Hollywood Awards Season Kicks Off With Golden Globes

Jan 6, 2020
Originally published on January 6, 2020 4:53 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Ricky Gervais promised to skewer Hollywood's hypocrisy as host of last night's Golden Globes. He followed through with this warning to winners about preachy acceptance speeches.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RICKY GERVAIS: You're in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.

SHAPIRO: NPR TV critic Eric Deggans was watching, and he's here to talk about last night's show and what the winners in the TV categories might tell us about where television is heading.

Hi, Eric.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Hey.

SHAPIRO: Let's take a moment with the host. This was the fifth time Gervais has hosted, and he's known for cracking pretty harsh jokes about the industry. How'd he do last night?

DEGGANS: Well, I think there's a fine line between being the insightful, observant guy who says, you know, let's laugh at how hypocritical all this is, and being a cranky guy in the corner who's just cracking mean jokes.

SHAPIRO: Right.

DEGGANS: And I think Gervais crossed a line last night. He had some tough, you know, jokes about actors claiming to be woke while they work for these corporations that have some ethical questions. But many more jokes just seemed kind of pointlessly mean, and I think it made for an awkward start to an awkward award ceremony. And, you know, at a time when so much in the world is so serious, it's weird that an awards show that's supposed to be, like, the silliest thing in Hollywood couldn't be more fun.

SHAPIRO: Well, you know, one of the reasons that people pay attention to the Golden Globes is that, at least for movies, they may be a predictor of the Oscars.

DEGGANS: True.

SHAPIRO: What about on the TV side? I mean, you're our TV critic. Do wins at the Golden Globes actually make a difference in the TV industry?

DEGGANS: Well, you know, on TV, I used to think that the Globes were better at picking cool shows in their nominations. But, you know, this year, they did pretty good. They named Amazon's "Fleabag" as best comedy, HBO's "Succession" as best drama and another HBO show, "Chernobyl," as best limited series. And all those shows were on a lot of critics' best-of lists, including mine.

You know, the awards are voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. These are journalists who cover entertainment for news outlets that are outside the U.S. And they have very specific tastes that can be different than the industry. So it's a little like seeing Iowa kick off voting in the presidential primaries, you know?

SHAPIRO: Are the Golden Globe voters all white?

(LAUGHTER)

DEGGANS: Well, no, but they have very particular tastes. And sometimes, you know, when the people who are voting have different tastes than the whole country, sometimes it's tough to see how what they're going to pick is going to look like in the wider world.

SHAPIRO: Was there anything among the winners last night that really raised your eyebrows and you think might hint at the future of TV?

DEGGANS: Yeah. I think one of the things that the Globes have done well is highlight rising TV stars early. And so they gave an award for best actor in a comedy to Ramy Youssef, star of Hulu's "Ramy," beating out big names like Michael Douglas and Bill Hader. It kind of felt like that. You know, even as we talk about possible war with Iran, to have a son of Egyptian parents and an observant Muslim accept the first award was a really powerful and unexpected moment. So we've got a little bit of his acceptance speech. Let's check it out.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RAMY YOUSSEF: Well, yes, I would like to thank my God - Allahu akbar. Look; I know you guys haven't seen my show. It's...

(LAUGHTER)

DEGGANS: Yeah, I think even Ramy was surprised that he won.

SHAPIRO: Wow. Well, beyond him, the Globes, in the past, have been accused of lacking diversity. How'd they do this year?

DEGGANS: Well, a lot of great performances weren't nominated - Ava DuVernay's "When They See Us," for example. But the Hollywood Foreign Press tends to favor people that are rooted performers that are rooted outside the U.S. So we saw British actors like Brian Cox and Olivia Colman won for best actor and actress in a drama. Besides a lack of diversity, you know, unless you count different British accents as diversity, I can't really quibble with the TV awards.

SHAPIRO: OK.

DEGGANS: But when there's so much disruption in the industry, I just wanted to see something a little more innovative and creative in the winners.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Eric Deggans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.