By Jalal Haddad
After being ridiculed for decades for their easily influenced decisions and constant star obsession, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is slowly becoming more concerned about quality while still making room for their usual confusing choices. New TV shows like Atlanta and This Is Us were able to enter the awards conversation even if they don’t seem like typical contenders. Similarly, long overdue shows like The Americans and black-ish finally received the recognition they deserve. It also wouldn’t be the Golden Globes without a series of head scratchers, though. Shows the average American has never heard of such as Nick Nolte in Graves, Billy Bob Thornton in Goliath, Elvis’s granddaughter Riley Keough in The Girlfriend Experience, and for the second year in a row overall love for Mozart in the Jungle all factored into the 2017 Golden Globe nominations.
The HFPA seems to be really advocating for a series of new shows that will need all the help they can get to be nominated at next year’s Emmys. The Crown and Westworld seem poised to take over the massive hole left by the ending of Downton Abbey and the hiatus of Game of Thrones. Emmy voters tend to have a bias against fantasy shows like Stranger Things and network dramas like This is Us, so the constant winter awards push only helps to keep them in the conversation. The Night Of was a summer hit, but in an ever growing Limited Series race it might seem too small. However, after a strong showing at the Globes, SAG, and the WGA, it just might be able to stay at the forefront of Emmy voters minds.
Next week the ADTV team will release our official Golden Globes predictions, but if one thing is for certain Thandie Newton is about to cement herself as the surest bet of the entire awards season.
SAG voters are typically known for recycling nominees year after year, and they typically rely on obvious Emmy contenders and Royal Shakespeare Company actors. This year, voters abandoned any past sensibilities and embraced a plethora of new TV shows. Along with the Golden Globes, SAG cemented The Crown, Stranger Things, Westworld, and This is Us as serious Emmy contenders. The sudden excitement for new television, especially on the drama side, might be due to the SAG-AFTRA merger from a few years ago, but it’s telling that past favorites and winners like Viola Davis, Juliana Margulies, Dame Maggie Smith, and House of Cards were left out especially when they were replaced by a string of sci-fi favorites that wouldn’t have been a part of the conversation ten years ago.
Voters did rely on their old habits however in the comedy races with icons like Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda filling up the actress race. If anything, it shows that network executives will need to campaign even harder to get newcomers like Issa Rae and Donald Glover the recognition they deserve.
The most welcome surprise came in the Limited Series race where the nominating committee singled out Bryce Dallas Howard for her one episode performance on Black Mirror, which (alongside an individual nomination for Millie Bobby Brown) might be the strongest indicator that the industry’s idea of what awards-worthy television is finally changing for the better.
Mr. Robot was the critical and industry darling of 2015 by picking up major wins at the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice, WGA, as well as surprise SAG nomination for Rami Malek which all culminated in Mr. Robot being the most successful new TV show of the 2016 Emmys. So what happened? Just about every precursor award so far has been relatively cold to the sophomore season of Sam Esmail’s hacker vision. The Golden Globes didn’t invite Mr. Robot back as a drama series nominee, although they did nominate Malek and Slater for a second year in a row.
Writers Guild voters completely left out the show after nominating it as a drama series nominee last year and awarding it as the best new series. With the overall industry enthusiasm diminishing, the second season might risk the chance of having a poor showing at the 2017 Emmys. With so many old favorites coming to an end, Mr. Robot has the opportunity to ride that first wave of popularity into becoming one of the leaders of new drama on television. Right now, the show is running the risk of playing second fiddle to an onslaught of more commercially accessible shows. We’ll have to wait and see if DGA and PGA voters insert the second season more fully into the conversation, but it is worth noting that those two guilds didn’t even join the party for the first season.
Readers, what TV shows are you most excited to see be recognized throughout the winter awards season? Do you think that these precursors are a sign that the 2017 Emmys will be friendlier to more popular hits and genre shows? Sound off in the comments below!