The Golden Globes Made A Huge Mistake Ignoring Watchmen

08 January 2020
Culture, Film, Watchmen, Golden Globes, Awards, HBO
Image: Home Box Office (HBO)

No awards show can heap praise on everything. But ignoring the biggest new HBO show since Big Little Lies - and a critically lauded one - in Watchmen might come back to bite them

Every time HBO finishes its 'Big Show Of The Moment', you’d be allowed to think everything else they do has absolutely no chance of providing the majesty of its big hitter: after all, what was ever going to compare to The Sopranos, or even S*x and the City? Sometimes you just need a break from the discourse, and after Game Of Thrones came to an end it seems cable viewers - and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association - decided HBO had had enough of their attention for the moment.

That really is the only justification for why three of HBO’s biggest shows of 2019 - the second season of Succession and the first of Euphoria, or Watchmen - have been either ignored, or nominated in very odd ways. Yes, Chernobyl and Big Little Lies got some love, and Game of Thrones (deservedly) only got one nod, so it’s not all injustice. But neither of these oversights really make any sense at all.

Succession hasn’t been snubbed, per se, but it has received nominations in categories people didn’t expect: one for Kieran Culkin in Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television and then another for Brian Cox in Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series – Drama. Ignoring entirely that these are effectively the same category now that most shows produce 10 episode seasons (so much so Tobias Menzies got nominated for the same performance in both) viewers are confused as to why Jeremy Strong and Sarah Snook’s dynamite lead performances were paid dust at such a crucial juncture. However, let’s not suggest that this show has been too maligned: it did get nominated for Best TV Show - Drama. Issa Rae’s phenomenal (and much more diverse) show Insecure didn’t get a single look-in.

The far greater failure of the HFPA this year is the complete absence of Watchmen. It makes no real sense by any metric: it’s not only a critical darling (96% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, if you please) but with an average of 7.1 million viewers across its first seven episodes. This not only makes it the most popular cable show of the year, but the most successful new HBO series since Big Little Lies.

Why, then, was it ignored? One case would be that all the heavy hitting provenance of the thing might actually have worked against it. Damon Lindelof’s shows have never been much loved by the Golden Globes: Lost only won one in 2006 (and was only nominated once after 2007: in 2010, the year the show ended.) The Leftovers, Lindelof’s last opus and one that received almost universal acclaim, was never nominated. The show’s source material - a graphic novel, even one that transcends the traditional binary of written or illustrated fiction - also might be working against it: it’s long been known that awards bodies seem oddly opposed to the Marvelization of modern culture, even though Watchmen is, in many ways, deeply antithetical to that (and not just because it was published by DC.)

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But then it’s worth noting many of the other shows ignored this year: Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us, which earned 16 Emmy nominations last year, was completely ignored: including Emmy winner Jharrel Jerome. Another show that people expected to see lauded come Jan 6th? Euphoria, especially star Zendaya, which didn’t get a single look in.

Why were these shows ignored entirely? It’s hard to say: other shows were ignored, shows with less diverse cast, though in the case of The Handmaid’s Tale or Game of Thrones it could be because they’ve slipped out of the zeitgeist or simply dived in quality. Other shows with diverse subjects, like Pose, were largely slighted: the show’s many trans leads were snubbed, while Billy Porter was nominated, though this might be because the scripts of season 2 were shaky at best. In its place there are nominations for The Politician, another Ryan Murphy show, with a more acerbic approach to wokeness with a cast loaded with representation. But nobody can accuse Euphoria, When They See Us or Watchmen - all fresh meat and all receiving rave reviews, of not capturing the zeitgeist, earning their keep or not getting enough eyeballs on them.

Could it be because the shows, stories that rub a viewer’s face into the grimy puddle of historical racism or modern adolescence, simply didn’t appeal to the jury choosing the nominees? Potentially. We weren’t in the room where it happened, so we can only pontificate as to the reasoning for these shows being ignored.

What we can say, however, is that it’s hard to imagine how the Golden Globes are going to maintain a reputation as kingmakers of TV and film. Not only have they snubbed two very worthy female directors in the film category - Greta Gerwig for Little Women and Lorene Scafaria for Hustlers - but they’ve also produced a series of TV nominations that feel like a retreading of last year’s Emmys, with concessions made to shows like Catch-22 and Unbelievable - both great shows - than some other, equally vital tales. When Watchmen finally gets its dues later in 2020, and nobody who has watched it can deny it will, the Golden Globes are going to look like they’re chasing their tails to celebrate the talent both audiences and critics spotted much, much earlier.


Via British GQ