TV Eye: Square Peg in a Globe-Sized Hole

Decoding the Golden Globe noms

Comedy? Drama? Dramedy? Maybe it's time to rethink the way we think about hard-to-categorize shows like <i>Nurse Jackie</i>.
Comedy? Drama? Dramedy? Maybe it's time to rethink the way we think about hard-to-categorize shows like Nurse Jackie.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association recently announced their nominations for TV excellence for the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards. There is always a bit of grumbling over the Golden Globes. The idea that a comparatively small group of foreign journalists has an opinion about U.S.-made TV (and film) is usually the first thing detractors reach for when the nominations annoy them. Yet, this year's Golden Globe TV nominations seem to have inspired a louder than normal outcry. Well, for as curious as the Globes' TV nominations are, I think they speak to something the naysayers are overlooking: that the TV-viewing – or shall we say, the "media-viewing" – audience is much more splintered and niche-oriented than ever before. Could it be that the notion that any one awards show could be the standard for declaring excellence has become as archaic an idea as "appointment TV"?

Consider these Globe nominations for Best Television Series – Drama: Boardwalk Empire (HBO), Dexter (Showtime), The Good Wife (CBS), Mad Men (AMC), and The Walking Dead (AMC).

This lineup serves as an almost perfect snapshot of the current TV landscape: wildly divergent in style and content, with something to appeal to the more mature palate (Mad Men) as well as the presumably younger, trendier viewer (The Walking Dead). There's only one network TV series nominated here. The Good Wife is good, but it just doesn't have the oomph of the other series in its category. And I'm shocked that The Walking Dead is included here – not because it doesn't deserve to be but because the sci-fi/horror genre is typically overlooked by all awards programs.

Interestingly, the robustness of network shows compared to cable TV series is flipped in the comedy category: 30 Rock (NBC), Modern Family (ABC), The Big Bang Theory (CBS), Glee (Fox), The Big C (Showtime), and Nurse Jackie (Showtime).

Now, I've complained about this before, but I believe it bears repeating: The old categories of "drama" and "comedy" don't sufficiently cover the TV landscape. Case in point: The Big C, Nurse Jackie, and United States of Tara – which all air on Showtime – are not straight dramas, but they're not comedies either. Categories for "dramedy" and sci-fi/horror – and, hey, while we're at it, animated series – should be created. And I'm not sure which way I fall on this, but I'm beginning to think that having separate categories for commercial and commercial-free TV might be in order. The need for breaks to accommodate commercials seems to have a distinct effect on dramas, more so than for comedies. Note the heavy appearance of cable series vs. broadcast series in the drama and comedy categories above. Hey, I'm just throwing it out there. Discuss among yourselves.

The nominees for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama are straight from the Emmy playbook: Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Hugh Laurie (House), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), and Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad).

My choice is Jon Hamm, but I would have included either Timothy Olyphant from Justified (FX) or Idris Elba from Luther (BBC America) over Hugh Laurie – the only nominee from a broadcast network series.

That cable over broadcast tilt occurs again among the nominees for best actress in a TV drama: Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), Piper Perabo (Covert Affairs), Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy), and Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer). And it flips back again in the category for best actor in a TV comedy: Alec Baldwin (30 Rock), Steve Carell (The Office), Thomas Jane (Hung), Matthew Morrison (Glee), and Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory).

The aforementioned "dramedy" question rears up among the nominees for best actress in a TV comedy: Toni Collette (United States of Tara), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Laura Linney (The Big C), Tina Fey (30 Rock), and Lea Michele (Glee).

The 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards airs live Jan. 16, 2011, on NBC.

As always, stay tuned.

E-mail Belinda Acosta at tveye@austinchronicle.com.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Golden Globes, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Dexter, Mad Men, Nurse Jackie, Glee, Boardwalk Empire, United States of Tara, 30 Rock, Modern Family, Breaking Bad, The Big C, Justified, House, The Good Wife

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