Look, the most generous-to-neutral observation that I can make about these nominations is that there are an awful lot of nominees whose names start with C. The category for Best Actress in a Drama includes Colman, Comer, and Corrin.
You know who it doesn’t have?
Yeah, I know that’s not her category. That’s not the point. Michaela Coel and I May Destroy You were, for many people, the undeniable revelation of the year. The surprise compelling binge that kept upending us; created by, written by, and in some episodes, directed by Michaela Coel – but all of which was brought to life by the compelling performance of …Michaela Coel.
And she got nothing.
In a year when we have been at home, captive audiences, more prone than ever to watch things we might otherwise not have seen, that are new, that surprise us… this!?
Do I need to spell it out? I know I don’t. I know you know. But we have to actually talk about what we’re talking about.
No Michaela Coel, and no I May Destroy You. We could almost end the piece right there. But I won’t. Instead, no acting nominations for Lovecraft Country – not Jurnee Smollett or Jonathan Majors – even though it was nominated for Best TV Drama? Okay, sure. No Insecure – no Issa Rae, no Yvonne Orji. No Janelle Monae or Stephan James or Hong Chau for Homecoming.
And even though we’re starting to have a mountain of damning evidence for who isn’t being nominated – specifically, people of colour, specifically, any women who are not white – even if you’re one of those people who wants to make the argument that these aren’t ‘known’ performers or shows and that’s the excuse, that they’re for younger people or that ‘the olds’ don’t know them … how do you explain no Chris Rock for Fargo? It was an imbalanced season, but you can’t argue that Chris Rock and Fargo don’t both have 100% name recognition.
Cover up the names of the projects, for example, in the Actor in a Limited Series category, and you’re left with the actors’ names: Bryan Cranston. Mark Ruffalo. Ethan Hawke. Hugh Grant. Jeff Daniels. Is it 2004?!?
Even if you look at the Golden Globes from a really craven, mercenary position, assuming that they nominate not those who are most deserving, performance-wise, but those they consider to be the prettiest, shiniest people and biggest stars, in their own estimation – how do you overlook Zoe Kravitz for High Fidelity (RIP)? Or Rosie Perez for The Flight Attendant? Honestly.
When there are reactions like this, people start getting defensive, all “Well who would you cut? Huh? Huh?” I’m not saying the nominees didn’t give great performances, on a case-by-case basis, though we all know there are some nominations for shows that have been in rapid decline or performances that haven’t done anything new in several seasons.
And of course, the constant refrain – I’m not trying to take away from the nominations that people love and appreciate. I know the joy and heart of Schitt’s Creek and Ted Lasso got tons and tons of people through rough moments in quarantine, I can’t argue with any nominations for The Crown, and I absolutely count The Queen’s Gambit as one of my winter high points. But those performances deserve to be recognized among the best in their cohorts, and there are such notable omissions that it feels like there’s a finger on the scale, which isn’t needed!
Look, though – real talk?
This keeps on happening. I’m sure I have written very similar pieces several years in a row. With every passing season, it’s more apparent that these awards don’t reflect what we’re actually watching, what actually matters to so many of us or the shows that make us feel seen. At this point, I have to say, it’s on us for hoping they’ll validate what we love. We have to stop seeing them as the only verdict on television value.
Which brings us back to Stephan James and Shamier Anderson who are way ahead of the curve. Let’s hope they’re about to start a revolution, because it’s past time.