As I joked this morning on Twitter, writing my usual “surprises and snubs” nominations postmortem is always easier for the Golden Globes than it is for the Emmys, because the Hollywood Foreign Press Association—the small, idiosyncratic body of entertainment journalists that puts on the Globes each year—is so reliably quirky when it comes to their TV awards. (Their quirks on the film side, nominating dramas as comedies and musicals as dramas, are so well known at this point that they’re almost predictable.) On the whole, I’d say this year’s batch is on the tame side: There’s no TV series or performance I’m angry to see included or left out, even if the list contains its fair share of head-scratchers. (Not among them, since I’m sure someone will bring it up: Maniac and The haunting of Hill House, neither of which I’d’ve nominated myself.) Read the full list of Golden Globe nominations here.
I must confess, this is not a complete surprise. The HFPA is known for nominating and awarding late-breaking comedies (see: Mozart in the Jungle, which won in 2016, and defending champion The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), and Netflix’s brand-spanking-new comedy The Kominsky Method has exactly the sort of éminence grise star quality Globes voters tend to go for. Nominating Michael Douglas for playing a former actor and popular acting coach in the twilight of his career? Sure. Nominating Alan Arkin, not too distant from Argo and Little Miss Sunshine, for playing his agent? Fine! Nominating a comedy created by Chuck Lorre in the year of our Lord 2018? I’ll allow it. But all three?! Sigh.
One of the strangest features of the Globes’ TV categories is the combination of supporting actors and actresses from comedies, dramas and limited series into megacategories with names like, “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television.” (The word that comes to mind here is “squanched,” from Rick and Morty.) Which means Gilpin is already at a disadvantage compared to co-star (and Best Actress nominee) Alison Brie. Still, it’s a shame to see her go unacknowledged for her extraordinary turn as Debbie in Season Two of GLOW, in which she fights tooth and nail against workplace sexism, grapples with her divorce, and tiptoes back towards friendship (or at least a detente) with Ruth. Thanks to Gilpin, Debbie’s drunken, emotional fire sale of the furniture she shared with husband is one of the most memorable sequences of the year.
Cohen, who won Best Actor (Musical or Comedy) on the film side for playing Borat more than a decade ago, is back in the awards-season saddle with his bizarre, polarizing political satire, Who Is America? Personally, I’ve never found Cohen’s facility for impersonation to be much more than a one-note gag, but what surprises me most about his nomination is that the series went from controversial to forgettable long before HFPA members turned in their ballots. In July, when Sarah Palin, Roy Moore, Matt Gaetz, and others complained of being deceived by Cohen around the time of its premiere, I could’ve bought the Globes wanting a piece of the spotlight. Now? I’m baffled.
I’m over the moon for Sandra Oh, nominated in the Best Actress (Drama Series) category for playing Eve in Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s scintillating, darkly comic spy game. (She’s also co-hosting the Globes’ ceremony with Andy Samberg—an inspired pairing.) But I want to be clear on this, since she was passed over at the Emmys, too: Killing Eve WOULD NOT WORK without Jodie Comer as Villanelle. Her perfect petulance, her childlike interest in dress-up and pretend, draw us in despite the fact that her character’s a cold-blooded killer, making her cat-and-mouse game with Oh the ideal pas de deux.
Perhaps because Pose seemed to fly under the radar this summer—I was on tenterhooks waiting to see if it’d even get a second season from FX—I didn’t credit it even the slightest chance of nabbing a slot in the Best Drama Series ranks, especially since the Globes, unlike the Emmys, have kept their categories limited to five nominees. To say I’m thrilled to be wrong is an understatement: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Steven Canals’ exuberant portrait of ball culture in the 1980s, a sort of soapy, fictionalized, mad hot rendition of Jennie Livingston’s classic Paris Is Burning, one of the best new TV shows of 2018, is probably my favorite nomination of the morning. With the possible exception of the sensational Billy Porter’s nod for playing silver-tongued emcee Pray Tell. As Pray might say: Triumph!
There are plenty of ways to break this down. You could talk about the fact that the second season of Donald Glover’s comedy—which won the Globe in 2017, when it was last eligible—was more challenging than the first, too far from the mainstream to be a shoo-in. You could take solace in the fact that Glover himself was nominated for Best Actor (Comedy Series). You could be happy for The Good Place nabbing a spot on the list (and I am!). Hell, you could roll your eyes at The Kominsky Method getting tapped instead of Atlanta and just say, “That’s the HFPA for you!” But really: How in the world do you not nominate the best TV show of the year?
Matt Brennan is the TV editor of Paste Magazine. He tweets about what he’s watching @thefilmgoer.