Other TV is available: did Netflix sweep the Golden Globes by default

The absence of I May Destroy You was the most memorable part of the small-screen awards, where voters had seemingly binged the biggest streaming hits – and little else

It has always been hard to care about the Golden Globes, and God knows that it’s difficult to rouse the enthusiasm to care about anything one year into a pandemic. So, in truth, last night’s special pandemic edition of the Golden Globes – an entertainment awards show made in a year when most entertainment has either been cancelled or postponed – barely even deserves acknowledgment.

In fact, if last night’s show will be remembered for anything at all – which in all honesty seems like a stretch – then it will be the swirl of controversy that engulfed its nominations. In summary: when its shortlists were announced, the best TV show of the year (I May Destroy You) was nowhere to be seen. But the worst TV show of the year (Emily in Paris) was. It’s also worth noting that many lavish treats were gifted to voters by the production a year ago. All that, plus it was just revealed that not a single black person participated in the voting process.

All of which means that the 2021 Golden Globes should go down in history with an asterisk. If nothing else, it’ll save people from actually having to watch the thing, which was essentially a buggy, halting conference call. Still, it proved that even the Hollywood Foreign Press Association spent the pandemic the same way as everyone else – plonked on their sofas, half-heartedly watching whatever Netflix happened to recommend.

Because that’s where all the winners came from this year. With vanishingly few exceptions, all the television awards went to Netflix shows. The Crown won a ton, with The Queen’s Gambit and Schitt’s Creek – a Netflix show by proxy, given that nobody outside Canada saw it before it was added to its library – mopping up the most of the rest.

And, look, that’s fine. Everyone likes The Crown. It’s big and grand and stately and expensive, and exists in that weird area where it makes you feel smarter for watching it, even if it doesn’t actually make you smarter. The most recent series was probably the best yet, since it was set in a period of time where the royal family actually did something, and the cast managed to elevate the material more than it deserved. Emma Corrin’s performance as Princess Diana was so extraordinary that her win was all but guaranteed the instant she appeared onscreen, leotarding around some shrubbery. The same goes for Josh O’Connor’s Charles, who finally became the monster we had all been waiting for. Gillian Anderson’s herky-jerky Thatcher impersonation was slightly more divisive, but perhaps the most high-profile performance of the series, so her win was also to be expected.

The Queen’s Gambit was always going to win plenty, too. It was another middlebrow, prestigious period piece that prodded gently at the intellectual centre of the brain without actually challenging it, and it makes sense that the people who loved The Crown would also go bananas for it. What shouldn’t be in doubt, though, is Anya Taylor-Joy’s spectacular lead performance, which held the entire thing together. Like Corrin, Taylor-Joy’s ascent to superstardom is all but ensured. However, like Corrin, you wonder whether she’ll be able to find a role this meaty again.

So of course these shows won. But, combined with the lack of acknowledgment for I May Destroy You, there’s an overriding sense that the Golden Globes didn’t look very hard for its winners. It’s almost as if the voters opened Netflix, took a look at whatever was on the landing page and thought “that’ll do”.

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