Golden Globes winners 2015

What just happened? For years we’ve mocked the Golden Globes as a joke, a drunken farce that leads into the last few weeks of Awards Season before the Oscars. The show is basically one last hootenanny, like New Years Eve for celebrities, before the Important Awards sweep in to codify all that is good and worthwhile from the previous calendar year. (Note: no awards actually codify anything.)

But something happened in 2015. The Golden Globes, especially when it came to awards for TV, did not appear to be decided entirely by self-congratulatory voters more interested in getting loaded with celebrities than in the actual films and shows. The film winners were almost entirely independents, and the TV winners were diverse both in who they represent, and the ways in which those stories are getting to audiences. A big win for Amazon’s Transparent isn’t just unexpected; it is a great step forward.

Now, instead of bringing attention to stuff like The Tourist, the Golden Globes suddenly look almost progressive. The problem is that some of the 2015 awards winners are still things audiences haven’t seen, for a variety of reasons. So here’s a guide to some of the lesser-known achievements the Globes highlighted this year.

The TV Awards

We’ll skip discussion of a couple of the winners such as Downton Abbey, Fargo, and House of Cards. You probably know what those are by now; even if you haven’t seen either one, both shows are recognizable enough at this point that their profiles are well established.

But some of the other winners are part of our evolving understanding of what TV can be, and in that sense they’re really interesting.

Jane the Virgin

Based on a Venezuelan telenovella, the show features a great central performance from young Gina Rodriguez (who won for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy or Musical) as a devout virgin who is artificially inseminated by mistake, and agrees to act as surrogate mother for the couple whose child she bears. The show’s first season hasn’t even finished yet — there are three more episodes to go — but the performance from Rodriguez is more than enough to recommend it.

And while the Globes featured a few dumb jokes and embarrassing asides, Rodriguez’s acceptance speech was significant for many. She said, “This award is so much more than myself. It represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes.”

She had previously explained choosing this role over a part in the series Devious Maids:

…every role that I’ve chosen has been ones that I think are going to push forward the idea of my culture, of women, of beauty, my idea of liberating young girls, of feeling that they have to look at a specific beauty type. And I wasn’t going to let my introduction to the world be one of a story that I think has been told many times.  I wanted it to be a story that was going to liberate young girls and say, ‘Wow, there we are too, and we’re the doctors, and we’re the teachers, and we’re the writers, and we’re the lawyers, and I can do that too. And I don’t have to be a perfect size zero. I can be a perfect size me.’ And that’s what I live. So Jane, I waited for her patiently. And now she’s here. And thank you for being here with us. Because this is a dream come true to me.

Incidentally, this show is one of a few winners on the TV side that isn’t available only via a subscription-based service or channel. (The others being Fargo and Downton Abbey.)

Transparent

You’ll need an Amazon Prime membership to watch this Amazon Studios series, which is kind of a shame as the show is among the year’s standouts. (Anyone can watch the first episode for free; the ten-episode season is streaming at Prime now.)

Created by Jill Soloway (Afternoon Delight, Six Feet Under), the show features Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman, who for most of his life was known as Morton to his family. When Maura reveals that she has spent her whole life feeling like she was dressing up as a man, secrets start to surface from all corners of the family. Widely hailed as among the best new shows of the year, and for good reason, Transparent supports the idea of a definitive change for the business and broadcast of “television.” It’s a well-made show with a great cast that tells a story we need to see, and which we would never see on mainstream TV. It’s not an Emmy, but the win for this show helps push it to a higher level of awareness, which is great.    

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