The Golden Globes, which for decades has been the kickoff to an awards season that often championed the more elitist and niche works via a small and easily swayable group of mostly non-American entertainment reporters, returned to NBC and a well-dressed capacity crowd at the Century Plaza hotel last night, Or, as host Jerrold Carmichael noted, “the place where Whitney Houston died”.
That particular line didn’t play very well with either the live audience or the Twitterati that followed every award and word with the tenacity worthy of an event trying to regain relevance and noteworthiness. But plenty of others were far better received, and if a primary goal of the reconstituted Hollywood Foreign Press Association was to presenr a more diverse and inclusive array of works and winners, they made great strides toward it.
As the Hollywood Reporter noted in its extensive coverage, six of the 16 possible human acting award winners were non-white. The films they represented were equally diverse, ranging from Angela Bassett’s populist and heroic work in the evolving and highly box office-successful BLACK PANTHER franchise that is successfully moving on from the death of Chadwick Bosema, to Michelle Yeoh and Ke Hey Quan’s acclaimed works in the absurdist EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE. Yeoh’s emotional acceptance speech, where she defiantly refused to be played offstage prematurely, was a high moment than more than made up for Carmichael’s uneven hosting.
But, to be sure, the tone he set at the outset, addressing the elephant in the room that was anything but white by directly relating how and why the HFPA reached out to him as host, set the appropriate mood of definace and determination that, frankly, the awards need to have any chance at all at regaining the prominence and respect they had prior to the series of revelations that ultimately saw enough of a boycott from talent that resulted in last year’s awards not being televised. NBC, still having contractual obligations, took advantage of their need to move the show from Sunday night and hedged their bets by choosing to turn their (relatively) highly rated Monday night to their new AMERICA’S GOT TALENT franchise expansion, and moved this installment to a Tuesday night that disrupted enough routines and schedules as to make it more inconvenient and less desirable for some nominees to show up (at least, that’s the party line), A disbelieving Regina Hall raised even more eyebrows when she noted that Kevin Costner’s absence was due to the recent heavy rains near his Santa Barbara residence that required him to “shelter in place”.
But the fact that Costner was nominated, and won, for his role in a populist, weekly cable television drama set in a heavily red-state world, juxtaposed with the numerous wins that ABBOTT ELEMENTARY and its largely Black cast achieved as a rare breakout broadcast network comedy, awards earned from a newly expanded voting block specifically designed to reflect a broader array of works and talent were two more examples of how truly inclusive these awards were.
As the Reporter detailed, there were more shining examples of diverse wins:
Yeoh is the fifth Asian actress to win a Golden Globe (but just the second in the best motion picture actress category, following Awkwafina for The Farewell in 2020), while Quan is the fourth Asian actor (and the first in his category since Haing S. Ngor for The Killing Fields in 1985).
However, another Asian artist did make Globes history: Composer M.M. Keeravani crushed multiple fandoms by prevailing over several pop chart-toppers in best original song with “Naatu Naatu,” from the Indian action sensation RRR. He is the first winner of Asian descent in his category, and the song, which is in the Telugu language, is the second non-English number to win since Italian drama The Life Ahead’s “Io sì (Seen),” co-written by Diane Warren, won in 2021.
Outside of the competitive awards, the night’s two honorary Globes went to two artists who have been lauded for their inspiring and trailblazing careers: Cecil B. DeMille honoree Eddie Murphy and Carol Burnett honoree Ryan Murphy. The latter in particular used his acceptance speech to salute five of his collaborators — Michaela Jaé Rodriguez (whom Murphy asked the audience to applaud as the Globes’ first trans winner at last year’s un-televised ceremony), Billy Porter, Niecy Nash-Betts, Matt Bomer and Jeremy Pope — as “examples of possibility.”
And if you really did want white, you got that as well–the “Lotus” that won for Best Limited TV Series and its unapoletically tipsy creator Mike. The Irish-centered BANSHEES OF INSHERIN and the Jewish-centric semi-autobiographical Steven Spielberg tour de force THE FABELMANS were also big winners. While they may not have been representative of the physical representation goals that Carmichael uncomfortably–but accurately–pointed out, the fact they shared the spotlight with the night’s other winners is as much of a sign of inclusivity and real diversity as the other winners’ breakthroughs demonstrated.
I’m a bit less upbeat about the ratings prospects for the Globes, which were waning in popularity even before the recent brouhahas and TV sabbatical. While the winners may have been from linear outliers, the majority of nominees from the TV categories were from streaming services, also the norm for the Emmys these days. It’s entirely possible these awards may be beaten in viewership by Tucker Carlson. I’m of the opinion that if DANCING WITH THE STARS could be moved to Disney+, the Golden Globes might be bettered served to set up an Emmy-like rotation among the likes of Amazon Prime, Netflix and Apple TV+. along with the conglomerates that embrace both streaming and linear seamlessly, essentially making broadcast TV a supplemental rather than exclusive audience. I watched this year’s coverage on Peacock, and, frankly, on that platform it looked way better than it did on NBC.
And, so too did the colorful array of winners–and losers–and the (at last!) reasonably normal-looking crowd that, weather permitting, showed up to take their bows.
The Globes should collectively take their own bow. And then entertain the kinds of options from alternatives to just NBC to find a more secure future footing.
Until next time…
(UPDATE: These Globes did indeed underperform the previous 2021 figures by double digits, both in total viewersip and demos, and essentially was tied by CBS’ FBI-verse. On the same day that the SAG Awards, another Oscars warm-up, announced that next yeat it will leave the Turner-verse for Netflix. Just’ sayin’….)