The 76th Golden Globes: Are awards shows the same as they used to be?
Bethany Montgomery, Editor-in-chief
On Jan. 6, 2019, television viewers watched for their favorite nominated actors, actresses, and films from the past year to receive a coveted prize at the 76th Golden Globes. Over 1,300 guests are said to have attended the ceremony to celebrate the winners and nominees in film and television as chosen by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
Though the night produced a few expected wins, like best motion picture for the Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and best actor Rami Malek for his portrayal of the late singer, there were some movie fans wondering why notable films like “A Star is Born” featuring Bradley Cooper and pop icon Lady Gaga did not receive more recognition. Other notable wins included Christian Bale’s acting in the Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” which had six nominations total, “Green Book” for best motion picture, and a second win for best lead actress in a musical or comedy series to Rachel Brosnahan for her hit Amazon series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” The first ever lifetime achievement in television award went to TV host legend Carol Burnett, an award now officially named after its beloved recipient.
As for the hosts, The Golden Globes chose TV favorite Andy Samberg, known for his involvement with “SNL” (Saturday Night Live) and hit show “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” and Sandra Oh, known for her movie and television career starring in shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Killing Eve.” It is not uncommon or surprising that any host is heavily analyzed, as seen with the recent conflict regarding former Oscar host Kevin Hart. But the choice for these two hosts seemed to be beyond well-received by the public. According to Variety, Samberg was an unexpected choice for some but not out of place due to his involvement with award shows in the past, and his comedy career on television the past decade. Dan Goor, executive producer of Samberg’s hit show “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” spoke of his admiration of the actor. “Andy is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. He is so committed to comedy,” said Goor. “You couldn’t do better than having Andy do anything. The only thing I wouldn’t have him do is operate on my child. And even then, I might.” Samberg and Oh’s friendship and chemistry on stage made the duo the perfect comedic hosts for the event, delivering some memorable jokes and recognizing a few noteworthy achievements, with Oh herself winning a Globe for her BBC show “Killing Eve.”
The Globes captured the attention of 18.6 million viewers according to Statista, down from the 19 million in 2018 and from 20 million in 2017. The Oscars has also seen a dramatic drop in their viewership numbers in recent years, causing critics to wonder if audiences are tired of the repetitive nature or length of these major award shows, or dissatisfied with the content. With the drama surrounding Hart’s stepping down as Oscar host, many are left wondering if Hollywood’s low viewer count on these major award shows is due to the extreme politicization of these events. While the actors, actresses, and directors may thank whomever they wish during their acceptance speech, they may also seize the opportunity to promote their own political viewpoints, which has been a trend in recent years. Although Oh and Samberg had a more comedic tone to their script, some argue that previous hosts celebrating political movements like the “Time’s Up” movement have undermined the actual awards.
This new platform of free speech has been seen as a blessing for some, but to many viewers of these awards shows, it detracts from the purpose of the event—to celebrate the artistic achievements of Hollywood’s finest. Although these reasons may have little impact on viewership, it is interesting to note that hosts who tend to stay away from these topics also have the most positive responses. As Samberg and Oh themselves said, “We are the only two people left in Hollywood who haven’t gotten in trouble for saying something offensive.” And while we may not know if not having a host with a clean record, or using the opportunity as host to promote any sort of political agenda is more offensive, it will certainly be interesting to see how the viewership numbers and public engagement will be affected.