Here are the things you need to remember about the Golden Globes, specifically when it comes to the TV categories:
1)The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is a mysterious, shady organization whose members can’t always be identified and which has backed into a weird kind of importance in the movie awards season because of the timing of the ceremony.
2)The HFPA is easily distracted by both very famous names and shiny new things, and the members can be very easily lobbied.
3)As with yesterday’s SAG Awards nominations, the TV categories are a complete afterthought, done to bring an extra layer of stars to the ceremony and an extra demographic to the telecast. It’s not even clear that the HFPA even watches American television.
4)Because of 1, 2 and 3, there is absolutely no reason to get worked up over any weird thing the HFPA decides to do with the TV categories. It’s the Golden Globes. They are ridiculous by design, and only as relevant as we choose to make them.
So even though many of this year’s TV nominations are very silly and in many areas betray a lack of understanding of what’s actually happening in the medium right now, none of them should be particularly surprising if you’ve paid the least bit of attention to the Globes in years past.
Some category-by-category thoughts on the TV series nominations (the only vaguely interesting/odd thing to me in the movies and minis categories is that Dominic West was nominated for “The Hour” rather than “Appropriate Adult,” but he’s good in both, so no biggie):
Actress in a supporting role
Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story”
Kelly MacDonald, “Boardwalk Empire”
Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey”
Sofia Vergara, “Modern Family”
Evan Rachel Wood, “Mildred Pierece”
Because the HFPA chooses to mash up supporting performances from sitcoms, dramas, movies and miniseries into a single category, it’s hard to parse anything, or work up any outrage over who was left out. This would seem to come down to a battle between Smith and Lange, though don’t count out Vergara, given the HFPA’s historical weakness for both attractive women and foreign accents.
Actor in a supporting role
Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”
Paul Giamatti, “Too Big to Fail”
Guy Pearce, “Mildred Pierce”
Tim Robbins, “Cinema Verite”
Eric Stonestreet, “Modern Family”
Again, what can you do with a hodge-podge like this? Aaron Paul and others should be here, but it’s a dumb concept. One of the more amusing running subplots of the SAG/GG nominations has been the love for Giamatti’s glorified cameo in “Too Big to Fail.” With the SAG nominations, he’s been put up against actors who had to carry their films; here, his 10 or so minutes is up against people like Dinklage and Stonestreet who worked in entire seasons of their shows.
Actress in a comedy
Laura Dern, “Enlightened”
Zooey Deschanel, “The New Girl”
Tina Fey, “30 Rock”
Laura Linney, “The Big C”
Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”
Deschanel was a mortal lock as the Young, Hot Thing. Fey and Linney are carryovers. Dern is a former “movie star,” and the HFPA seemed impressed by “Enlightened” in general. The pleasant surprise is that Poehler (the wonderful star of TV’s best comedy) got in ahead of, say, Edie Falco.
Actor in a Comedy
Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”
David Duchovny, “Californication”
Johnny Galecki, “The Big Bang Theory”
Thomas Jane, “Hung”
Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes”
A year ago, I was pleasantly surprised that the HFPA resisted nominating Duchovny again – until someone reminded me that “Californication” had been off the air for more than a year and was therefore ineligible. So you have three repeat nominees in him, Baldwin and Jane, you have a beloved sitcom star playing himself in a showbiz satire (i.e., HFPA catnip) in LeBlanc, and you have… Galecki, the closest thing to an out-and-out surprise in these TV nominations. Sure, he was nominated for an Emmy this year, but that was alongside Jim Parsons, rather than instead of him. But given the way the HFPA operates, I can easily imagine that Galecki’s team did a better job of schmoozing them than Parsons’ people did. This is the business they have chosen.
Best Television Series – Comedy Or Musical
The HFPA likes it some cable dramedies about women of a certain age (the Showtime half-hours have usually done well here) and, again, they love inside-Hollywood stories, so there you have the “Enlightened” and “Episodes” nominations. “Glee” and “Modern Family” are still big hits (albeit not as much as it used to be for “Glee”), and “New Girl” fulfills the HFPA need to anoint something new and sparkly. Done, and no room for the likes of “Parks and Rec.”
Actor in a drama
Steve Buscemi, “Boardwalk Empire”
Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”
Kelsey Grammer, “Boss”
Jeremy Irons, “The Borgias”
Damian Lewis, “Homeland”
Buscemi and Cranston are holdovers from last year, but Hugh Laurie, Michael C. Hall and the ineligible Jon Hamm get replaced by a pair of foreign actors in Irons and Lewis (and isn’t it sad that the Globes recognized “Homeland” where SAG forgot to?), plus another beloved sitcom star reinventing himself in Grammer. Since “Boss” was announced, Grammer getting a Golden Globe nomination was a fait accompli. It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see him beat Buscemi.
Actress in a drama
Claire Danes, “Homeland”
Mireille Enos, “The Killing”
Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife”
Madeline Stowe, “Revenge”
Callie Thorne, “Necessary Roughness”
Margulies is the only repeat nominee. Callie Thorne steals away Piper Perabo’s place from last year as what’s apparently now a token Female Lead on a USA Drama slot. Danes, like Lewis, gets more love from the HFPA than she got from SAG. Enos was praised even when people turned against “The Killing” overall, and Stowe is both good on “Revenge” and another former “movie star.”
“American Horror Story”
“Game of Thrones”
I’ve already seen outrage on Twitter over “Breaking Bad” (and others) being neglected in favor of “American Horror Story” (and possibly “Boss”), but, again, it’s the Globes. The HFPA members like to feel like trendsetters, so there was almost no way they weren’t going to nominate a splashy, high-rated drama from two of the creators of “Glee,” and “Boss” has the Grammer factor. “Breaking Bad” has never been nominated. It’s much too scruffy a show (a meth dealer in the American Southwest) for HFPA to cotton to; if anything, I’m more surprised they nominated Cranston this year and last. If you want to take that show’s absence from the category as a reason to not take the Globes the least bit seriously, so much the better.
It’s weird, it’s dumb, it’s ridiculous. It’s the Golden Globes. Express your confusion if you must, but don’t waste time being outraged.
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at email@example.com