Awards Daily breaks down the top contenders in the race for Outstanding Drama Series at the 2021 Golden Globes. After introducing Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher, is the fourth season of The Crown unstoppable? In such an unpredictable year, what are the other frontrunners?
The Outstanding Drama Series lineup at the Golden Globes is an interesting race. The fourth season of The Crown is expected to barrel through the ceremony on the way to the Emmys, and there isn’t really anything to stop it. In fact, most of the prestige television of recent years isn’t even eligible with past winners and nominees like Succession and The Morning Show not airing in 2020.
Instead, the biggest shows of the year were genre shows that up until recently the Hollywood Foreign Press has resisted with an iron fist; even last year they completely snubbed Watchmen before it became an Emmy darling. This year, however, there is no escaping genre TV as the new prestige. The Mandalorian is the most buzzed about show across any platform. Lovecraft Country found a way to utilize horror and sci-fi to explore race in America. In a year without any superhero blockbusters, Amazon was able to fill that void with the second season of The Boys.
So far the conversation has also been heavily focused on Netflix and HBO and for good reason. You could easily stack a lineup with worthy shows from either network (The Crown, Bridgerton, Ozark, Ratched, We Are Who We Are, Lovecraft Country, Perry Mason, and the list goes on and on). But that isn’t how the HFPA operates, and we know they love to spread the wealth. So, they will definitely make room for networks Amazon, Starz, and Disney+.
The Crown has always been popular especially at the Golden Globes. The Hollywood Foreign Press was the first awards group to ever celebrate Netflix’s groundbreaking royal drama awarding its first season with prizes for Outstanding Drama Series and Lead Actress for Claire Foy (and again two years later for Olivia Colman). In the end though it was all just a buildup to Princess Diana with the fourth season (in all liklihood) gearing up for a potentially record-breaking year.
We all know that the fourth season will most likely be the most nominated show of the year as the frontrunner for Outstanding Drama Series and anywhere from four to six acting nominations. Olivia Colman, who has never lost a Golden Globe, will return for her final season as the Queen while Emma Corrin and Gillian Anderson are entering their respective categories as frontrunners for portraying Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher. We’re all expecting the fourth season to barrel through awards season on the way to the Emmys, and how well it does at the Golden Globes will set the tone for the next few months.
2020 is the year that Ozark finally broke out of the restraints of old television antihero archetypes and rightfully earned its place as one of the best dramas of recent years. Up until now the crime drama was a sleeper hit for Netflix and beyond two lead actor nominations for Jason Bateman the HFPA has never really paid attention to the show. There is a strong chance that will change this year with the third season entering each award conversation as the most nominated drama of the night whether that be at the Emmys or the Critics’ Choice.
Every other past favorite seems to be falling out of favor at the Globes. This Is Us and Better Call Saul haven’t been nominated since 2017 and very few shows are able to gain that momentum back. Up until now they have always made room for Killing Eve but after a season that few have found positive words for this might be the year they abandon it.
Last year The Mandalorian premiered at an inconvenient time for awards consideration with most of its buzz landing right after voters filled out their ballots. Now after a year of nonstop Baby Yoda content and seven Emmys for its first season, The Mandalorian is a major contender both at the Globes and just about every guild award.
No other new show was as desperately anticipated this year as HBO’s Lovecraft Country. After becoming one of the most well-respected directors working today for using horror to explore race in America Jordan Peele has finally returned to television and everyone knew it would be the event of the year.
And the first season did not disappoint giving watercooler moment after watercooler moment. But it was also messy and became one of the most polarizing new shows of the year. It still isn’t clear whether or not Lovecraft Country will be a major Emmy player but so far it has racked up five Critics’ Choice nominations and landed a spot on the AFI top ten of the year. Unless HFPA voters have a real aversion towards the more grotesque horror elements of the show it will most likely be represented here as well.
On the surface a show like The Boys doesn’t seem like something that would ever break into the awards conversation no matter how popular it becomes. Shows this action and superhero heavy are never taken seriously at the Globes even when they explore social commentary like Watchmen. But in a summer without any blockbusters audiences instead flocked to the second season of The Boys turning the Amazon hit into one of the most streamed shows of the year even matching numbers previously set by shows like Stranger Things. Amazon also has one other major drama up for consideration this year that caters directly to the sensibilities of Globes voters so it will be interesting to see what direction they choose to go in.
New Dramas Drawing Buzz
Hunters is the quintessential Golden Globes contender utilizing everything that voters are notorious for loving; historical dramas, WWII adjacent, one of the biggest movie stars of all time, and it comes straight from Amazon. It directly caters to the unique sensibilities of the HFPA and if it wasn’t for the fact that it premiered a year ago it would be a frontrunner. Instead we’re left wondering if it will surprise everyone by sneaking into the drama series race or if its more of a sole lead actor nomination for Al Pacino.
No new show is peaking at the right time quite like Netflix’s Bridgerton. We’re all well-aware of how partial Globes voters are to rompy costume dramas and the fact that it’s essentially a Regency era Gossip Girl only guaranteed that it would become a huge hit for Shondaland and Netflix. Last week it landed on the AFI top ten list of the year and this week Netflix revealed that Bridgerton is THE biggest hit for the streaming giant in the history of its network with 82 million viewers in its first month (that should be taken with a grain of salt however.
The only thing getting in the way of Bridgerton becoming a sure bet at the Golden Globes is the fact that it doesn’t really come with a breakout star. No one from the cast has stuck out in a major way and those two things usually go hand-in-hand at the Globes. In fact they never nominate new dramas without also bringing along someone from the cast, so either we’re underestimating the Bridgerton ensemble or the HFPA will ignore the show entirely.
The Golden Globes have never met a Ryan Murphy show that they didn’t love so of course Ratched cannot be counted out. The campy interpretation of Nurse Ratched’s origin story was a massive hit for Netflix becoming their most watched new show of the year (until Bridgerton that is) and it’s easy to see why. For better or worse Murphy capitalized on everything audiences have come to expect from him; high-profile collaborations with beloved actresses, highly stylized period aesthetics, and queerness.
Even though audiences could not get enough of the new Murphy/Paulson collaboration critics were much less impressed. And that tepid reaction from critics has soured the new drama’s awards chances but that didn’t stop the from nominating The Politician.
HBO’s gritty Perry Mason origin story is a show that seemed to come and go over the summer without much buzz although it became a sleeper hit for the network. Reviews were lukewarm for the first season but the Critics’ Choice still nominated it for three awards including recognition for the series, Matthew Rhys, and John Lithgow. It’s the type of prestige drama that is routinely nominated at the Golden Globes as well.
Should Be In The Conversation
Earlier this summer Luca Guadagnino returned to Northern Italy to explore the queer coming of age with We Are Who We Are in what truly is the most underrated new show of the year. Utilizing a young cast of unknown and untrained actors Guadagnino perfectly portrayed the vulnerabilities, uncertainties, and expressions of young adults today. It’s a crime that critics haven’t rallied behind this show at the end of the year and although its not a frontrunner no one should be surprised if it sneaks in at the Globes. Voters love stories about Americans abroad, especially in Europe and the cast features Hollywood’s best form of nepotism including Brian Grazer’s nephew and Martin Scorsese’s daughter.
In a perfect world P-Valley will become the breakout drama that storms through awards season as the discovery of the year. Coming out of nowhere Starz produced one of the best new dramas of the year with zero household names, hard to sell material about the women and queer men of a southern strip club, and pitch perfect storytelling. The show’s three leads all deserve to be in the conversation; Brandee Evans, Elarica Johnson, and Nicco Annan (who just received a Spirit nomination in their inaugural TV categories).
Awards groups notoriously and unfairly ignore Starz but the Golden Globes have always had a soft spot for the network. Voters have nominated everything from Boss to Outlander to Flesh and Bone so a surprise nomination for P-Valley isn’t out of the question and would be very much deserved.
Breaking Down The Top Contenders
|Strong Contenders||In The Conversation|
We Are Who We Are
Better Call Saul