One commonly assumes that movies and television shows that win industry awards are therefore the best movies and television shows, the apex of artistic achievement. With the new year approaching, the awards buzz starts again. The unveiling of this year's Golden Globe nominations underscores that in some instances the "best" are being saluted. In others, Hollywood is celebrating its own sense of enlightened outrageousness.
In one sense, the Golden Globe Awards are a bit of a (bad) joke. How many people know the Golden Globes are a tiny operation run by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which consists of only 83 voting members, all heavily lobbied by studio brass? It's better to think of the nomination process not as a measurement of art but as the Hollywood equivalent of a high-school popularity contest. And just like high school, the trendy, naughty stuff that shows a little skin and talks with a little titillation is more likely to prevail in any judgment of "art."
For TV, the drama-series picks were Fox's "24," ABC's "Lost," FX's "Nip/Tuck," and HBO's "The Sopranos" and "Deadwood." If this is the very "best" in television, the Golden Globes underscore the miserable condition of the entertainment industry today.
Hollywood judging panels always bow and scrape toward HBO, hailed as the courageous envelope-shredding pioneer of pay cable, even as "The Sopranos" vanishes and the dark, depressing Western drama "Deadwood" features a "realistic" though perfunctory f-word every 30 seconds. At least those shows have some production values and some vague sense of good and evil. You cannot say that "Nip/Tuck" has either of these. In fact, you can never say too much about how ridiculously offensive it is. Its long-running subplot about the female "life coach" sleeping with the 14-year-old boy (and her own teenage son, too) culminates with the revelation that "she" was really a transsexual. It's this kind of plotting genius that is so appealing to the Golden Globes crowd.
The comedy nominees were Fox's "Arrested Development," ABC's "Desperate Housewives," NBC's "Will & Grace," and HBO's "Sex and the City" and "Entourage." Once again, these nominees all share one thing in common: They are also dark and disturbing, even when the humor is attached.