- “The Bodyguard” had some fine performances, but its tone-deaf Islamophobia is way over the top.
- “Dirty John” didn’t show Connie Britton at her best.
- Nominating “The Alienist” could perhaps be a make-up nomination for snubbing far superior serial killer series “Mindhunter” in 2017.
- Multiple nominations for outstanding actors in the same series – when it’s deserved – should absolutely be a thing.
The Golden Globe nominations always pack a few surprises, either in what’s nominated or what isn’t. Of particular frustration is always a show or movie with a strong ensemble cast: How do you nominate only one actor or actress when they’re all fantastic?
Here are some of the TV, limited series, and “motion picture made for television” nominations that left us with questions.
BBC drama “Bodyguard” made a big splash on Netflix, but it promotes some extremely harmful Islamophobic stereotypes.
- BBC One
Many felt that the portrayal of Muslim women as terrorists, victims, or both is cliched, exhausting, and maybe even dangerous in our current cultural climate. For that reason alone, “The Bodyguard” doesn’t need to be celebrated.
“I am exhausted by how Muslim women are continually misrepresented like this in the media. As a victim of an Islamophobic verbal attack after the 9/11 terrorist attack, I don’t appreciate depictions that can fuel Islamophobia,” Tasnim Nazeer wrote in the Guardian. “There are many communities in Britain that may not have had much interaction with Muslims, or only ever hear or see Muslims on TV. I believe the media needs to be accountable in some way for the content they produce, especially when levels of anti-Muslim hate crime are soaring. Instead, we need more powerful narratives and stories that bring about a better understanding of Muslims.”
Speaking of which, if you’re ever wondering if a piece of media you’re watching is promoting harmful Muslim stereotypes, check it against the Riz Test, which is based on a powerful speech given by Riz Ahmed in 2017 in the UK House of Commons.
Jason Bateman in “Ozark” did a perfectly acceptable job, but it’s not exactly a standout performance.
The single actor from “Ozark” who most deserved a nom and didn’t get it is Julia Garner. Watching her character Ruth Langmore evolve over the course of the series has been an absolute revelation.
Part of that is down to writing, but Bateman just didn’t measure up. In fact, many felt that way, as the second season was plagued with mixed reviews.
Debra Messing got yet another nomination for the reboot of “Will and Grace,” but it’s just cruel to nominate the show again if they aren’t going to ever win.
Both Messing and the show have now been nominated 30 separate times for Golden Globes and have yet to win a single one. Debra Messing even told the LA Times that she slept in for the nominations because she didn’t expect to get nominated this year.
With the weight of all that in mind, the competition in the best actress in a musical or comedy category is fierce. Kristen Bell, Alison Brie, and Rachel Brosnahan are all considerable competition for Messing. It seems pointless to keep stringing her along unless she’ll finally clinch the win.
“Dirty John” didn’t do Connie Britton any favors.
Britton is highly watchable and relatable in almost every role in which she’s cast, but for anyone who is familiar with the true story behind “Dirty John” – as originally told in podcast form – it feels like her depiction of Debra Newell is far less important to the story, even though in real life, she’s its main victim.
That may not be Britton’s fault since the script and direction have a lot to do with it, as well. It’s just unfortunately not the best we’ve seen her.
“Britton and her talented co-stars are wasted here on a warmed-over Lifetime movie masquerading as a prestige TV miniseries – one that’s, sadly, not even trashy enough to qualify as a guilty pleasure,” Dave Nemetz wrote for TVLine.
Sacha Baron Cohen in “Who Is America?” wasn’t living up to his own best past performances, let alone those of the other actors nominated.
The best actor in a musical or comedy category is another strong one, and Jim Carrey, Michael Douglas, Donald Glover, and Bill Hader all brought some of their best work to the table.
Not so with Cohen, whose series and performance didn’t impress.
“This is where ‘Who Is America’ falls apart, week after week. Where ‘Da Ali G Show’ focused on television’s unique ability to enable our worst impulses and ‘Borat’ was about the underlying horrors of American hospitality, ‘Who Is America’ sometimes feels like a scattershot riff on reality television that Cohen half-sketched out in 2005 and then forgot about until a few months ago,” Todd VanDerWerff wrote for Vox.
The “Murphy Brown” reboot has been uneven, and it’s clear that Candice Bergen is trying, but nothing about the show is in the same league as other nominees in the category.
- David Giesbrecht/Warner Bros.
The “Murphy Brown” reboot has had a tough reception, with many calling it “preachy” and with others asking why it needed to be rebooted in the first place. In fact, the show has already been canceled.
“If you suddenly feel very, very tired, you are not alone,” Kristen Baldwin wrote in Entertainment Weekly. “While Murphy Brown always mined political headlines for its humor, the show – much like Murphy herself – needs to adjust to our new world, a place where everyone is angry and every screen we own serves up a steady stream of hot (often hateful) takes.”
Bergen’s performance is clearly outshone by everyone else nominated in the category of best actress in a comedy, as well as a deserving few who were snubbed.
Maybe nominating “The Alienist” is supposed to make up for snubbing “Mindhunter” last year.
- Kata Vermes/Turner Entertainment Networks, Inc.
As anyone invested in pop culture has no doubt seen before, just because you love the book doesn’t mean the TV or film adaptation will live up to your expectations. Everything else in this category is fairly strong – “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” “Escape at Dannemora,” “A Very English Scandal,” and especially “Sharp Objects” all came out swinging and make all the sense in the world as nominations.
“Last year, Netflix’s ‘Mindhunter’ drew audiences back to the mid-’70s early days of criminal psychology and profiling; TNT’s ‘The Alienist’ does the same, but journeys back quite a bit further, to 1893,” Allison Shoemaker wrote for Roger Ebert. “Those seeking a gorgeous, gothic costume drama will find it here. So will those hungering for a pulpy, bloody mystery or two. But if you’re in search of a nuanced exploration of violent minds, and of the minds belonging those who study them, you may be slightly disappointed. In the two episodes provided to critics, at least, “The Alienist” spends more time telling you what’s going on beneath the surface than allowing for any real depth to emerge. Here, subtext matters little. Wait long enough, and they’ll spell it all out for you in great big bloody letters.
Good serial killer dramas have been captivating audiences since long before the phrase was first coined, but “The Alienist” was uneven at best.
Laura Dern should absolutely have been nominated for “The Tale,” but so should Isabelle Nélisse.
- HBO Films
Perhaps that’s the trouble with visual works that are so strong and feature such an outstanding cast – it’s exceedingly difficult to narrow it down to just one performance that makes something work.
“The Tale” is unflinching and incredibly disturbing. While Dern deserves every ounce of acclaim she gets, this movie absolutely wouldn’t have worked without Nélisse’s portrayal of a younger, infinitely more vulnerable version of Jennifer, the same character played by Dern as an adult.
Dern’s nomination seems wrong without Nélisse’s.
Where is Clare-Hope Ashitey?
- JoJo Whilden / Netflix
Since Veena Sud’s brilliant – and extremely timely – series won’t be continuing, it’s incredibly unfortunate that this nuanced and powerful performance from Ashitey hasn’t been recognized when considering contenders for best performance by an actress in a limited series or motion picture made for television.
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