into Netflix being the big winner by the time the trophies are meted out at any given awards ceremony. When the dust settled after the 2020 Emmy Award nominations, Netflix had garnered an astonishing 160 nominations total, easily outperforming its cable competitor HBO which nabbed a respectable 107 noms. But after the statuettes had been hand-delivered to winners in lockdown, it was HBO who scored the most wins, with 30 to Netflix’s 21.

If that’s the context, then what’s the content?

The primary takeaway from the Golden Globes nominations is that Netflix is very good at playing the game. The streamer made headlines several weeks ago when it clarified the category submissions for the performers in “The Crown,” dividing its ridiculously strong set of contenders evenly, with Olivia Colman and Emma Corrin in lead actress and Gillian Anderson and Helena Bonham Carter in supporting actress.

It’s a play that paid off in spades at the Golden Globes with all four actresses scoring nominations, in addition to the series overall, as well as Josh O’Connor who newly found himself competing in lead actor as opposed to supporting. This show of strength could be very significant down the line, once the Emmy Awards wend their way to the surface. If the drama categories look soft come summer, then look for “The Crown” to sweep into the Emmys in a way that would make Pray Tell — or any queen — proud.

BridgertonLiam Daniel / ©Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

Speaking of queens, both “The Queen’s Gambit” and star Anya Taylor-Joy nabbed nominations, significant as the limited series category boasted a mixed bag of new releases and old favorites, thanks to eligibility rules. Both will face off against previous Emmy nominees, in Cate Blanchett from “Mrs. America” and Shira Haas in “Unorthodox,” and new contenders including Nicole Kidman in “The Undoing.”

But not all of Netflix’s royalty staked its claim at the Golden Globes. “Bridgerton,” the steamy period drama from producer Shonda Rhimes that viewers couldn’t stop obsessing over was snubbed by the HFPA, a curious exclusion from an organization that loves to be the first to tout a hot new series.

The HFPA has a long history of celebrating buzzy series, largely cast with unknowns, seemingly in the hopes of being the first to do so. “Outlander” had a drama series nod here and “Downton Abbey” had great success with the organization. So why not “Bridgerton”? The answer may be in the organization’s persistent reluctance to recognize the work of Shonda Rhimes; being the highest-paid showrunner in TV doesn’t carry much sway, apparently.

Sexy royals aside, Netflix wasn’t the only big winner from the Golden Globe nominations. HBO Max staked a claim in comedy, with a series nomination for “Flight Attendant” and star Kaley Cuoco, as did Apple TV+, who managed to translate enthusiasm for “Ted Lasso” into nominations for both series and lead Jason Sudeikis. Of course, “Schitt’s Creek” would also be considered a big winner after grabbing five nominations, but with its distributor defunct and the series ended, it feels more like a coffee course and less like an amuse-bouche.

The nominations also saw the entry of Amazon Prime Video’s “Small Axe” into the field of play. Steve McQueen’s collection of five films sparked plenty of chatter upon release and with nominations for both series and John Boyega, it could prove to be an extremely strong contender in limited/anthology series as awards season continues.

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