Some may watch awards shows like the Golden Globes for the memes, the cute couples, and the fun moments where beloved dame Patricia Clarkson kisses Bradley Cooper for a mysterious reason. But, others sit through three-plus hours of Hollywood pageantry to figure out where the soul of showbiz presides at the moment. A parade of awards should be the best way to get to the bottom of that question.
When you look at the TV winners at the 2019 Globes, however, it’s initially difficult to understand what the hell is going on with pop culture's reigning medium. After all, The Kominsky Method, American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, Killing Eve, and Bodyguard don’t exactly seem to have a lot in common. However, a pattern has emerged: The 2019 Golden Globes were the year of the post-woke win.
In the wake of #MeToo becoming a trending topic and A-listers forming Time’s Up, the 2018 Golden Globes followed an obvious — and welcome — woke narrative. Woman-powered The Handmaid’s Tale and Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won both major television categories. Big Little Lies then dominated the night, with even the Best Supporting Actor For A Drama category winner hailing from the twisty feminist series.
Even over in the movie categories, women-led films won the night. Drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (the year's Best Screenplay winner) and comedy Lady Bird took home their genres’ respective biggest honors, while Guillermo del Toro won Best Director for his Sally Hawkins-starring Shape Of Water.
At a time when Hollywood was finally coming to reckoning over its treatment of women, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which presents the Globes, clearly wanted to do its small part in finally recognizing at least a fraction of their stories. Between the fashion blackout, the Time’s Up accessory parade on the carpet and the powerful display of feminist wins inside, the Golden Globes and its voting body were able to boast a frictionless feminist stance for 2018. Even the Best Actor TV winners at the time (Sterling K. Brown and Aziz Ansari especially) were beloved woke baes who used their fame to support women. Ansari’s Babe Dot Net “exposé” wouldn’t break for another week.
Then, the 2019 Golden Globes came along. While host Andy Samberg wore a Time’s Up Times 2 wristband during his red carpet appearance, and Best Supporting Actress In A Movie winner Regina King brought up the movement in the evening’s biggest speech, Hollywood was mostly quiet on anything #MeToo-related. Samberg’s red carpet interviews weren’t dominated by questions about allyship, and King accepted her award in a “rosé pink” gown, as she joked to Ryan Seacrest, rather than a 2018 blackout-approved funeral shade.
Seacrest himself was accused of misconduct in the wake of #MeToo, and fiercely denied the allegations. No stars during the 2019 E! Red Carpet special breathed a word about the controversy, and the host even sported a Time's Up bracelet.
The wins during the Globes, King included, came off as similarly apolitical. Without a theme to tie all the evening together — or, even a specific major breakout hit in the television realm — each triumph came off as an earnest, agenda-free opinion from the HFPA.
Yes, three winners dealt with queer issues and homophobia (two-time limited series winner ACS: The Assassination Of Gianni Versace and Ben Whishaw’s tortured supporting performance in A Very English Scandal), but they were also complete Golden Globes bait. The HFPA loves heaping praise on a brand-new Ryan Murphy offering and a buzzy, madcap Amazon Prime series, respectively. Those successes weren’t merely about making waves about gay rights. And yes, Netflix’s The Kominsky Method may push back against ageism in Hollywood, but the comedy’s star and eventual Best Actor In A Comedy winner Michael Douglas is also one of the Globes’ top darlings. Douglas already has a Cecil B. Demille Award — he’s the HFPA’s guy, no matter what subject matter he tackles.
To really see how comfortable the Globes were to award precisely what they liked, no fear of wokeness in sight, look at who went home with the Best Actor In A Drama series statue: Richard Madden. Although the dashing Bodyguard star may be a leading personal favorite, he’s also a straight white man with conventionally handsome looks (hence, the months-long James Bond rumors). Currently, there are few headlines claiming any of his competitors, like queer Black Pose performer Billy Porter or young Black actor and movie star in the making Stephan James, were snubbed. Porter has simply been dubbed the “winner” of the Globes after parties and James is fairly (criminally) coverage-free. In previous years, this awards decision would be a controversy, not a shrug.
In that same vein, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel's Rachel Brosnahan won the Best Actress In A Comedy award in an all-white category devoid of publicly queer women. It was Brosnahan's second year in a row to take the prize for being a non-Jewish woman playing a Jewish character.
At least Killing Eve star and Globes host Sandra Oh marked on of the most classically woke wins of the evening. With her Best Actress In A Drama win, the Grey’s Anatomy alum is now the first Asian woman in almost 50 years take home the statue (Shogun’s Yoko Shimada was the first in 1980). Oh is also now the first woman of Asian descent to ever win multiple Golden Globes — all because she took a leading role she didn’t even originally conceive she could be considered for.
However, considering how the HFPA voted across the board, it doesn’t seem like they had those facts in mind when decided to give Sandra Oh her award. Instead, she simply deserved it — and that’s all that mattered.
This article has been updated to reflect that Rachel Brosnahan is not Jewish, but plays a Jewish character on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.