In 1956, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association began recognizing television shows alongside some of the best films of the year at the Golden Globe awards, which had been launched just over a decade prior. Once comprised of a coterie of journalists writing for international publications, the Hollywood Foreign Press began looking a whole lot more fabulous when the Golden Globes ceremony—with the assistance of Ms. or Mr. Golden Globe, a Hollywood scion selected each year to present the awards—took off as one of the most watched awards shows around. The HFPA is now made up of actors, directors, writers, and producers, and up to five new journalists are added to the mix each year.
These days, the ceremony awards 11 different TV categories, and it’s one of the best, most unique parts about watching the Golden Globes, which has succeeded partly because it presents itself as a sort of anti-Oscars. Each year, it seems like every other attendee is soused—unlike the Academy Awards, where everyone sits anxiously, food and alcohol are served at tables—and there will be at least two or three rambling, loosely coherent, off-the-cuff acceptance speeches (Jodie Foster’s “coming out,” Jacqueline Bisset’s censored speech, Emma Thompson drunkenly tossing her shoes away on stage, or even Elisabeth Moss cheekily flipping off the mani cam on the red carpet all come to mind). Meanwhile, we can sit at home, also tipsy, and watch our favorite TV actors hobnob with Hollywood movie stars during the commercial breaks. These days, of course, they are the same stars—some movie stars parachute into TV for a limited engagement (Matthew McConaughey) while others have crossed over in the other direction, from TV to movie stardom (Chris Pratt).
The other thing that separates the HFPA is its progressive approach to TV. While it runs fairly close to the Oscars in terms of the film categories, it has consistently rewarded the most deserving series, actors and writers in TV, in a way that feels delightfully surprising. While the Emmys tend to snub even the most beloved shows, the Globes tends to reflect the tastes of both the viewers and the critics alike, which, when graded on the curve of awards shows, makes it an outlier.
The Globes are also predisposed to honoring new shows in their infancy, and often ones that are a little unsung but with a cult following. In recent Globes history, two leading ladies of The CW—a network previously known for sentimental dramas like Gossip Girl and Smallville, rather than the whip-smart comedy you’ll find there today—unexpectedly prevailed and even delivered two of the most inspiring acceptance speeches at the Globes. In 2015, Gina Rodriguez won for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Series for her performance in the first season of Jane the Virgin, and Rachel Bloom won the same award the following year for her dazzling performance in the musical comedy, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which was also in its first season and bore ratings that were not as high as the likes of Veep. Is it a better comedy than Veep, and was Bloom's performance better than that of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, her illustrious fellow nominee? No and no, but we were surprised and a little thrilled by Bloom's win, and it brought a lot of attention to a show that deserved it. And really, should we have been shocked when the Globes have consistently celebrated shows that have an ardent, if narrow, following?
In 2002, Six Feet Under took home the Golden Globe for Best Drama TV Series in its first season. The newcomer was up against heavyweights The West Wing and The Sopranos, but the HFPA saw the quality of the underdog contender, and Six Feet Under only got better after. (The show's cast would continue to get snubbed repeatedly by the Emmys, naturally.) Before it was lauded as The Best Show of Our Time, Mad Men took home the Golden Globe for Best Drama Series in each of its first three seasons. Elisabeth Moss won her Golden Globe in 2014 for her riveting performance in Top of the Lake. Gael Garcia Bernal and Mozart in the Jungle won awards last year, and Transparent took home two Globes the year before, lifting up the streaming services early on as a platform to be taken seriously. And look where we are now.
This year, Sarah Paulson (who’s never won a Golden Globe, can you believe it?) will most likely take home an award for The People v. O.J. Simpson, and it would be an affront if both Donald Glover and Atlanta didn’t get their due respect. It would be monumental if either Issa Rae or Tracee Ellis-Ross take home the Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, since the last time a black woman won in that TV category was in 1983, when Debbie Allen won a Golden Globe for her performance in Fame. And even though Game of Thrones is highly regarded by many, it’s been around for six full seasons at this point, so don’t be surprised if a newcomer you figured was on the back burner takes home the Globe for Best Drama Series (looking at you, Stranger Things). The spectator sport isn't only what's happening at those tables when the wine flows; there's unexpected delight in those envelopes, too.
Watch video interviews with the 2017 Golden Globes nominees here: