Aimless Prognosticating: Predicting the Television Golden Globe Awards: Series Categories

I feel like I probably know the answer to the primary question of this post. We all know that the Golden Globe Awards are a crock, especially when in reference to television. I originally wanted to write a post discussing whether or not it was worthwhile to even predict the outcome of the Golden Globe Awards’ television side, but then realized that would basically be a 250-word column featuring me saying “not really” in various ways. Critics and scholars complain a lot about the Emmys, but at least they follow a certain kind of logic and structure and outside of the HFPA’s love for sexy women, the Globes don’t work inside any sort of framework.

The Globes happen in the middle of the official television season (as opposed to the Emmy’s clearer position at the beginning of a new season with a reflection on the past one) and for the most part, the Globes do a bit of zeitgeist chasing. Glee was a big winner last year, as was Dexter in its most-talked about season right as Michael C. Hall’s cancer issues came about. I’m not saying the HFPA just picked Hall because he had cancer and it thus made a good story to run the next morning, but I really wouldn’t put it past them. Hall definitely deserves some praise for his work on Dexter, but I think you understand what I’m saying. When the Golden Globes nominated Piper Perabo for her work on Covert Affairs I think they did all the work for me in terms of explaining their logic and process, but if I were to distill it into bullet points it would probably be something like this:

  • Attractive women = good choices
  • Popular things, sexy things = good choices
  • Things on cable, especially pay cable = good choices

That’s basically it. Those are the three criteria I am using to determine my “picks” for Sunday’s Golden Globes. I am not expecting to be correct with most of these and in fact if I end up being mostly correct, there’s probably something wrong with the HFPA. That means they’ve gotten complacent or listened to reason or something, which is unfortunate.

So far, I’ve tackled the two supporting categories and the four lead categories. Today, I’m finishing off my highly educated predictions with the two series categories.

Best Television Series — Musical or Comedy

  • 30 Rock
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • The Big C
  • Glee
  • Modern Family
  • Nurse Jackie

The background: This category has been something of a mess over the past 10 years. There have been a few repeat winners, some really deserving winners and in some cases, just some random choices that aren’t overwhelmingly offensive to my sensibilities. Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives both repeated in 00-01 and 04-05, but this category has also brought us victories for the UK Office, Extras and Curb Your Enthusiasm. There seems to be some slight zeitgeist chasing, but not a whole lot. 30 Rock has only one this award one time (2008) and Glee walked away with it last year. This is something of turn of the corner for the category, as The Office and Entourage are missing for the first time a while and only Modern Family, Glee and 30 Rock return from last year’s race. That suggests the voters have actually been paying attention a little bit with the three newcomers. But of course, the nominations for the two Showtime series also suggests that the cable network is throwing its weight around a little bit. Interestingly, over the past 10 years there hasn’t been a straight-up sitcom winner in this category, which doesn’t bode well for Modern Family or The Big Bang Theory. Series with obvious female leads have taken home a victory in this category six times between 2000 and 2010 so it’s really no surprise that things like The Big C and Nurse Jackie join the race.

Other factors: The big question with this category is what kind of trends hold. I’ve talked a lot about Showtime programming and already voiced my opinion that Laura Linney will probably win. This means good things for The Big C. I could totally see that series picking up a lot of steam here. High profile, generally attractive lead actress, meaty part, on Showtime and the series itself is new. Makes a lot of sense. However, there’s definitely a case to be made for Glee, which won this category last year and has been even more (commercially) successful in the last year. Finally, I know the HFPA are not the Emmy voters, but the latter gave Modern Family a lot of dap and it’s continued to pick up steam as well.

The frontrunner: I actually think it’s The Big C. I think all those things I mentioned in the previous paragraph are going to hold true. Linney most certainly wins and I think the factors (Showtime, storyline, newness) help the series topple Glee and Modern Family.

Right there: Obviously, Glee and Modern Family. The trends I mentioned could swing their way just as easy, but the lack of constant repeating winners keeps from picking the former and love for the sitcom hurts the chances of the latter.

Concluding ramblings: It seems like it’s past 30 Rock‘s time to really win a lot of awards like this and for a number of reasons, it’s not really the kind of series that plays to the HFPA’s sensibilities. Big Bang and Nurse Jackie are the new Office and Entourage — nominated, but never any real chance to win.

Best Television Series — Drama

  • Boardwalk Empire
  • Mad Men
  • The Walking Dead
  • The Good Wife
  • Dexter

The background: This is a really compelling category. It will be interesting to see if the HFPA voters let themselves get swept up in the hype and buzz surrounding the totally overrated Walking Dead or continue to submit their love to Mad Men, which has won this award three years in a row. Oddly, when The Sopranos was around, the voters gave it the victory for the first season (1999) and then continued to ignore it for newer, flashier programs — 24, The Shield, Nip Mother-freaking Tuck — throughout the rest of the run. But with Men, that hasn’t been the case, mostly because the voters have picked generally terrible nominees for the AMC series to go up against (what’s up, True Blood, The Tudors, Grey’s Anatomy). This year things are bit more recognizable and respectable with the inclusion of Boardwalk Empire and The Good Wife but who really knows if those two can top Men. The voters obviously respect Matthew Weiner’s series, but they definitely like the shiny new toy as well. They gave the victory to Grey’s, Lost and Nip/Tuck during their most high-profile or first seasons, which means good things for Dead and probably Boardwalk Empire. Finally, there’s a mix of broadcast and cable winners, so there isn’t a clear advantage in that department.

Other factors: Boredom. The HFPA have never given a series a win in this category four times, let alone four times in a row. Fun fact: The only other series to win this award three times? The X-Files. That’s just odd. Anyway, it seems like at a certain point the HFPA would get bored and give the win to another series. They’re crazy like that. It’s actually wild that they’ve respected Mad Men this much to give it so much time in the winner’s circle. This is especially true with a few really buzzy series on its tail. And just like in the Musical or Comedy category, this could be about full-night trends. If there’s a lot of love for Boardwalk, I wouldn’t be shocked at all, same goes for The Good Wife. The HFPA certainly love females, so it’s possible that Margulies and her series both walk away with their respective categories.

The frontrunner: It’s really, really hard to pick against Mad Men, it’s clearly the best series of the group. That’s not the question. And obviously, Walking Dead is right there waiting in the wings, looking snazzy, loud and well, obvious. And part of me also thinks that everyone will assume that the voters will push for Dead and then they’ll somehow surprise us with a Boardwalk or even more possible, a Good Wife victory. I am struggling to pick this, so I’m just going with my gut: Mad Men. It’s appealing to the voters and had a freaking glorious season — not that all the voters watched anyway.

Right there: Honestly, everyone but Dexter is in play for this one. Because The Sopranos never did so well, I can’t say the HFPA know or care about Terence Winter, but they do know Marty. So I think that puts Boardwalk Empire in the conversation. And unfortunately, The Walking Dead will probably win this damn thing anyway.

Concluding ramblings: I’m pulling for The Good Wife here and it certainly has a chance, but there might be too many shiny new toys that keep it from swaying any of the voters. Dexter is the eternal bridesmaid in this category, having been been nominated for three straight years with no success. If it didn’t win last year on the big night where Michael C. Hall and John Lithgow won for their performances, it’s not winning this year.

That’s it folks! Come back on Monday and we can laugh at my stupidity.

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