With the 72nd annual Golden Globes a minute or two over their allotted three-hour run time, Meryl Streep, who is allowed to do whatever she wants, took an extra beat to tell the crowd, “How much are we going to miss Amy and Tina? Oh my god.” Streep was referring to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s promise that this, their third time hosting the Globes, will also be their last. Imagine how much longer next year’s Golden Globes will feel as the hours tick by and there’s no hope that Fey and Poheler will appear in new outfits?
As in years past, Fey and Poehler did a great opening monologue and then took it easy. This is the Globes after all, and one conjures visions of them tippling back champagne and rubbing shoulders with other soused famous people while letting various flares of energy—Wiig and Hader, Tomlin and Fonda, a win for Jane the Virgin, Frances McDormand shooting shade-rays out of her eyes—get us through the three-hour run time. If, by hour two, one misses Tina and Amy desperately, and longs for more than a sporadic sighting of them with Margaret Cho as a North Korean journalist, their “we do it on our terms, and our terms say you get a perfect monologue and then we relax” vibe is what makes them so good in the first place: They never push too hard.
Unlike their predecessor Ricky Gervais, Fey and Poehler always hit the right targets. And the right targets are not primarily the rich and famous people assembled in a display of orgiastic self-praise, but hypocrisy, sexism, and Bill Cosby. Fey and Poehler started by piercing the pieties surrounding The Interview: North Korea’s reaction to the film “Forc[ed] us all to pretend we want to see it.” Then they dropped in some sharp jokes about sexism: “Boyhood proves there are still great roles for women over 40, as long as you get hired when you are under 40”; “It took me three hours to prepare today for my role as human woman”; and, after listing Amal Alamuddin’s many accomplishments: “So tonight her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award.” Then they landed on Bill Cosby. (Jessica Chastain may have been deliciously scandalized, but Fey has been needling Cosby for years.)
Fey and Poehler set up their Cosby joke so that it briefly seemed like the two might have differing opinions about his actions; really, they only differed on how to do an impression of Bill Cosby drugging women. (“I put the pills in the people! The people did not want the pills in them” vs. “I got my pills in my bathrobe and I put them in the people.”) By the anodyne standards of awards show banter, the bit was provocative, but it was also a subject right in Fey and Poehler’s wheelhouse. They had to address it, really, and they did so in a way that was both scathing and funny.
But no matter how good Tina and Amy are, given their annual post-monologue disappearing act, the Golden Globes always eventually turn back into an award-giving event and not a coronation of Tina and Amy as national treasures. On the TV front, this year’s Globes spread the awards around—to everyone who was not a network. Amazon, Showtime, and FX each took home two awards (including the big ones: best comedy, best drama, and best mini-series), while HBO, the CW, PBS, Netflix, and Sundance each got one. ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC got zilch, yet another harbinger of their reduced cachet.
The Hollywood Foreign Press is a notoriously idiosyncratic award-giving body, with a penchant for recognizing the new. This often makes the show more lively and fun than the Emmys, which has a penchant for recognizing what they have recognized before. True to form, this year’s Globes were a bonanza for first-time nominees: Jane The Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez, Transparent, Fargo, and The Affair were the night’s big TV winners. The beguiling and lovely Jane the Virgin could use the attention and the great Transparent deserves all its acclaim. I’m less fond of Fargo, but in the last few months it has successfully established a narrative for itself as the more discerning TV viewer’s True Detective, an alternative to all that macho, Yellow King-related, Reddit-inspiring misdirection.
Fargo also beat out two other excellent HBO offerings, The Normal Heart and Olive Kitteridge, both of which seem like ideal award show fodder, but probably could not compete this year with the buzz around Fargo and True Detective. (The Globes, like Jeremy Renner, fixate on that which is sexy.) As for McDormand’s loss to Maggie Gyllenhaal, whose The Honorable Woman was even bleaker than Olive Kitteridge but did have more international themes, well, I’m sure the members of the HFPA are all now living in fear that they will run into McDormand and she will turn her Olive Kitteridge stare upon them.
And the victories confirm The Affair is the kind of series designed to win awards: well-acted, well-crafted, and ostensibly serious, but actually self-serious and stuffy. (How to Get Away With Murder is the exact opposite, so it’s no wonder that The Affair’s Ruth Wilson beat out Viola Davis in the Best Actress in a Drama category.) I feel a little less annoyed by its win when I look at what it beat out, though: The Good Wife, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, and House of Cards. Two of those shows are also tony series that aren’t nearly as good as they think they are, and the two that are much better than it aren’t new. Besides, lamenting an award show’s poor choices is half the fun of watching an award show. Still, I would feel better about it if Tina and Amy were around to crack a joke.